Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Bishu Masanori with NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Bishu Mihara Jyu Masanori (備州三原住正則) in the 12th year of the Tenmon era (1543: Late Muromachi Period ).
Masanori was active during the Tenmon era (1532-1555). He belonged to Kai Mihara school, one of the most prestigious schools during the late Muromachi period.
Bishu（備州）is a larger area in today’s Okayama＆Hiroshima prefecture. Bishu consists of Bizen(備前), Bitchu（備中） and Bingo (備後). Kai Mihara school was located in Bingo province. This school’s headquarter is called Mihara school (三原).
According to one theory, Mihara school was founded by Kokubunji Sukekuni in the late Kamakura period.
Mihara school is divided into three categories depending on the period. When the blade is older than the Nanbokucho era(the 1300s), it is called Ko-Mihara (Old Mihara). And it is called Mihara for those forged in the early-Mid Muromachi period. Finally, Sue-Mihara(Late Mihara) is used for the late Muromachi period. Masanori is categorized as Sue-Mihara.
Kai-Mihara swordsmiths in the late Muromachi period sometimes signed Kai (貝: Shellfish) in their signature because they resided in a village called Kaigahara(貝々原). That is why they are called Kai-Mihara school.
In Bingo province, many lands were owned by politically powerful temples of the Yamato region (today’s Nara prefecture) from ancient times. And it is said that the swordsmiths in the Yamato region strongly influenced how swords were forged in the Bingo province. The blades forged by the Kai-Mihara school had distinctive characteristics of Yamato DEN, one of the five Japanese sword traditions (Gokaden).
The swordsmiths in the Bishu area, including Kai-Mihara school, produced many swords during the Muromachi period as it was in the middle of the Sengoku period(Warring state period). The demand for weapons increased among strong feudal lords.
It is rare to find a blade signed by Masanori with the year it was made. It would be nice to own a blade forged during the warring state period. While there are a couple of Kitaekizu on this blade, its current condition is good enough for appreciation.
This blade 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)：66.4 cm(26.1 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 1.8 cm( 0.70 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 a simple look. We hope you will enjoy the color and texture of its material. Its rough surface seems to be a kind of delicate mesh pattern. This Fuchi Kashira’s appearance brings out the decorativeness of other sword mountings of this sword. Please check other pictures to see how it matches well when looking at the entire Koshirae.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
It seems this Menuki’s motif is a combination of several plants. Some of them are colored with golden paint, and it gives the gorgeousness for the work. We estimate one of these flowers is a peony. This flower represents happiness, wealth, nobleness, and gorgeousness. Its design has been treated as a good-omen motif; people regarded it as a rich harvest sign. Peony is called “Botan (牡丹)” 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. We imagine its elegant look was also why people had cherished it since ancient times.
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.
Oval-shaped Tsuba that has Kozuka and Kougai holes. You will find the Inaho (稲穂, ears of rice) is designed at both sides of this Tsuba. The gold paint is applied to them, and this coloring makes an ornamental look for the work. Since ancient times, rice has been worshiped as an essential food and considered a symbol of wealth. In addition, it has been treated like a treasure. Some people believe the god dwells in it. Therefore, the Inaho pattern has often been designed as a crest of the Inari (稲荷) shrine, which enshrines the Inari god, who is regarded as the god of grain and agriculture. The former owner of this sword might have worshipped the Inari god. Also, this plant motif is seen for family crests. It is one of the familiar designs for Japanese people. We could guess that this design might have had chosen in the hope of a plentiful harvest and a prosperous life.
A family crest is designed for the Habaki. It is a combination of three leaves, and we think it is a type of the Kashiwa (柏, daimyo oak) pattern. About the daimyo oak, there is a custom to eat the Kashiwa Mochi (柏餅, rice cake wrapped in a daimyo oak) on the Tango-no Sekku (端午の節句 one of the seasonal festivals for children in Japan). This plant keeps its leaves even during the cold season and falls when sprouts come up. It is considered auspicious because it does not lose its roots until it is inherited, and it is said that eating sweets wrapped in a daimyo oak leaf wishes for the healthy growth of children.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Kougai：Kougai is the equipment for Samurai to arrange or fix his hair style.
The coloring of black and gold makes an elegant atmosphere for the work as you in this Kougai. Flowers and leaves are designed. It seems silvery metal and gold-colored paint are applied to these motifs.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (NO. 1013183)
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 June 25th in the second year of Reiwa (2020). 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 321134
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.
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.
【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 350 Japanese swords 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.
We accept payment through Stripe (Credit card), PayPal, Apple Pay or ChromePay, all of which are secure payment methods. Also, you don’t need to make an account on Stripe for the checkout. If you prefer other payment method, please contact us. After confirming your payment, we will apply for an export permit. You may either pay in JPY, USD, AUD, CAD,EUR or GBP. The price is set in Japanese Yen. Prices in other currencies are automatically calculated based on the latest exchange rate.
* 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, Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany, Switzerland, 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 either EMS or FedEx(Canada).
We normally ship by EMS(Express Mail Service) provided by Japan Post. When we receive an order from the Canada we will use FedEx instead as EMS temporarily stops shipping from Japan to those countries due to COVID-19.
We will send you a tracking number for your order as soon as we hand it to the post office/FedEx. 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.
* 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.
【How To Contact Us】
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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 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.
Thank you for reading all the information on the page. If you have any difficulty choosing the right sword for you, we will be more than happy to help you find the one that speaks to you the most. Please feel free to contact us.