Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Kijinmaru Kunishige with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Ikeda Kijinmaru Kunishige(池田鬼神丸国重), and according to NTHK’s appraisal, it was made during the Tenwa era(1681-1684: early Edo period). Based on his remaining works, Kunishige was active in sword-forging during 1661-1684(Kanbun-Tenwa era).
His upbringing＆ career
He was the son of Anzaemon Kunimitsu, who belonged to Mizuta school located in Bichu domain(today’s Okayama prefecture). Naturally, during his early career, he lived in this region, working for the school. Later on, he moved to Osaka to become an apprentice of the second-gen Kawachi no Kami Kunisuke. And, he learned the excellent sword-forging technique from Kunisuke. Then, he moved to many places while active in sword-forging, such as Edo, Akita to improve his craftsmanship. And he eventually settled in Ikeda city in Settsu province(today’s Osaka). Since then, Kunishige started to sign as Ikeda Kijinmaru Kunishige. The smith’s name Ikeda came from the city he lived. Based on these facts, we believe this blade was forged in Ikeda city, Settsu province.
About Mizuta School
Mizuta school was founded by the descendants of Ko AOE Tametsugu(古青江為次) in the late Muromachi period(1530-). Ko AOE Tametsugu is one of the most famous swordsmiths in the late Heian period-early Kamakura period(Late 12C-Early 13C). One of his works is designated as a national treasure of Japan. AOE(青江) is the name of the school Tametsugu belonged to. It was located in Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture today. AOE school was prosperous during the Kamakura-Nanbokucho era(-Late 12C-Late 14C), but it almost disappeared in the Muromachi period. However, because of the descendants of Tametsugu, the Ko AOE-style sword became popular again and revitalized the school by changing its name to Bitchu Koku Mizuta school. The Bitchu Koku Mizuta school flourished from 1530-1700(The end of the Sengoku period to the mid-Edo period) in today’s Okayama prefecture. About 60 swordsmiths who belonged to Mizuta school and Kunishige were the most prestigious smith name only selected swords maker were allowed to use in this school. During the Edo period, many Kunishige swordsmiths moved to other parts of Japan. Ikeda Kijinmaru Kunishige is a good example.
About the second-gen Kawachi no Kami Kunisuke
The master Kijinmaru Kunishige worked for is the second-gen Kawachi no Kami Kunisuke(二代河内守国助). Kunisuke was one of the most well-known swordsmiths in Osaka during the early Edo period. The swordsmith’s name Kunisuke lasted three generations. He was famous for forging blades with the Kobushi Choji tempering line. Kobushi means fist in Japanese. This tempering line looks there are a lot of fists lining continuously. Kijinmaru Kunishige put Kobushi Choji on this blade so, he must have learned this complex technique from his master.
The significance of the name “Kijinmaru”
Kijinmaru is written as 鬼神丸, and 鬼神 means demon(鬼) god(神). However, when you take a closer look at the letter 鬼 on the signature, you can see the tiny difference from the original letter. On top of the square shape part, you can find ノ in the original, but his signature doesn’t have this part. It is said that ノ in this letter represent a demon’s horn, and a demon without this horn means he became a good god or god that helps people. We assume he signed Kijinmaru on his work, wishing his creation would be used for good deeds.
The famous anecdote about Kijinmaru Kunishige
The smith name Kijinmaru Kunishige has been very famous among Japanese people because it is said that Saito Hajime, a legendary figure in Shinsen-Gumi, owned one of his works. Saito Hajime (1842-1915) was a member of the renowned military unit Shinsen-Gumi at the end of the Edo period. He was present at the Boshin Wars, where Shinsen-Gumi had lost to the New Government Army. It was at that moment in history the New Government Party eventually demolished the Samurai military government forever.
This blade 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. You can see beautiful Kobushi Choji Hamon along with beautiful set of sword mounting.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)： 64.8 cm( 25.5 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 0.8 cm(0.31 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 Fuchi Kashira’s design might have been quoted from a narrative or legend. These people might be characters in the story. Each of them wears different types of costumes. Please look at the Kashira part; a man with a long beard holds something like a stick-shaped weapon. Another man is wearing a hood, and he brings a large cup in his hand. From their severe facial expressions, it seems they are having a meeting rather than chatting. Now, if you focus on the Fuchi part, you will find a smiling older man. He is probably not a soldier because of his cloth. It is unclear what kind of person he is, but his gentle expression contrasts with the men above. The condition of the sculpture and the ornamental decorations (gold paint, for example) are in good condition. Please enjoy its details.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
This Menuki’s motif is the dragon. The golden metal is applied to it, and it relatively remains its color. Dragons are flying, twisting their elongated bodies. Initially, the dragon is an imaginary creature found in ancient 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 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. This sacred beast design is often found in sword mountings; it shows us how many Samurais loved this animal 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.
Yotsu-Mokkou-shaped Tsuba is made from iron. It has Kozuka and Kougai holes. This Tsuba is decorated with various motifs; cobweb, dragonfly, pine needle, and mushroom.
The spider pattern has been appreciated thanks to its beautiful nest shape and the meaning of the design. As spiders nest and catch prey with their web, people considered the spider pattern had the meaning of “grabbing happiness” or “attracting things.” When the cobweb goes down in the morning, it was thought, “the person you are waiting for will come.”
Dragonfly has been inhabiting since a long time ago in Japan. As they bag preys quickly, its heroic figure was sometimes the object of belief. During the Warring States period, the dragonfly was called “Kachimushi (勝ち虫, winning insect)” because of its fearless character; it moves only forward, not backward. Lots of Samurais loved this insect design.
The pine needles pattern is designed. Even if the leaves fall, the root of the two leaves are firmly connected and will not separate: therefore, this plant motif has been treated as a lucky charm. The pine tree itself is also one of the classical designs for Japanese people. As pine trees keep their green color throughout the years by withstanding severe heat and cold, this plant pattern represents eternal youth. A theory says that people appreciated this color and wished longevity and prosperity.
The combination of a dragonfly, mushrooms, and fallen pine needles makes us feel the autumn atmosphere. We hope you would appreciate this Tsuba’s design with each motif’s story.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
If you look the Saya closely, you could see that different colors are painted alternately at regular intervals. Both are glossy black, and it adds color to the appearance of the Saya.
Authentication Paper-1：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade
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 May 24th in the third 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.
Authentication Paper-2：NTHK Kanteisho Certificate for the blade
NTHK, also known as NPO Nihon Touken Hozon Kai, is the oldest organization for sword authentication of Japanese swords in modern times. It was established in 1889 during the post-Samurai era. They authenticated the blade on April 16th in the 29th year of Heisei (2017). 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 316913
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, 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.
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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.