Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Kunishige with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Otsuki Yogo Uemon I Kunishige(大月与五右衛門尉国重). The back of the signature also says Bitchu Koku Mizuta Jyunin(備中国水田住人). It is estimated that this swordsmith was active during the early Edo period(Mid-Late 17th century).
Kunishige belonged to Bitchu Koku Mizuta school, which had been founded by the descendants of Ko AOE Tametsugu(古青江為次) in the late Muromachi period(1530-).
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.
There are two major groups in Kunishige swordsmiths during the Edo period. One is called Oyogo Kunishige school(大与五国重派), lead by Master Otsuki（大月）and the other is called Kono school(河野派) lead by Tameie(為家). As you can guess from this swordsmith’s name, this Kunishige belonged to Oyogo Kunishige school. We believe he must have been a prestigious swordsmith as he was allowed to use 大月与五 in his signature.
This blade is stored in Tachi(太刀) Koshirae. Tachi was mainly used by an armored Samurai with one hand on horseback from the Heian period (794-1185 A.D.) until the early Muromachi period. TACHI was suspended loosely on the left waist with its edge facing the ground so that you could draw it faster to cut down soldiers on the ground.
Because of its gorgeous looking, having a Tachi-style sword mounting became a social status among Samurai. We presume this blade was owned by a high-ranked Samurai who was wealthy enough to own a blade forged by a famous swordsmith with the Tachi-style sword mounting.
This blade is appraised as a Tokubetsu Hozon certificate issued by NBTHK. This authentication paper was only given to Japanese swords, especially worth preserving by Nihon Bijutsu Touken Hozon Kyokai(the Society for the Preservation of the Japan Art Sword).
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)： 68.5 cm( 27.0 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.
Small circular protrusions are arranged without any disturbance and decorate the entire surface of this Fuchi Kashira. This technique is called Nanako-Ji (魚子地). The ground is hit by the Nanako-Ji Tagane (魚子地鏨, chisel used for this technique). It makes us feel the maker’s expert skill.
Although most parts of the golden color have already been flaked off due to aging, it seems the gold was initially painted on the Fuchi Kashira. It gave the elegant impression for the appearance of this sword’s Koshirae, of course including Fuchi Kashira.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
Dragons coil their elongated bodies around swords. This design is called Kurikara Ken (倶利伽羅, the sword that Fudo Myo-O brings his right hand). It is said the Kurikara Ryu (倶利伽羅龍) changed its figure to this fire. Fudo Myo-O (不動明王) is a protective god in Buddhism, particularly Japanese Shingon Buddhism. This god was also known as a god of wars.
The dragon itself is also a trendy motif for sword mountings. Initially, the dragon is an imaginary creature found in ancient traditions or myths. Furthermore, it is 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. As there are many works of dragon design for Koshirae, we would guess that many Samurais loved this 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.
Aoi-Gata Tsuba is made from iron. The golden metal is applied to Kozuka and Kougai holes. If you focus on four corners of this Tsuba, you will find heart mark-shaped holes. It is called the Inome Sukashi (猪の目透かし). The Inome pattern has been used since ancient times. As its name implies, the eyes of the boar are the origin of this design. Some people believed that the Inome design works as an amulet to protect them from evil spirits or fire. Also, it is said it would bring good luck. This pattern is often used for Aoi-Gata Tsuba. Also, the Inome design is found in traditional Japanese architectures such as shrines or temples and used Gegyo (懸魚, decoration under the roof, where the roof is jointed) or metal fittings for hiding timber joints.
The principal motif of this Tsuba is the clouds. Clouds that are layered on top of each other are sculpted semi-three-dimensionally and colored with golden metal. We would imagine that this motif might have been chosen due to this Menuki’s design to combine dragons and clouds. According to a theory, dragons dwell in the clouds. And clouds bring the blessed rain. In Japan, there is a belief that worships dragon as a water god and is called Ryujin Shinkou (竜神信仰). Since rice cultivation has been flourished in this country, water is always an essential resource. That is, clouds have a deep connection with dragons.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：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 Feb 25th 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.
Registration Number : Kanagawa 14590
The Board of Education in Kanagawa 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.
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【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 300 Japanese swords 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.
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We have shipped authentic Japanese swords to the USA, Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany , France and Hong Kong. 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.
*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】
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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. When you purchase a Japanese sword from us, you can get a Free sword maintenance kit, which appears in this video.