Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Fujiwara Kunimasa with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Yoshu Fujiwara Kunimasa (予州藤原国正), also known as Suruga no Kami Fujiwara Kunimasa. According to its NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon appraisal, it was made during the Shinto era (Early-Mid Edo period). Yoshu, also known as Iyo province, was the name of the province located in today’s Ehime prefecture.
The maker’s name Kunimasa lasted a few generations from the early-late Edo period (Early 17th-Late 19th century). Based on the characteristic of this blade, we assume it was forged by the first-gen Kunimasa, who was active during the early Edo period (early-mid 17th ).
The birth name for the first-gen Kunimasa was Nishimoto Ichiemon. He was initially from Tosa province (Today’s Kochi prefecture) and moved to Uwajima domain in Yoshu (Ehime prefecture).
In the 5th year of the Kei-An era (1653)Kunimasa started to serve Date Hidemune, who controlled Uwajima domain. Hidemune was the first son of Date Masamune, one of the most famous feudal lords during the warring state period. And, Kunimasa became a Hanko (藩工), exclusively forging blades for this domain.
In the middle of his career, he went to Edo city to become an apprentice for Yamato no Kami Yasusada, one of the most renowned swordsmiths during the early Edo period. He was able to master excellent craftsmanship from Yasusda and received the honorable official title of Suruga no Kami in the 4th year of the Kanbun era (1664). After finishing the apprenticeship, he moved back to Iyo province. He died in the second year of the Houei era (1705).
The maker’s name Kunimasa lasted a few generations until the end of the Edo period. According to available records, his son became the second-gen Kunimasa in the 10th year of the Genroku era (1697). And the 8th generation Kunimasa is said to be the last one, and he was active during the Genji era (1864-1865).
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)：69.7 cm ( 27.4 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 0.9 cm ( 0.35 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.
Dragons are designed on this Fuchi Kashira. It seems golden paint was initially painted on several parts, such as dragons’ eyes, claws, and beards. This coloring makes a color contrast of gold and black. Originally, a dragon was an imaginary creature found in ancient foreign traditions or myths. Furthermore, it is regarded as a symbol 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. It was thought that the dragon would reign at the top of all animals because of its odd-looking appearance. The dragon motif is often seen in sword mountings. It shows that many Samurai favored this dignified beast design.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
We cannot see the details and the entire shape of this Menuki due to the Tsukamaki thread. It is challenging to determine what the motif is. We think one side is probably the figure of a horse riding on clouds. And on another side Menuki, we could find an object which could be seen a sword. We estimate that a Samurai was initially engraved on this side. Horses have been active on battlefields for a long time.
After the age that Samurai appeared, wearing large armor or performing archery riding a hose became martial arts. Equestrian tactics became the pillar of military action and security activities. According to a theory, that is why the Japanese sword began to have a curve to make it suitable for slashing (the Japanese sword was straight in the beginning). In this way, horses were closely related to Samurai; therefore, it is understandable that it was incorporated into sword mountings’ designs.
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 oval-shaped Tsuba has an ornamental appearance thanks to gold-color decoration. Golden metal was applied to Kozuka and Kougai holes. In addition, the Mimi (耳, edge of Tsuba) is framed with the same golden metal. It is a processing method that combines both aesthetics and practicality to prevent damage.
About the design, this Tsuba depicts a scenery of a battlefield. You would find figures of Samurai warriors on the front. They were clad in armor. And they glared at each other with a sense of tension as if they were about to slash. The brave figures of warriors who risk their lives on the battlefield are expressed on this small screen.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 1017738)
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 Jun. 3rd in the 4th year of Reiwa (2022) . 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 : Gunma 47949
The Board of Education in Gunma 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.
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 CHF 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, UK, Canada, Mexico, 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 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 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 Japanese 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.