Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by the first-gen Tadayoshi with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Hizenkoku Jyunin Tadayoshi (肥前国住人忠吉) during the early Edo period. The maker’s name Tadayoshi lasted a few generations throughout the Edo period. And NBTHK appraised it as a work of the first-gen Tadayoshi. We made a phone call to confirm this information.
Hizenkoku is the province’s name in today’s Saga prefecture on Kyushu island. Jyunin means a resident. The first-gen Tadayoshi is considered one of the most renowned swordsmiths during the early 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 Tadayoshi. 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.
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.
*Please keep in mind that there are are a few black rust spots on the Mune (backbone of the blade) and a couple of partial black rust on the blade. We will be happy to have this blade polished to remove these black rust without any additional charge.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)：72.7 cm(28.6 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：1.3 cm (0.51 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 figures of two men wearing hats are depicted on the Kashira part. They seem to be carrying something by pulling a rope together. On the Fuchi part, you would find a tiny gold-colored animal; it is probably a Kaeru (蛙, frog). In Japanese, several expressions have the same pronunciation as “Kaeru.” For example; Fuku-Kaeru (福かえる, happiness will return), Okane-Kaeru (お金かえる, the money will come back), or Buji-Kaeru (無事かえる, someone will come back safely), etcetera. Based on these wordplays, the frog pattern has been treated as an auspicious motif. The third example: “Buji-Kaeru,” would match Samurai’s wish to return from the battlefields.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
This Menuki’s motif is Ise-Ebi (伊勢海老, spiny lobster). According to a theory, Japanese people already ate shrimp in the Heian period (794-1185). However, it was expensive for ordinary citizens, so only the nobility and high-class people could enjoy it. People started using shrimp as a good-omen pattern and appreciated designing it for their family crests in the Muromachi period (1336-1573).
In the Samurai’s society, as shrimp is covered with a hard shell, it was thought that a shrimp represents the figure of a brave Samurai who wears the armor. It has the meaning that wishes the fate of a Samurai will last for a long time. Shrimp has been likened to an older adult because of its long feelers. Also, shrimps actively jump even though they are bowed. That is the reason why the shrimp pattern is treated as a symbol of perpetual youth and longevity. This animal shed its molt several times to grow up; therefore, some people have considered it is a symbol of success in life. Additionally, the red color of Ise-Ebi’s body was treated as a color that would exorcise evil spirits. Based on these multiple good meanings, it is understandable that the shrimp motif was incorporated into sword mountings.
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.
Oval-shaped Tsuba that has Kozuka and Kougai holes. You would find Japanese apricot blossoms are depicted on both sides. Some are in bloom, and others are still buds. Golden and silvery paints are applied to flowers, and these colorings make this Tsuba’s ornamental look. Japanese apricot blossoms begin to bloom in winter that snow still covers its tree; therefore, people have thought this flower told the arrival of spring. Same as cherry blossom, it has been appreciated for a long time in Japan. People cherish its adorable petal shape and scent, gracefully branched tree, and compose many poems. It symbolizes the power of perseverance and vitality as it comes out in the cold season.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 1016674)
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 Dec 3rd in the 3rd year of Reiwa (2021). 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 : Nigata 12911
The Board of Education in Nigata 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 400 Japanese swords for the past three years (～2022) 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 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, Canada, Mexico, UK, 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 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.
* If you live in Australia and like to purchase an authentic Japanese sword, please click here to know the detail.
* If you live in the UK 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.
【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.
【How To Contact Us】
Please contact us through email, Facebook Messenger or Live Chat if you have any questions. You can find each icon on the right side of the website. Please click one of them to reach us. We will reply to you within 1-2 business days.
【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.