Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Katsumitsu with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Bizen Koku Jyu Osafune Katsumitsu (備前国住長船勝光) in August, the 11th year of the Eisho era (1514: Late Muromachi period). Osafune was one of the most prestigious schools in the Bizen Koku area during the late Muromachi period. Bizen Koku is the province’s name located in today’s Okayama prefecture. Bizen Koku Jyu means that Katsumitsu resided in this area when he forged this blade. He was active during the Eisho era (1504-1521).
The swordsmith Katsumitsu gained enormous fame throughout the Muromachi period in Bizen province. Based on the year inscribed on the Nakago tang, we believe this blade was created by Jirozaemon (次郎左衛門), the birth name of Katsumitsu. Judging from available records, Jirozaenmon was born as the son of Ukyonosuke Katsumitsu (右京亮勝光). The maker’s name Katsumitsu lasted a few generations and it was a hereditary name in Osafune school. And the first gen was active during the O-Ei era (1394-1428).
Those who forged swords in the Bizen province(Okayama prefecture) at the end of the Muromachi Period(1492-1569 A.D) are called Matsu Bizen(Matsu means the end). Katsumitsu school was one of the most famous schools, and it flourished for generations among Osafune schools.
The swordsmiths in Bizen 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 would be nice to have a piece forged in the warring state period when there was so much rivalry between warlords. It was possible that this blade was ordered by a high-class Samurai and he might have carried it in a battlefield.
BIZEN is located near the Chugoku Mountains, where iron sands, one of the essential materials for making Japanese swords, were abundant. Furthermore, BIZEN swordsmiths had close access to Yoshi River, where they could find water and charcoal. This geological location contributed to the swordsmiths to forge high-quality refined blades. We presume BIZEN was quite active in sword-forging from ancient times. It is said that BIZEN DEN was created by groups of swordsmiths there after the late Heian era(Late 12th century ).
This blade is relatively short but has no trace of getting shortened (Suriage) in the past. Considering these facts, we believe this blade was primarily made for one-hand combat. The user could hold this sword with one hand, a popular way to fight during the late Muromachi period.
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)：61.8 cm(24.3 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.
The dragon is the principal motif of this Fuchi Kashira. Golden coloring is applied to dragon’s eyes and mustache. And clouds surround dragon’s body. This combination is often seen in sword mountings; it shows that lots of Samurais favored this dignified beast design.
Initially, the dragon is 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, mythical animal in Japan which looks like a snake and have 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.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
Same as the Fuchi Kashira, this Menuki’s motif is also the dragon. As it is colored with golden paint, it makes a gorgeous color contrast with the black thread of Tsukamaki. Its condition is relatively good, so you could enjoy seeing the details, even each scale. If you focus on the lower dragon’s hand, you will find that it brings a ball-shaped object. It is the Nyoi Houju (如意宝珠, Cintāmaṇi); a fantasy jewel that fulfills any desire, gives out treasure, clothes, food, and drink. 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 king of the dragon.
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 Komedawara (米俵, straw rice bag) is the motif of this Tsuba. Five straw bags are arranged evenly, and the entire outline of the Tsuba looks like a flower. The straw rice bag has been regarded as a symbol of wealth. If you have seen the Takarabune (宝船, treasure ship) of the Shichifukujin (七福神, the Seven Gods of Good Fortune) before, you probably found that straw rice bags are depicted on the ship. This motif represents plentiful harvest, family safety, and business success. We guess there might be the following idea to choose this design for the sword mounting. Obtaining sufficient rice is a metaphor for an affluent life and belonging to the upper class of the Samurai. It is just a guess, but rice always has a deep connection with Japanese people’s lives. So, it is understandable that this motif was incorporated in Samurai-related items.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 1017092)
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 Dec 3rd in the 3rd year of Reiwa (2021). 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 : Chiba 22425
The Board of Education in Chiba 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 400 Japanese swords for the past three years (～2022) 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 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.
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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.