Antique Japanese Sword Tachi attributed to Nioh with NBTHK JUYO TOKEN Certificate
According to NBTHK that authenticated the blade, it was forged by one of Nioh’s swordsmiths. Although the authentication paper doesn’t say when it was made, we contacted NBTHK to confirm its age. They believe it was created during the late Kamakura period(about 700 years old) based on the blade’s characteristics. This school mastered superb craftsmanship, and it is known as one of the most famous schools in this region.
Nioh is the group of swordsmiths(school) that flourished from the mid-Kamakura period to the late Muromachi period(500-750 years ago) and lasted until the Edo period(150—400 years ago).The school was founded by Nioh Taro Kiyotsuna(二王太郎清綱) in Suo Province(today’s Yamaguchi prefecture). According to his remaining work, the oldest blade was forged in 1265. It is currently enshrined in Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima. It is said that he started to forge swords in around 1205(early Kamakura period). The Nioh swordsmiths inherited the part of its founder’s name 清(Kiyo) such as 清房(Kiyofusa), 清長(Kiyonaga).
There were a lot of lands in Suo Province controlled by the Todaiji temple in the Kamakura-Muromachi period. It is said that Nioh school and Yamato swordsmiths from Nara prefecture had a strong relationship and technological exchange.
That is why the blades forged by Nioh swordsmiths had a strong influence from YAMATO-DEN.
*Todaiji temple is located in Nara prefecture. Before the Edo period, temples and shrines gained strong political influence.
The name Nioh came from the legend that the Tachi blade forged by Kiyotsuna(the founder of Nioh school) was able to save the Nioh statue by cutting the chain connected to it when Nioh temple was on fire.
Another theory was that Nioh swordsmiths lived in a village called Nioh no Sho(二保庄) and started to call themselves Nioh swordsmiths.
Considering how old it is, this blade is remarkably well preserved, and its appearance is elegant. We assume this blade might have been initially owned by the imperial lineage or one of higher authorities back then.
This blade is stored in Tachi(太刀) Koshirae. Tachi was mainly used by an armored Samurai with one hand on horseback from the Heian period (794-1185 A.D.) until the early Muromachi period. TACHI was suspended loosely on the left waist with its edge facing the ground so that you could draw it faster to cut down soldiers on the ground. Because of its gorgeous looking, having a Tachi-style sword mounting became a social status among Samurai.
This blade is appraised as a JUYO TOKEN (重要刀剣) 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, exceptionally well preserved and of high quality with artistic value. JUYO is one rank higher than Tokubetsu Hozon. To be eligible for a Juyo Token, it needs to be appraised as a Tokubetsu Hozon Token first. It is extremely rare for an antique Japanese sword to be appraised as JUYO TOKEN, and it is highly desirable among Japanese sword collectors.
Cutting Edge Length (Nagasa): 70.0 cm (27.6 inches)
Curvature (Sori): 1.8 cm (0.71 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.
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 Kabutogane (冑金/兜金) is a metal fitting that is attached to the end of a handle. And the Fuchi Kanamono (縁金物) is also a metal fitting attached to a handle but on the opposite side of Kabutogane. It seems these metal parts have the same design as the Kuchi Kanamono (口金物, a metal fitting that is attached to the tip of the scabbard close to Tsuba), Seme Kanamono (責金物, a ring-shaped metal fitting placed in the middle of the scabbard to prevent the sheath from cracking), and also Ishiduki Kanamono (石突金物, a metal fitting that is attached to the end of the scabbard). A plant pattern that draws an elegant curve is carved on these sword mountings. Using a common design everywhere creates a sense of unity in the overall appearance of this Koshirae.
Tsuka and Menuki: Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
Although we cannot see the entire shape of the Menuki, we believe its motif is the Kiri (桐, paulownia) designed family crest. It seems three Kiris are arranged on each Menuki. Gold paint is applied to the surface of Menuki, and its bright color remains relatively in good condition. You could find the same plant motif on the Taikogane (太鼓金). It is a circle-shaped metal fitting attached to the middle of the Taikogawa (太鼓革). The Taikogawa is made from leather and has a role in fixing the Tachio (太刀緒, Sageo for the Tachi Koshirae).
The Kiri pattern is generally composed of three standing straight inflorescences and three leaves. The number of blooming flowers at each inflorescence means the ranks of this design. The Gosan-no-Kiri Monyou (五三の桐文様) is a popular design that a paulownia is used. This pattern was once used by the imperial family and people in authority then. Today, it is permitted to use by ordinary households and is appreciated as their family crests. Since this family crest has been widely spread, judging which clan used it is challenging. However, we could say that this plant design gives us a noble impression.
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.
This is a typical shape of the Tachi Goshirae Tsuba (太刀拵鐔). The difference between Tachi Tsuba (太刀鐔) and Katana Tsuba (刀鐔) is that the top and bottom positions of the Nakago hole (茎櫃, center hole) are reversed. The Tsuba of this Koshirae has Aoi (葵) Tsuba shape. The Ju-Ji (十字, cross) pattern is designed with golden metal and golden paint is applied to this cross pattern and the edge part.
If you focus on four corners and the tips of the golden cross mark, you will find a heart mark-shaped hole is engraved on each edge. It is called the Inome (猪の目) pattern. The Inome pattern has been used since ancient times. As its name implies, the boar’s eyes are the origin of this pattern. Some people believed the Inome design would work as an amulet to protect them from evil spirits or fire. Also, it is said it would bring good luck.
The Karakusa (唐草, arabesque) pattern is engraved on this Tsuba. It is a pattern in which vine stems and leaves are twined and make curves. Since ivy has a strong vitality and grows up without interruption, people regarded this design as a symbol of prosperity and longevity. Same as the metal fittings of the handle and scabbard, this Tsuba is decorated with a plant pattern. Here we could feel the taste of the owner who ordered this Koshirae.
Saya: Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
This scabbard is beautifully colored with vermillion lacquer. And you would find the same circle-shaped patterns are designed on it. We believe it is a family crest that is called the Maru-ni Igeta (丸に井桁) pattern. The well-shaped timber frame surrounding the well’s ground part is called an Igata (井桁). A well is a crucial place filled with water and should not be polluted. In other words, it is thought that it came to be used as a family crest because it is indispensable for life. A theory says the simplicity of this motif was favored among Samurai families.
Authentication Paper: NBTHK JUYO TOKEN Certificate for the blade (No. 7735)
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 Oct. 18th in the 59th year of Showa (1984). They appraised it as JUYO TOKEN, the blade exceptionally 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: Kagoshima 9198
The Board of Education in Kagoshima 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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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.
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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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