Antique Japanese Sword Katana Attributed to Choshu Akikuni with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade is attributed to Choshu Akikuni (長州顕国), who was active during the late Nabokuho-early Muromachi period (1394-1441). He was an apprentice of Sano Yasuyoshi, the second-gen head of Choshu Samonji school. Akikuni signed as Choshu Jyu Akikuni, Choushu Setozaki Jyunin Akikuni and Choshu Jyu Saemon no Jo Akikuni. Akikuni was one of the most prominent figures in Choshu Samonji school.
He resided in Setosaki village, located in today’s Senzaki town in Yamaguchi prefecture. It is said that he started to live in this area to salvage iron made in Izumo province (Today’s Shimane prefecture), which had been loaded on a ship that sunk in Setozaki offshore.
His master, Sano Yasuyoshi, was originally from Chikuzen province (Today’s Fukuoka prefecture). And he belonged to a prestigious school named Chikushu Samonji School. Yasuyoshi was the father of Sairen Kuniyoshi and the son of Jitsua. Both of them were prominent members of the Chikushu Samonji school. Sano Yasuyoshi later moved to Chushu province and founded Choshu Samonji School.
We assume this blade was originally a very long strong looking blade. Based on the shape of the blade, this blade was shortened (Suriage) in the past. Even so, its remaining cutting edge is 72.5 cm (28.5 inches). It is likely that its original cutting edge was close to 80 cm long.
It is appraised as a Tokubetsu Hozon Token(特別保存刀剣) issued by NBTHK(Nihon Bijutsu Touken Hozon Kyokai:日本美術刀剣保存協会). This authentication paper was only given to authentic Japanese swords, especially well preserved and high quality with artistic value.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)： 72.5 cm (28.5 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：1.4 cm (0.55 inches)
The crystalline structure which forms along the cutting edge of a blade as a result of the hardening process
visible steel surface pattern created by folding and hammering during forging process
Nakago：Nakago is the tang of the Japanese sword.
Japanese swordsmiths left the black rust on the tang because it prevents red rust while the tang is in its handle. And the discoloration of the tang was created over time, and it is a great indicator for a Japanese sword specialist to estimate when the sword was forged.
Koshirae: Koshirae is the mounting of the Japanese sword. There are several parts that consist of Koshirae such as Saya(Scabbard), Tsuka(Handle), Tsuba(Handguard).
Fuchi-Kashira：A pair of matching sword fittings that cover the upper and bottom parts of its sword hilt.
The shape of the Kashira is a Tachi Style and decorative looking. We believe the design of this Fuchi part was inspired by maple leaves. According to a theory, this plant motif represents longevity. Maple leaves change their colors from green to yellow, orange, or red. The fall foliage is one of the charms of autumn. Due to this behavior of the color, this design represents someone who knows how to get along in the world and be happy.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
The Yumi-Ya (弓矢, bow, and arrow) was once one of the classical primary weapons for Samurai. So we could imagine that this motif reminded them of battlefields. Also, as an arrow goes straight forward, lots of Samurai loved the arrow pattern. Additionally, each home displayed decorated arrows wishing that it would exorcize evil spirits in the house. This talisman is called Hamaya (破魔矢) in Japanese, and this custom is still kept today. And, the other side is Kabuto (Samurai helmet) theme.
Tsuba and Habaki：Tsuba is the handguard for the Japanese Sword and Habaki is the equipment to make the blade not touch its scabbard inside. It prevents the blade from getting rusty and chipped.
We believe the motif of this Tsuba is pin tree. As pine trees keep their green color throughout the years by withstanding severe heat and cold, people thought this plant pattern represents eternal youth. Furthermore, its color is called Tokiwa-Iro (常盤色, evergreen trees’ dark green color with brown), and pine trees have another name “Tokiwa-Gi (常盤木).” Tokiwa means immutability, so Tokiwa-Iro is a color that praises green with a wish for longevity and prosperity. It is said this color was appreciated, especially in the Edo period, as a good-luck color. The pine tree design gives us an elegant and noble impression; it might be another reason that people love this motif.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Karajishis (唐獅子) and Botan (牡丹, peony) flowers are designed on this Saya.
The Karajishi is a classical subject and has favored designing various items for a long time. The Shishi (獅子) means a lion in Japanese, and the Karajishi is a lion brought from the Continent to Japan in the Toh period (唐, Tang dynasty, 618-907). The Kara-Jishi typically has curly hair for its head, neck, body, and tail. In Buddhism, the Karajishi is regarded as a symbol of wisdom, and the Monju Bosatu (文殊菩薩, Manjushri Bodhisattva) rides lions. According to a theory, the Kara-Jishi originates from the Komainu (狛犬, stone guardian dogs that exorcize evil spirits).
