Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Kuniyasu＆Kunisuke with Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by both Higo no Kami Kuniyasu (肥後守国康) and Kawachi no Kami Kunisuke (河内守国助), judging from the signature. We believe it was forged during the early Edo period (Kanbun era: 1661-1673 ). When two swordsmiths collaborated to create one work, it is called Gassaku (合作). It was generally done by a master and his apprentice or his son. Kuniyasu was the third son of Kunisuke. Kuniyasu’s birth name was Kobayashi Minamoto Zaemon. They both received the honorable official title of “Kami” from the emperor for their excellent craftsmanship.
Kawachi no Kami Kunisuke
Kunisuke was one of the most well-known swordsmiths in Osaka during the early Edo period. There were three generations of Kunisuke in total. We believed the first-gen was involved in forging this blade. Kuniyasu’s older brother is known as the second-gen Kunisuke. Since the second-gen was active between the first and the third-gen Kunisuke, the second-gen was also called Naka Kawachi(中河内). Kawachi is the short term of Kawachi no Kami, and Naka means the middle in Japanese.
The first-gen Kunisuke was born in Ise province(today’s Mie province) and served Seki Kazumasa, the head of Kameyama castle. However, after the Seki clan was destroyed, he moved to Kyoto. He became an apprentice of Horikawa Kunihiro, one of the most famous swordsmiths during the early Edo period. After Kunihiro deceased, Kunisuke learned the sword-forging technique from Echigo no Kami Kunitomo. Eventually, he moved to Osaka with Izumi no Kami Kunisada to become an independent sword maker in the seventh year of Kaenei(1630). It is said that he played an essential role in making Osaka Shinto movement. the superb craftsmanship of the first-gen was passed down to Kuniyasu.
The blades forged by Kuniyasu or Kunisuke are categorized as Osaka Shinto. Shinto is Japanese Sword terminology that refers to the swords forged during 1596-1781. The blades made in the Osaka area during this period are called Osaka Shinto. There are many famous swordsmiths in this Osaka Shinto era. After Hideyoshi Toyotomi built Osaka castle, Osaka city flourished as a castle town and became the business center. Many swordsmiths moved to Osaka to look for better opportunities. They not only forged swords for those Samurai who lived in Osaka but also for feudal lords nationwide. Ikanshi Tadatsuna(Awataguchi Omi no Kami Tadatsuna), Inoue Shinkai, and Tsuda Sukehiro are the most famous among many swordsmiths.
One of the most notable characteristics of Osaka Shinto is its beauty in Jigane. Jigane is a visible steel surface pattern created by folding and hammering during the forging process), which made it possible by the location of Osaka. Osaka had close access to the Tamahagane(special carbon steel to make Japanese swords) production sites. The swordsmiths residing in Osaka were able to get high-quality carbon steel from these sites.
This blade is appraised as a Hozon Token(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, well preserved with artistic value.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)： 68.8 cm ( 27.1 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.
The Fuchi Kashira and Tsuba have a matching designs. They are called the Nanban style. Arabesque is designed on both sword mounting. It is a pattern 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 it has another pronunciation; “Man.” There is a word 万 (it is also read Man), which means thousand. In the Karakusa pattern, leaves and vines are connected like Obi (帯, belt). The word “帯” can also be read as “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.
Although we cannot see the entire shape of this Menuki, we think the Kiri (桐, paulownia) pattern is designed on this Menuki. It is generally composed of three standing straight inflorescences and three leaves. The number of flowers that are blooming at each inflorescence means the ranks of this design. It is also famous that one of the most popular Samurais in Japan: Toyotomi Hideyoshi used the Kiri pattern for his family crest. According to a theory, Hideyoshi used Omodaka (沢瀉, arrowhead) pattern as his family crest. However, Oda Nobunaga, a well-known military commander in the Warring States period, permitted Hideyoshi to use Kiri design. This plant pattern was once used by the imperial family and national leaders of the time. Today, this plant pattern is used as the crest of the Japanese Government.
Gosan-no-Kiri Monyou (五三の桐文様) is a popular design that the paulownia motif is used. This pattern was once used by the imperial family and people in authority at that time. Today, it is permitted to use by ordinary households and is appreciated as their family crests. According to a tradition, Houou (鳳凰, Fenghuang, a kind of sacred beast) rests its wings at the paulownia tree; therefore, it has come to be regarded as a holy plant.
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-Mkkou-shaped Tsuba is made from iron. We assume this Tsuba is categorized as the Nanban-style Tsuba. Nanban Tsuba generally has a circle shape or Mokkou shape as this work. Dragons, foreign letters, or arabesque designs are often engraved and inlaid with gold or silver on the thin iron. This style’s Tsuba has an exotic mood.
In this Tsuba, you would find slender body dragons are engraved, the same as the Fuchi Kashira. Initially, the dragon is an imaginary creature found in ancient foreign 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 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. Not only in Nanban-style Tsubas, but we could also find this dignified beast motif in many sword mountings. It shows lots of Samurais cherished this design.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Raden technique is applied on this Saya. It is a kind of decorative technique that is often used for traditional craftworks. It uses the pearl part of seashells and put it into the engraved surface of lacquer or wood. Thanks to its iridescent luster, it gives a luxurious look to works.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 3022002)
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 Aug 26th in the first year of Reiwa (2019). They appraised it as Hozon Touken, the blade worth preserving for Japanese society. The purchaser will receive these original certificates as well. We can also translate what is written into English and make a PDF file for your record if you request.
Registration Number : Hyogo 14863
The Board of Education in Hyogo 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.
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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.”
【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.
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* 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.
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【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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