Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Hosokawa Masamori with NBTHK JUYO TOKEN Certificate
This blade was signed by Saku Yo Bakkashi Hosokawa Masamori (作陽幕下士細川正守) in the 4th year of the Ansei era (1857: The end of the Edo period). Saku Yo Bakkashi signifies that he was also a Samurai, and we assume he engraved these letters to show his dignity for being a Samurai. Hosokawa Masamori was active during the Koka-early Meiji era (1844-early 1870s). He was the son of Hosokawa Masayoshi, one of the most renowned swordsmiths during the late Edo period.
His father, Hosokawa Masayoshi, had learned sword-forging techniques under the master, Suishinshi Masahide(水心子正秀), one of the most famous swordsmiths in Samurai history. Masamori learned sword-forging techniques in Edo city under master Taikei Naotane, an apprentice of Suishinshi Masahide.
Masayoshi was an extremely skilled swordsmith, and he was excellent at forging blades with Choji Midare Hamon, which is the characteristic of the Bizen sword-forging style (BIZEN DEN). Masamori also mastered this excellent sword-forging technique from his father. Choji Midare Hamon is an Irregular wavy tempering line. Most of Masamori’s work reflects on Bizen Den (One of the Five Japanese sword-forging traditions). Hosokawa Masamori was famous for having a gorgeous groove (Hi: 樋) on his creations.
Mamori and his father served the Matsudaira clan in the Sakushu Tsuyama domain(today’s Okayama prefecture). They served the clan as a Hanko(藩工), who exclusively forged swords for a specific clan.
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 (27.5 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：2.3 cm (0.90 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. According to the certificate, this blade was heavily shortened in the past (Osuriage: 大磨り上げ).
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 is made of silvery metal. The Karakusa (唐草, arabesque) pattern is engraved elegantly on the entire surface. Each vein of every leaf is elaborately carved; it shows the proficiency of its maker.
The Karakusa pattern is a design in which stems and leaves of vines 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. Vine is called Tsuru (蔓) in Japanese and has another pronunciation; Man. There is a word 万 (it is also read Man), which means ten thousand. In the Karakusa pattern, leaves and vines are connected like Obi (帯, belt). The word 帯 can also be read “Tai.” Due to its pronunciation, the term 代 (Tai) is associated. From this word-association game, an idiom 万代 is associated, and it means a thousand generations. In other words, we could imagine that people used this design wishing prosperity and longevity for their clans for a long time.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
Seeing from the gaps of the Tsukamaki thread, this Menuki’s motif is the dragon. You would find the figures of dragons that twist their elongated bodies. It seems there are no traces of colorings, such as gold or silver. Although there is no gorgeous coloring, it is a work that could be enjoyed its carving itself because it is carefully carved down to the details.
If you focus on the lower side Menuki, you will find that this dragon brings a small ball-shaped object in its hand. It is the Nyoi Houju (如意宝珠, Cintāmaṇi); a fantasy jewel that fulfills any desire and gives out treasure, clothes, food, and drinks. Moreover, it heals illness and suffering, removes evils, purifies muddy water, and prevents disasters. It is said this magical item is taken from the brain of the dragon king.
Initially, the dragon was an imaginary creature found in ancient 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, 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. We can find lots of sword mountings with dragon designs. It means many Samurai appreciated this dignified beast motif.
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.
Circle-shaped Tsuba that has a Kozuka hole. Its edge and the Kozuk hole are framed with a thin golden plate. Two Karajishis (唐獅子) are designed on the front, and Botan (牡丹, peony) flowers are engraved on the backside. Although some colors have already faded due to aging, this golden coloring and Tsuba’s black color make an elegant contrast.
The Karajishi is a classical subject and has favored designing various items for a long time. The Shishi (獅子) means a lion in Japanese, and the Karajishi is a lion brought from the Continent to Japan in the Toh period (唐, Tang dynasty, 618-907). The Kara-Jishi typically has curly hair for its head, neck, body, and tail. In Buddhism, the Karajishi is regarded as a symbol of wisdom, and the Monju Bosatu (文殊菩薩, Manjushri Bodhisattva) rides lions. According to a theory, the Kara-Jishi originates from the Komainu (狛犬, stone guardian dogs that exorcize evil spirits).
Peony represents happiness, wealth, nobleness, and gorgeousness. This flower pattern has been treated as a kind of good-omen motif; people regarded it as a rich harvest sign. As mentioned above, the peony is called Botan 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.
There is a Houwa (法話, Buddhist monks tell the story of Buddhism in an easy-to-understand manner) that treats the Karajishi and this flower. The lion is called the king of the beasts. However, even this invincible animal has only one fear; a bug in the lion’s body. This pest grows in the lion’s hair and eventually breaks the skin and bites the flesh. Nevertheless, it dies if it is exposed to be the night dew of a peony. Therefore, the lion rests under peony flowers at night, looking for a haven. This Tsuba’s design might have been inspired by this story.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK JUYO TOKEN Certificate for the blade (No. 5772)
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 July 10th in the 51th year of Showa (1976). 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 : Tokyo 184246
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 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.
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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】
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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