Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Motohira with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Oku Yamato no Kami Taira Ason Motohira (奥大和守平朝臣元平) in the third year of the Kyowa era (1803). Motohira is one of the most renowned swordsmiths in Satsuma domain (Today’s Kagoshima prefecture) during the late Edo period. Oku Yamato no Kami and Ason are titles given to him in his career for his excellent craftsmanship.
He was born in October, the first year of the Enkyo era (1744), as the first son of Oku Motonao in Satsuma domain. His birth name was Oku Kouzaemon. It was often the case with many swordsmiths that they used different makers’ names from their real names.
In his early career, he learned sword-forging techniques from his father, and when he was 38 years old, he became a Hanko (藩工), who exclusively forged swords for a specific clan. This fact suggests that his craftsmanship was widely recognized in the domain. Furthermore, he received Yamato no Kami in the first year of the Kansei era (1789). Kami is an honorable official title given by the emperor to highly skilled swordsmiths. It is said that he trained many swordsmiths, including Bizen Sukehira. Many of his apprentices traveled to Satsuma domain from a very long distance. We assume his sword-forging techniques were very refined and appreciated among Japanese swordsmiths. Motohira was great at forging blades in Soshu Den tradition.
Considering when he was born, this blade was forged in his late 50s. He lived a long life, and he died at the age of 84 in 1826. He kept forging blades until he was 83 years old. He must have had full of vitality to make high-quality blades throughout his career.
Satsuma province had a high ratio of Samurai population compared to other parts of Japan. And they are famous for their military power ruled by Shimazu clan. We assume a swordsmith needed to be skilled to stay active and popular in this demanding place. Motohira was one of them. This blade has thick width and heavy weight, which would give you muscular impression on the blade. It must have been owned by a high-class Samurai who was strong enough to handle this blade.
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)： 71.2 cm (28.0 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：2.2 cm (0.86 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 has a simple look. It does not have gorgeous decorations such as gold or silver inlays. This Fuchi Kashira focuses on practicality rather than its appearance. However, we could enjoy the color and texture of the metal material more directly by seeing and touching it because there are no decorations, and above all since this sword munting is a part of the Koshirae (拵, the exterior of the sword), we assume such a simple design part was chosen to bring the Koshirae looks in a better balance.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
Two masks are the motifs of this Menuki. The upper side Menuki, it shapes an Otafuku (お多福) mask. Its model is the face of a short-nosed woman with round features, a protruding forehead, and swollen cheeks. Although this expression is sometimes used in a negative sense, it was considered the epitome of Japanese beauty during the Heian period. It is said that the name Otafuku (お多福, lots of happiness/good luck) came from the meaning of a woman who brings much good luck to her husband’s home. In addition, the Otafuku was initially welcomed as a good sign of good fortune. There is also the theory that he was a person who served God.
The lower side Menuki’s motif is the Shishimai (獅子舞). This is a folk art in which people wear lion heads and dance on auspicious or festive days. Shishi (獅子) generally means a lion in Japanese. Although the name suggests a lion, the Shishi for the Shishimai is based on a mythical creature rather than a real-life lion. It was originally danced to exorcise demons, famine, and pestilence, so it means praying for and celebrating good fortune, good health, and a good harvest. According to a theory, The Shishimai was brought to Japan from the continent in 612. According to the writings of the time, at the beginning of a traditional silent performing art called Gigaku (伎楽), a Karajishi (唐獅子) dance was performed to ward off evil spirits on stage. This is said to be the beginning of the Shishimai. Since this Gigaku was rooted in Buddhism, this dance was performed on stage and in temples to purify the atmosphere. Shoutoku Taishi (聖徳太子), a famous politician at the time, also focused on Gigaku to spread Buddhism, and often had Shishimai performances at Houe (法会, gatherings for offering memorial services and preaching Buddhist teachings). It is said that this was how the Shishimai became widely known among ordinary people.
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.
The same as the Fuchi Kashira, this Tsuba also has a plain design. There are minor scratches and dents due to aging. We hope you would enjoy them as antique textures.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
This Saya is coated with stingray skin.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 1002508)
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 July 9th 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 : Kagoshima 10378
The Board of Education in Kagoshima 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 an export permit. If you live in Japan, please click here before you make a purchase.
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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, 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.
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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.”
【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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