Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Kunitake with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Musashi Jyu Kunitake (武蔵住国武) in Feb, the second year of the Genji era (1865: The end of the Edo period). Musashi Jyu means that Kunitake lived in Musashi province when he forged this blade. He was also known as Yamato Daijyo Kunitake (大和大掾国武). He originally signed Seiryushi Minamoto Kunitake. Seiryushi is literally trasnalted as a child of blue dragon. The maker’s name Kunitake lasted several generations from the Shotoku era (1712～). And we believe this blade created by the 5th-gen Kunitake who lived in Edo city.
The Background History
Japan enjoyed a relatively peaceful time from the early Edo period to the mid-Edo period(the 1600s-1760s) because of the stable economy and the powerful government run by Tokugawa Shogun. Samurai didn’t have many opportunities to utilize his Katana sword in public or on battlefields during this time. Thus, they carried their swords more as a symbol of their social status. The demand for weapons decreased accordingly compared to the previous Warring state period called Sengoku Jidai. (1467-1600)
However, toward the end of the Edo period(1764-1876), the Japanese sword’s role changed dramatically. With the poverty spreading in Japan, there were so many riots initiated by the civilians. Japanese sword started to play an essential role in maintaining public safety.
Pressure from foreign countries to open Japanese borders also forced Samurai to order strong-looking swords to survive this tumultuous time. We believe many swordsmiths, including Kunitake, made great efforts to forge high-quality, practical blades for their masters to prepare for battles. This blade has strong looking and must have been practical to use in that demanding time.
There was a civil war called Boshin war between Tokugawa’s Shogunate government and the new Meiji imperial government at the end of the Edo period. That means the original owner of this Katana might have seen the moment when Samurai’s life changed forever. After this battle, Tokugawa Shogunate was ousted, and the imperial government gained control.
Between the Mune and Shinogi areas, we see Homare Kizu (誉疵), which tells us that this blade was used in a battle. Homare means honorable, and Homare Kizu is considered a good blade characteristic that tells us its history. Considering it was forged by the end of the Edo period and the swordsmith resided in Edo city, it might have been ordered by a high-class Samurai in Edo, and he used it in an actual battle situation.
Aside from the Homare Kizu, one of the most notable characteristics of this blade is its thickness (Kasane) and wide width (Haba). With less curvature and 76.9 cm cutting edge length, and heavyweight, we assume its owner must have been a very muscular Samurai.
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)：76.9 cm ( 30.2 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 1.0 cm ( 0.39 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 Budou (葡萄, grape) is designed on this Fuchi Kashira. Although some parts have worn down and some colorings have already faded due to aging, you would see fruits and leaves. Leaves are colored with golden paint, which adds decorativeness to this work. According to a theory, the grape pattern represents fertility, good health, and longevity. People treat this motif as an auspicious design.
In Japanese, there is the word Budou (武道) which means martial arts. As Budou (葡萄, grape) has the same pronunciation as this word, it is considered that the grape pattern shares some underlying ideas with Bushido (武士道, Japanese chivalry). That is why many Samurai appreciated the grape motif. Especially the combination of grape and squirrel patterns was widespread. The squirrel has been a familiar animal to people since ancient times. Since squirrels resemble mice, that is fertile animals; people regarded squirrels as the symbol of the prosperity of descendants.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
You would find this Menuki has the shape that four rings lined up side by side. Adjacent rings are connected by intersecting each other in a staggered position. The golden paint is applied to each Menuki, and this coloring remains relatively in good condition. We think this design is categorized as a kind of Wachigai (輪違い) pattern.
There are a variety of repertoires of Wachigai design. The Wachigai pattern was incorporated into family crests as an auspicious design because of the beauty of its shape. And people found auspiciousness in this pattern that looks like an endless chain of rings. Here, too, we could speculate that this Menuki was probably designed as the family crest of the former owner.
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.
Oval-shaped iron Tsuba that has Kozuka and Kougai holes. Its design seems to be a circle that surrounds a cross pattern. There is a famous family crest that has a similar shape: Maru-ni Juji (丸に十字) pattern. This mark was used by the Shimazu Daimyo family, based in Satsuma (薩摩, the west side of Kagoshima prefecture today) from the Kamakura period (1185-1333) to the Edo period. There are several theories about the origin of this design. Firstly, it is said that this pattern symbolizes the figure of two dragons. Some people regarded this shape depicts two dragons intertwined and ascending to the heavens. Secondly, its origin is the charm; crossing two chopsticks. It was to put a spell for the victory of battles. Another theory says it comes from a spell in the form of “cutting a cross.” People once believed this action would protect them from misfortune and bring good luck. Therefore, it is thought that the Maru ni Juji Mon has been regarded as a good omen motif and started to be used for family crests.
We are unsure if this Tsuba’s design was inspired by the Maru-ni Juji design. However, we hope you enjoyed this story as one of the possibilities of its theme.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 1002006)
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 Mar. 20th in the 26th year of Heisei (2014). 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 32376
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 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.
【How To Contact Us】
Please contact us through email, Facebook Messenger or Live Chat if you have any questions. You can find each icon on the right side of the website. Please click one of them to reach us. We will reply to you within 1-2 business days.
【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.