Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Kunishige with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Bitchu Koku Mizuta Jyu Kunishige(備中国水田住国重). 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.
Okayama prefecture is located near the Chugoku Mountains, where iron sands, one of the essential materials for making Japanese swords, were abundant. Furthermore, the swordsmiths in Okayama prefecture 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 Bichu was quite active in sword-forging from ancient times.
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.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)： 70.8 cm( 27.87 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：1.9 cm(0.75 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.
You would find golden symbol marks are designed for this Fuchi Kashira. It might be its then owner’s family crest. The plant that is the motif of this crest is the Rindou (竜胆, gentian). This family crest is called the Sasa-Rindou (笹竜胆) in Japanese. It is the combination of gentian flowers and leaves. It is said the name comes from because gentian leaves resemble bamboo grass, which is called the Sasa (笹) in Japanese. Generally, five leaves are arranged like bamboo grass, and three flowers are added on top. According to a theory, people started using the Sasa-Rindou pattern as a family crest in the early Kamakura period. And it became a popular design, especially among court nobles. Some people say that Minamoto-no Yoritomo (源頼朝), who opened the Kamakura government, used the Sasa-Rindou pattern, but there is no sure proof. Samurai families who were close to Yoritomo used this family crest.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
This Menuki’s motif might be bamboo grasses. It seems the gold-colored metal was initially applied to it. Bamboos grow neatly towards the sky, and it is vital so that this motif represents nobility and strength. Besides, the bamboo breaks straight, but its content is hollow; people thought it shows innocence. According to a Chinese legend, Houhou (鳳凰, Fenghuang) eats bamboo fruits; therefore, bamboo has been considered a sacred plant. Also, as it keeps its green color even in cold winter, people thought the bamboo pattern shows eternity and longevity. We would say that the bamboo pattern is one of the familiar designs for Japanese people since ancient times.
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.
Circle-shaped Tsuba that has Kozuka and Kougai holes. Although this Tsuba does not have any gorgeous carving design, neither gold nor silver inlay, its edge is colored with golden metal. This work was finished smooth and flat surface, and its simple design fits well with other parts of Koshirae (sword mountings) when it is put into the Tsuka (handle). Instead of ornamental decorations of this Tsuba, you would enjoy its shape and material texture.
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 19th in the second year of Reiwa (2020). 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 042491
The Board of Education in Chiba prefecture issued a registration paper for this sword . In order to obtain this paper, the sword needs to be traditionally hand forged. With this paper, its owner can legally own an authentic Japanese sword in Japan. This paper will need to be returned to the board of education when the sword being shipped abroad but you can receive a copy of it.
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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】
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 Powder, Peg remover, Oil Applicator). By watching the video instruction above , you can enjoy learning how to maintain your Japanese sword while appreciating it.