Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Fujiwara Tadahiro with NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Hizenkoku Jyu Musashi Daijo Fujiwara Tadahiro (肥前国住武蔵大掾藤原忠広) in Feb, 8th year of the Kan-Ei era (1631: the early Edo period). This maker’s name was used by the first-gen Tadayoshi in his career. Hizenkoku is the province’s name in today’s Saga prefecture on Kyushu island. The first-gen Tadayoshi is considered one of the most renowned swordsmiths during the early Edo period. Also, the maker’s name, Tadayoshi, lasted many generations throughout the Edo period.
He was born in the third year of the Genki era (1572: Late Muromachi period) as the son of Hashimoto Michihiro. Tadayoshi’s birthname was Hashimoto Shinzaemon. It is said that Hashimoto family had Samurai lineage and served Ryuzoji Daimyo (feudal lord) as a retainer for generations on Kyushu island. However, in 1584, his grandfather Morihiro and Father Michihiro were killed in a war called Okinawa-te no Tatakai, where Ryuzoji clan fought against Shimazu clan. Therefore, Hashimoto family couldn’t keep serving the clan and status of Samurai because Tadayoshi, the head of the family, was just 13 years old.
The whole family turned the new leaf. Tadayoshi was supported by Dotanuki Zenbei, who was related to Tadayoshi and had served Kato Kiyomasa, a legendary warlord during Sengoku Jidai (Warring state period). It is said that he learned sword-forging techniques from Zenbei for about 13 years.
In 1596, under the domain’s order, he went to Kyoto to learn the sword-forging techniques from Umetada Myojyu(埋忠明寿), one of the greatest swordsmiths in the early Edo period. Tadayoshi improved his craftsmanship and returned to the Saga domain three years later (1598). The first head of the Nabeshima clan, Nabeshima Katsushige, appreciated the work of the first-gen Tadayoshi very much. Then, Katsushige appointed him as his Okakaekaji, a swordsmith who exclusively forged swords for a specific domain or clan. And Tadayoshi started to stay near Saga castle, which was the headquarter of the Nabeshima clan. Then, he founded his school, which trained more than 100 swordsmiths during the Edo period. His outstanding skills were passed to the generations of Tadayoshi and among apprentices.
According to available records, the earliest work he signed his signature with the year is the 5th year of the Keicho era (1600), when he was 29 years old. Interestingly, he revisited Kyoto in the 10th year of the Genwa era (1624) and received an honorable official title of Musashi Daijyo on Feb 18th from the emperor for his excellent craftsmanship. And, he changed his name to Tadahiro. He made 4 different signatures during his career. They are Hizen Koku Shinzaemonnojo Tadayoshi , Hizen Koku Junin Tadayoshi, Hizen Koku Jyu Fujiwara Tadayoshi and Musashi Daijyo Tadahiro. He was active in sword-forging for about 30 years. And he died in the 9th year of the Kanei era (1632).
The swordsmiths in the Hizen province worked under the auspices of the Nabeshima clan like Tadayoshi. They could produce beautiful blades with Konuka Hada, whose steel surface is very smooth. This Hada is one of the most well-known characteristics of the blades produced in Hizen province. The swordsmiths also used and mixed carbon steel made in western countries. Since Hizenkoku had been flourishing through international trading, it had easy access to western carbon steel.
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): 70.8 cm (27.9 inches)
Curvature (Sori): 2.0 cm (0.79 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
Kissaki: Kissaki is the tip of the Japanese sword.
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 surface of this Fuchi Kashira is decorated with the Nanako-Ji (魚子地) technique. This process makes a uniform minimal protrusions pattern by hitting the Nanako-Ji Tagane (魚子地鏨, a chisel for this technique) on a metal surface. This decorative technique is often seen on sword mountings.
This Fuchi Kashira depicts a pattern that looks like a scene from some story. On the Kashira part, a man could be seen crossing the sea on a boat. He wears continental clothing and holds a spear in his right hand. It is unclear who this person is, or what the story is, given that the subject matter is taken from a story, but the careful carvings reveal the artist’s high skill level.
Tsuka and Menuki: Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
NBTHK appraised this Menuki as the Hozon Tousougu. According to the certificate, the theme of this Menuki is the Genpei Kassen (源平合戦). It is also called the Jishou Juei-no Ran (治承・寿永の乱) and stretched over six years from 1180 until 1185. This is the battle between the Minamoto (源) clan (Genji family) and the Taira (平) clan (Heike family). By Mochihito Ou’s (以仁王) call, many Samurai warriors raised armies to overthrow the Taira family. It was the trigger of this protracted conflict. Mochihito Ou was unfortunately beaten by the Taira family and passed away in 1180. However, after that, the Minamoto family side Samurai warriors defeated the Taira side armies one after another. Finally, the Minamoto side won the battle and overthrew the Taira clan in 1185 at Dan-no Ura (壇ノ浦). It was the final battle of the Genpei Kassen, which led to the destruction of the Taira clan, who reached the height of glory.
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 dragon is the motif of this Tsuba. This dragon is carefully sculpted to the smallest detail, giving it a dignified appearance. Initially, dragons were imaginary creatures found in ancient foreign traditions or myths. Furthermore, it is regarded as a symbol 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, the 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.
If you focus on the center part, we could find the Mei (銘, engraved signature). It is written as 一柳 友善 (Hitotsuyanagi Yuzen). Please note that there is no proof of this signature.
Saya: Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper: NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 153228)
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 May 30th in the 30th year of Heisei (2018). 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: Mie 71
The Board of Education in Mie prefecture issued a registration paper for this sword . It is called Jyu Hou Token Rui Tourokusho (銃砲刀剣類登録証). 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 700 Japanese swords for the past few years (～2024) 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, 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.
Here is one of the reviews we received from a customer who purchased an authentic Japanese sword from us. For more reviews, please click here.
“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.
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.