Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Fujiwara Tadahiro with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
Hizen Koku Jyu Omi Daijyo Fujiwara Tadahiro
This blade was signed by Hizen Koku Jyu Omi no Daijyo Fujiwara Tadahiro(肥前国住近江大掾藤原忠広) , who is the first son of the first-gen Tadayoshi. It is said that Tadahiro was active in sword-forging during 1624-1688 (Early Edo Period).
Tadayoshi(Father) is one of the most famous swordsmiths in the early Edo period and made Hizen province(today’s Saga prefecture) a prominent sword-forging place back then. Tadahiro learned sword-forging techniques under his father’s supervision until Tadayoshi died in 1632 (9th year of the Kan-Ei era).
Tadahiro took over the school his father ran when he was only 19 years old, and he started to make a sword in the same year. This fact indicates that he was excellent at making swords, and the apprentices of his father(Tadayoshi) supported him to run the school. Tadahiro received the title of Omi Daijyo in 1641 (the sixth year of the Genroku era). He kept forging swords for almost 60 years for the Nabeshima clan, strong feudal lords.
Tadahiro died at the age of 81 in 1693 and left a large number of excellent swords before his decease. He had many famous apprentices, such as the third-gen Mutsu Daijyo Tadayoshi, Harima Daijyo Tadakuni, and Kawachi Daijyo Masahiro.
Fujiwara Tadahiro and other swordsmiths in the Hizen province worked under the auspices of Nabeshima clan. The swordsmiths in Hizen province were able to produce beautiful Jigane-patterned blades, also known as Hizen To, using and mixing carbon steel made in Netherland.
Most of Tadahiro’s work has Hamon types of Suguha and Chojimidare. This blade has Suguha Hamon, and you can see beautiful Jigane, which is famous for blades made in Hizen province. Swords forged by Tadahiro are also famous among Japanese sword collectors because of his exquisite craftsmanship and history.
The first-gen Tadayoshi (His father)
The first-gen Tadayoshi was born and raised in the Saga domain. In 1596, under the domain’s order, he went to Kyoto to learn the sword-forging technique from Umetada Myojyu(埋忠明寿), one of the greatest swordsmiths in the early Edo period. He improved his craftsmanship and returned to the Saga domain two years later (1598). The first head of the Nabeshima clan, Nabeshima Katsushige, appreciated the work of the first-gen Tadayoshi very much. Then, Katsushige appointed him as his Okakaekaji, a swordsmith who exclusively forged swords for a specific domain or clan. And Tadayoshi started to stay near Saga castle, which is the headquarter of the Nabeshima clan. And, he founded Hizen Tadayoshi school, which trained more than 100 swordsmiths during the Edo period. Tadahiro is one of them.
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. Its sword mounting (Koshirae) was also appraised as a Tokubetsu Hozon Tosogu (特別保存刀装具).
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)：69.6 cm ( 27.4 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 1.8 cm ( 0.7 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.
According to the certificate, the theme of Soroi Kanagu (揃金具, metal fittings for each part of Koshirae designed with the same motif) is the Zuiun (瑞雲). Although some colorings have already faded due to aging, it seems each piece was initially colored with golden paint.
Zuiun means clouds that are considered an omen of good luck. Clouds bring rain and snow, and their movements significantly affect a day’s weather. Due to its supernatural power, a theory says that gods, spirits, and dragons dwell in the clouds. Also, as clouds appear repeatedly, this design represents reincarnation. Samurai warriors were always on the verge of life and death on the battlefields. They might have believed in the power of this pattern.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
The certificate says that this Menuki’s motif is the Hairyu Zu (這龍図). You could see the dragon’s characteristic elongated body through the gaps in the Tsukamaki threads on each side. The figures of dragons crawling along with flames are designed.
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, 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.
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.
The theme of this Tsuba is the Ajiro Toutou Zu (網代投桐図). Its edge is framed with a thin golden plate. This type of decorative technique is called the Fukurin (覆輪). As seen in this work, golden plates were often used to give the Tsuba a gorgeous beauty. It also has practicality, such as preventing the wear of the edge part. Also, it prevents the wear and tear of the Kimono if the edge damages it by touching the cloth.
Now let’s come back to the design. You would see that a mesh pattern made by combining straight lines is faintly visible on the surface of this Tsuba. Ajiro (網代) means wickerwork trap, fishing gear of bamboo instead of a net. This Ajiro pattern is engraved on this Tsuba’s ground.
The flower motifs also would catch your eyes. This plant is the Kiri (桐, paulownia). It is generally composed of three standing straight inflorescences and three leaves. The number of flowers blooming at each inflorescence means the ranks of this design. This plant pattern was once used by the imperial family and national leaders of the time. Today, this plant pattern is used as the crest of the Japanese Government. The Kiri motif has been arranged in various family crests and was favored among Samurai families too. In this work, Kiris are depicted realistically, and their graceful appearances give the piece a stunning impression.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 1010911) and Koshirae (No. 2005529)
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 and its Koshirae on Feb. 25th in the 31st year of Heisei (2019). They appraised it as Tokubetsu Hozon Touken/ Tosogu, the blade/ sword mounting 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 : Hiroshima 9281
The Board of Education in Hiroshima 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.
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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.
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