Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Hizen Munetsugu with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Hizen Koku Minamoto Munetsugu (肥前国源宗次). Hizen Koku is the province’s name in today’s Saga prefecture. The maker’s name Munetsugu lasted eight generations, and according to NBTHK that appraised this blade, it was made by the first-gen Munetsugu judging from its characteristics. The first-gen Munetsugu was one of the most famous swordsmiths during the early Edo period in Hizen province.
The first-gen Munetsugu was born in a household that served the Tenmangu shrine as priests for generations in Nagase village in Hizen province. His birth name was Sakai Sanuemon. And he first signed Masatsugu. He took over his father’s school in the 12th year of the Tensho era (1584).
In the 11th year of the Keicho era (1606), he received Iyo Jyo title for his excellent craftsmanship. Additionally, in the 16th year of the Keicho era (1611), he was hired to forge blades for Nameshima Katsushige, the first head of Nameshima clan, who ruled Hizen province. And he became a Hanko (藩工), a swordsmith exclusively working for a specific clan or domain. He passed his name to the second-gen Munetsugu in the 9th year of the Kan-Ei era (1632). Considering his title isn’t engraved on this blade, we assume it was made before 1606.
One of the most famous episodes related to the first-gen Munetsugu is that he forged a blade to commemorate the visit of the Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu to Kyoto in July, the 11th year of the Kan-Ei era (1634). This fact indicates that the first-gen Munetsugu was a highly regarded swordsmith nationwide back then.
One of the most noticeable differences between Munetsugu’s works and the other swordsmiths in Hizen province is that he mastered Soshu Den tradition. In contrast, others created blades with Yamato Den tradition. Both traditions are among five Japanese sword forging traditions. Others are Yamashiro Den, Bizen Den, and Mino Den. The generations of Munetsugu preserved this Soshu Den technique until the end of the Edo period.
Hizen province was especially active in sword-forging during the early-mid Edo period, and the first-gen Munetsu was the head of all swordsmiths living in the region. He was allowed to live in a mansion house located near Saga castle. His fame was close to that of Tadayoshi, the founder of Hizen Tadayoshi school. According to one theory, there was a good rivalry between Munetsugu and Tadayoshi schools to improve their craftsmanship.
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)： 1.21 cm (0.47 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 Koshira’s Fuchi Kashira is similar to the sword mountings of the Tachi Koshirae (太刀拵). In the Tachi Koshirae, these sword mountings are called the Kabutogane (冑金/兜金) and the Fuchi Kanamono (縁金物). The Kabutogane is a metal fitting attached to a handle’s end. It corresponds to the Kashira (頭) part of the Fuchi Kashira (縁頭). And the Fuchi Kanamono (縁金物) is also a metal fitting attached to the handle but on the opposite side of the Kabutogane. It corresponds to the Fuchi (縁) part of the Fuchi Kashira. In addition, a Sarute/Sarude (猿手) is attached to this Kashira part (equivalent to the Kabutogane in Tachi Koshirae). The user of a sword passed the Udenukio (腕貫緒, a cord wrapped around the wrist to prevent a sword from falling out of the hand, mainly used when riding a horse) through this ring.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
*We will be happy to rewrap the Tsuka Maki without any additional cost.
Seeing from the gaps of the Tsukamaki thread, you would find the figure of a shrimp. Golden paint is applied to each Menuki, and its coloring remains relatively in good condition. We estimate this Menuki’s motif is the Iseebi (伊勢海老, spiny lobster). According to a theory, Japanese people already ate shrimp in the Heian period (794-1185). However, it was an expensive ingredient for ordinary citizens, so only the nobility and high-class people could enjoy it. People started using shrimp as a good-omen pattern and appreciated designing it for their family crests in the Muromachi period (1336-1573).
In the Samurai’s society, as shrimp is covered with a hard shell, it was thought that a shrimp represents the figure of a brave Samurai who wears armor. It has the meaning that wishes the fate of a Samurai will last for a long time. Shrimp has been likened to an older adult because of its long feelers. Also, shrimps actively jump even though they are bowed. That is the reason why the shrimp pattern is treated as a symbol of perpetual youth and longevity. This animal shed its molt several times to grow up; therefore, some people have considered it to be a symbol of success in life. In this way, the Iseebi design has a deep relationship with the Samurai culture.
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 Yotsu-Mokkou-shaped-Tsuba has a similar look to a 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 Mimi (耳, edge) of this Tsuba is covered with a soft metal plate; it gives sturdiness and enhances the decorativeness of this Tsuba.
If you focus on four corners, 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.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
*Please keep in mind that there is visible damage near the Sageo due to aging. If you like to see the detailed condition, please feel free to contact us.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 1011578)
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 August 26th in the first year of Reiwa (2019). 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 : Shizuoka 15291
The Board of Education in Shizuoka 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 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 an export permit. If you live in Japan, please click here before you make a purchase.
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, 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.
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.”
【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.