Antique Japanese Sword Katana attributed to Kouda with NBTHK Tokubestsu Hozon Certificate
This blade is attributed to the work of Uda school by NBTHK, which authenticated this blade. While the certificate doesn’t mention when it was forged, NBTHK appraises it was made in the Kamakura-Nanbokucho period (Approx. 1299 – 1393). We made a phone call to NBTHK to confirm it.
Uda is a prestigious school that flourished during the Nanbokuchoto-mid Muromachi period(approx. 1334-1491). It was founded by Kunimitsu(国光) in the late Kamakura period. The school was located in Etchu province in Toyama prefecture today. Kunimitsu was originally from Yamato Uda Gun(大和宇多郡), located in Nara prefecture but moved to Etchu in the late Kamakura period(1299-1333) with his apprentices including Kunifusa(国房), and Kunimune(国宗).
Uda school was famous for producing practically designed blades, which were desirable during Nanbokucho- Muromachi period. Among other schools in the Hokuriku region(the northwestern part of Honshu), Uda school was the most prominent school.
When the Uda school flourished in the Nanbokucho period, Japan had a tumultuous time because the imperial court was split into two sides(south and north). There were so many conflicts, and many Samurai were deployed. The trend in battlefields was to use a surprisingly long sword. This trend continued until the early-mid Muromachi period. This blade doesn’t look long now, but we assume it used to be quite a long sword based on the tang’s shape, meaning it was shortened a few times in the past.
There are two categories in the work of Uda school. One is called Ko Uda(Old Uda), and the other is called Uda. Ko Uda swords were forged during the late Kamakura period to the Nanbokucho period. Uda blades were forged during the Muromachi period. This blade is categorized as a Ko-Uda blade.
This blade is appraised as a Tokubetsu Hozon Touken (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): 66.5 cm (26.2 inches)
Curvature (Sori): 1.7 cm (0.67 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.
This Fuchi Kashira has an elegant look. The same family crest is designed on each Fuchi part and Kashira part. And the Karakusa (唐草, arabesque) pattern surrounds the crests. The family crest designed on this Fuchi Kashira is a kind of Ken Katabami (剣片喰) design called the Sumiiri Kakuni Ken Katabami (隅入り角に剣片喰). The Katabami (片喰) is a plant whose leaf has a heart mark shape. People thought this plant design represented the prosperity of descendants; therefore, many Samurai cherished this pattern. In addition, this plant was favored for its strong vitality that did not wither even when trampled as a weed. The Ken Katabami is a combination of swords and Katabami leaves. It is said that people have associated with the Samurai by incorporating the sword motif. Understandably, lots of Samurai families used the Ken Katabami pattern. It shows the relationship between this plant motif and the Samurai culture.
Tsuka and Menuki: Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
You would find the figure of a dragon on each side of the handle. While we cannot see its entire shape, we could see its characteristic facial feature and slender body covered with scales through the gaps of Tsukamaki thread. Gold coloring partially remains and adds decorativeness to this work.
Initially, the dragon was an imaginary creature found in ancient foreign traditions or myths. Furthermore, it is regarded as a symbolic beast of auspicious signs. Its body is likened to nine animals: antlers are deer, the head is a camel, eyes are demons, the neck is a snake, the belly is the Mizuchi (蛟, a mythical animal in Japan that looks like a snake and has a horn and four legs), scales are fish, claws are falcons, palms are tigers, and ears are cows. The dragon was thought to reign at the top of all animals because of its odd appearance.
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.
Dragons are engraved on this Tsuba. On the front, two dragons flying in the sky are placed facing each other, and one dragon is depicted on the backside. Initially, the dragon was an imaginary creature found in ancient foreign traditions or myths. Furthermore, it is regarded as a symbolic beast of auspicious signs. Its body is likened to nine animals: antlers are deer, the head is a camel, eyes are demons, the neck is a snake, the belly is the Mizuchi (蛟, a mythical animal in Japan that looks like a snake and has a horn and four legs), scales are fish, claws are falcons, palms are tigers, and ears are cows. The dragon was thought to reign at the top of all animals because of its odd appearance.
As seen on this Tsuba, the Nobori Ryu (昇り龍, a figure of a dragon rising toward the heavens) is said to represent courage and strength. In addition, there is an idiom: Ryu-no Kumo-wo Uru Gotoshi (龍の雲を得る如し). It means that a hero gets an opportunity to play an active role, just as a dragon obtains the clouds and soars to the heavens. In this way, there are positive ideas for dragon designs. Therefore, it is understandable that various dragon patterns have been designed for multiple items, including sword mountings. We imagine many Samurai favored this dignified beast motif.
Saya: Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper: NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate for the blade (No.1006298)
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 Aug. 26th in the 28th year of Heisei (2016). 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: Kyoto 53620
The Board of Education in Kyoto 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.
Samurai Museum is located in Tokyo, Japan, exhibiting antique artifacts related to the Samurai history. Samurai Museum Shop is the place for those who are interested in Japanese culture and craftsmanship. We deal with antique Samurai swords/armor, traditional crafts made in Japan and so on.
Here is one of the reviews we received from a customer who purchased an authentic Japanese sword from us. For more reviews, please click here.
“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.”
【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.
It is allowed for residents in Japan to own authentic Japanese swords without a special license as long as they come with registration papers. Please feel free to contact us if you are a resident of Japan, whether temporarily or permanently. We will also assist you when you leave Japan and need to obtain the export permit.
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*If the amount is above 1 million JPY, Stripe or wire transfer will be the only options for payment.
We have shipped authentic Japanese swords to the USA, UK, Canada, Mexico, Germany, France, Hong Kong and Australia. If you don’t live in these countries and like to order, please contact us first before making a purchase. We offer Free International Shipping as long as we can send antique Japanese swords by EMS.
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 take 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.
*If you live in Australia and like to purchase an authentic Japanese sword, please click here to know the detail.
*Please keep in mind that due to the spread of COVID-19, there might be delays in shipping. If you like to know the detail about shipping, please feel free to ask us.
【How to make sure the condition】
Please keep in mind that what you are going to purchase is an antique item. We uploaded high resolution photos for you to check its condition thoroughly. If you like to see more photos with different angles, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to send them to you so that you can make informed decision. It is essential for us to know that you are happy with your choice of a sword. and we are prepared to use the best of our ability to serve you.
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【The Art of Nihonto (Japanese Sword) 】
Samurai’s history is a profound, eloquent legacy of ancient Japanese warriors in which millions of people worldwide are being fascinated. If you like to find out the art of Nihonto, please click here.
【A Guide to Japanese Sword Maintenance】
After acquiring a 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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