Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Soshu Masatoshi with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Masatoshi (政俊), who resided in Odawara city, Soshu province, also known as Sagami area. Masatoshi was active during the late Muromachi period (1504-1528). Based on the intricate Hamon (tempering line) and gorgeous Sugata (the entire appearace of the blade), he must have mastered superb level of the craftsmanship. It has a very distinctive Horimono (engraving) on boths sides. One side says Setsunin To (殺人刀) and the other side says Katsunin To (活人刀). This expression means that a Katana that potentially hurts or kills people could work as an object that helps them survive, depending on how to use it.
Swordsmiths residing in Soshu province (Today’s Kanagawa prefecture) used a particular sword-forging tradition called Soshu Den. Shoshu Den was born in the middle of the Kamakura period (mid 13th century). Back then, the Yamato and Yamashiro traditions were highly developed, and there were a few renowned swordsmiths from those regions. However, the sword-forging practice was in its infancy in the Kanto area, where the Soshu region was located.
At the beginning of the Kamakura government, which was established in 1185, the first Shogun, Minamoto Yoritomo, prioritized making a lot of rules to have its political stability. And he couldn’t afford to hire swordsmiths within the same region or train them. Therefore, the Kamakura government originally ordered weapons to the swordsmiths in the other areas, such as Yamato and Yamashiro.
But, since the government was established, the demand for weapons increased exponentially in the government, and they had to figure out how to meet those demands from Samurai who served Kamakura shogunate. Then, the 5th head of the Shogun, Hojo Tokiyori, invited two renowned swordsmiths from other parts of Japan. They were Awataguchi Kunitsuna from Yamashiro province and Bizen Saburo Kunimune from Bizen province. And the 7th-gen Shogun Koreyasu Shino also invited Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane from Bizen province.
It is said that those three swordsmiths played an essential role in creating the Soshu Den and making the foundation of the Soshu Den. Also another famous figure in the Soshu den is Intou Kunimitsu, an adopted son of Awataguchi Knitsuna. And Kunimitsu passed his excellent craftsmanship to Yukimitsu, his apprentice. And Masamune, one of the most famous swordsmiths in Japanese history, was an apprentice of Yukimitsu. And Masamune was the one that brought Shoshuden to nationwide fame. The tradition Masamune completed became an example of other swordsmiths who learned Soshu Den. Also, Soshu Den influenced many renowned swordsmiths during the Koto- Shinto era. One of examples is Inoue Shinkai from Osaka and Suishinshi Masahide from Edo.
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)：74.4 cm (29.3 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 2.9 cm ( 1.15 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 Kiri Karakusa (桐唐草) pattern is designed on this Fuchi Kashira. As its name implies, this design is a combination of the Kiri and the Karakusa (唐草, arabesque). Although the Kiri (桐, paulownia) parts were simplified, it is surmised to be this flower pattern from its outline. Golden coloring (estimated brass inlay) is applied to it, making an ornamental look to this work.
The Kiri pattern is generally composed of three standing straight inflorescences and three leaves. The number of blooming flowers at each inflorescence means the ranks of this design. As seen on this Fuchi Kashira, the Gosan-no-Kiri (五三の桐) pattern is a popular design that the paulownia motif is used. We think this design is incorporated into this Fuchi Kashira. This pattern was once used by the imperial family and people in authority back then. Today, it is permitted to use by ordinary households and is appreciated as their family crests. According to a tradition, the 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.
The Karakusa pattern is a design in which vine stems and leaves 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. In this way, this Fuchi Kashira is decorated with such auspicious motifs.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
Bamboo is the motif of this Menuki. Golden paint is effectively used here and there. Bamboos grow neatly towards the sky, and it is vital so that this motif represents nobility and strength. Besides, bamboo breaks straight, but its content is hollow; people thought it showed innocence. According to a foreign legend, the Houhou (鳳凰, Fenghuang) eats bamboo fruits; therefore, bamboo has been considered a sacred plant. In addition, bamboos keep their green color even in cold winter. People thought the bamboo pattern showed eternity and longevity.
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 other sword mountings, this Tsuba’s design is also related to plants. Its motif is the Matsu (松, pine tree); the design features a huge pine tree with abundant leaves. There are traces of golden paints (estimated brass inlay). Since pine trees keep their green color throughout the years by withstanding severe heat and cold, people thought this plant pattern represents eternal youth. Furthermore, its color is called the Tokiwa-Iro (常盤色, evergreen trees’ dark green color with brown), and pine trees have another name “Tokiwa-Gi (常盤木).” Tokiwa means immutability, so Tokiwa-Iro is a color that praises green with a wish for longevity and prosperity. It is said people have greatly appreciated this color as a lucky color, especially in the Edo period.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 141262)
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 August 7th in the 8th year of Heisei (1996). 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 14933
The Board of Education in Mie 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.
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.
*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.
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.