Peony represents happiness, wealth, nobleness, and gorgeousness. This flower pattern has been treated as a kind of good-omen motif; people regarded it as a rich harvest sign. As mentioned above, the peony is called Botan in Japanese. When we write this flower’s name in Japanese, its second letter means mountain hermit medicine to give us eternal youth. Based on the meaning of this letter, the peony pattern symbolizes eternal youth and longevity.
There is a Houwa (法話, Buddhist monks tell the story of Buddhism in an easy-to-understand manner) that treats the Karajishi and this flower. The lion is called the king of the beasts. However, even this invincible animal has only one fear; a bug in the lion’s body. This pest grows in the lion’s hair and eventually breaks the skin and bites the flesh. Nevertheless, it dies if it is exposed to be the night dew of a peony. Therefore, the lion rests under peony flowers at night, looking for a haven. This Tsuba’s design might have been inspired by this story.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 1019718)
NBTHK, also known as Nihon Bijutsu Touken Hozon Kyokai (the Society for the Preservation of the Japan Art Sword), is one of the oldest Japanese sword appraising organizations in modern-day Japan. They authenticated the blade on March 10th in the 5th year of Reiwa (2023). They appraised it as Tokubetsu Hozon Touken, the blade especially worth preserving for Japanese society. The purchaser will receive this original certificate as well. We can also translate what is written into English and make a PDF file for your record if you request.
Registration Number : Tokyo 325423
The Board of Education in Tokyo prefecture issued a registration paper for this sword . It is called Jyu Token Rui Torokusho(銃刀剣類登録証). Bunkacho(The Agency for Cultural Affairs) acknowledges a Japanese sword with this paper as a work of art.
The sword needs to be traditionally hand-forged and made of Tamahagane carbon steel to be registered in the system. With this paper, its owner in Japan can legally own an authentic Japanese sword. Based on this registration number, we will apply for its export permit.
This paper will need to be returned to the board of education when the sword is being shipped abroad, but you can receive a copy of it. An English translation of this registration paper is available on request.
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【Japanese Sword& Export Process】
The Japanese swords we deal with are hand-forged edged swords made in Japan. It was made from the traditional carbon steel called TAMAHAGANE(玉鋼). Samurai Museum is familiar with the proper legal procedure for an antique/ authentic Japanese sword to be exported from Japan. We have sent more than 500 Japanese swords for the past three years (～2023) to amazing owners who appreciate its historical value.
Each Japanese sword is registered under the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Board of Education in Japan. They issue a registration paper for each Japanese sword for its owner in Japan to legally possess it. The Japanese sword with its registration paper means it was traditionally hand-forged in Japan.
To legally export the sword from Japan to other countries, we will have to apply for its permit to the Agency for Cultural Affairs(Bunkacho) and return the original registration paper to the Board of Education. It normally takes around 2-4 weeks to receive this permit after submitting required documents. And we would like you to expect at least 1-1.5 months for your order to arrive at your given address after you ordered. For more detailed info, please click here.
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* If the amount is above 1 million JPY, Stripe or wire transfer will be the only options for payment.
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We normally ship by EMS(Express Mail Service) provided by Japan Post. We will send you a tracking number for your order as soon as we hand it to the post office. We will put 100 % insurance on the shipping document without any extra charge. Based on the total amount, there might be a duty tax or other fee for you to pay, depending on the countries. We use package cushioning to protect the item and put it in a PVC pipe, which is one of the most secure packages because of its durability.
It will normally takes 5-14 days for the item to arrive at your given address after we dispatch it. Time of delivery is estimated as accurately as possible by the carrier but does not take into account any delays beyond our control such as by inclement weather, post office holiday seasons.
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“My experience overall with the whole process was wonderful. I had many questions about the history and process to purchase these treasures. All my questions were answered very timely and complete. The staff is very knowledgeable and very well versed if any questions do arise.”
【How to make sure the condition】
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【The Art of Nihonto (Japanese Sword)】
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【A Guide to Japanese Sword Maintenance】
After acquiring an genuine Japanese sword, it is also important to know how to take good care of it. Here is the special video for you. Mr. Paul Martin, Japanese sword expert, shows you how to give proper maintenance to your sword. By mastering how to clean the Japanese sword, its aesthetic beauty will last forever.
When you purchase a Japanese sword from us, you can get a Free Japanese sword maintenance kit. It comes with four tools(Choji Oil, Uchiko Whetstone Powder, Peg remover, Oil Applicator). By watching the video instruction above , you can enjoy learning how to maintain your Japanese sword while appreciating it. If you have any difficulty assembling the sword or cleaning the blade, you can feel free to contact us.
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