Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Zushu Naotsugu with NBTHK Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Zushu Naotsugu (豆州直次) in the first year of the Keio era (1865). Zushu us another name for Izu town located in today’s Shizuoka prefecture. There was also a record of him forging blades in Edo (Today’s Tokyo).
The Background History
Japan enjoyed a relatively peaceful time from the early Edo period to the mid-Edo period(the 1600s-1760s) because of the stable economy and the powerful government run by Tokugawa Shogun. Samurai didn’t have many opportunities to utilize his Katana sword in public or on battlefields during this time. Thus, they carried their swords more as a symbol of their social status. The demand for weapons decreased accordingly compared to the previous Warring state period called Sengoku Jidai (1467-1600).
However, toward the end of the Edo period(1764-1876), the Japanese sword’s role changed dramatically. With the poverty spreading in Japan, there were so many riots initiated by the civilians. Japanese sword started to play an essential role in maintaining public safety.
Pressure from foreign countries to open Japanese borders also forced Samurai to order strong-looking swords to survive this tumultuous time. We believe many swordsmiths, including Naotsugu, made great efforts to forged high-quality, practical blades for their masters to prepare for battles.
There was a civil war between Tokugawa’s military government and the new Meiji government at the end of the Edo period. That means the original owner of this Katana might have seen the moment when Samurai’s life changed forever. This blade has a strong looking and must have been practical to use in that demanding time.
This blade is appraised as a Hozon Touken (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, well preserved and high quality with artistic value.
Cutting Edge Length (Nagasa): 70.8 cm ( 27.5 inches)
Curvature (Sori): 1.0 cm (0.39 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 surface of this Fuchi Kashira is uneven, and there are metal rusts due to aging. You would find several golden-colored dots here and there; they seem to be stars shining in the night sky. This Fuchi Kashira has an elegant design that is not at all extravagant but has a gorgeousness that does not compromise its practicality.
Tsuka and Menuki: Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
You would find the figure of a dog-like animal on each side of the handle. Due to their appearances, we believe the Karajishi (唐獅子) is the motif of this Menuki. Some of the surface color has currently faded due to aging and friction. However, we could assume that the brown color of the copper initially stood out well.
The Shishi (獅子) means a lion in Japanese, and the Karajishi is a lion brought from the continent to Japan in the Toh period (唐, Tang dynasty, 618-907). The Karajishi typically has curly hair for its head, neck, body, and tail. A simplified pattern of this curly hair is carved. In Buddhism, the Karajishi is regarded as a symbol of wisdom, and Monju Bosatu (文殊菩薩, Manjushri Bodhisattva) rides lions. According to a theory, the Karajishi is the origin of Komainu (狛犬, stone guardian dogs that exorcize evil spirits). It shows this beast motif has been familiar to 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.
The surface of this Tsuba has become quite worn due to aging, making it challenging to judge its original design. There are traces of monkey (or probably human) figures carved in semi three-dimensionally. In addition, if you focus on the center part of this Tsuba, you would find Japanese letters engraved; the Mei (銘, engraved inscription) shows its maker’s name.
Saya: Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
When you look at the end of this scabbard, you will find that the Kojiri (鐺, the metal fitting that protects the tip of a scabbard) is attached. We think the design colored with golden paint here is the Kiri Karakusa (桐唐草) pattern. As its name implies, this design is a combination of the Kiri (桐, pawlounia) and the Karakusa (唐草, arabesque). Although the paulownia flower part is omitted and the judgment is based on the shape of the leaves, we estimate these leaves show a paulownia pattern. The Kiri pattern generally comprises 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. According to tradition, the Houou rests its wings at the paulownia tree; therefore, it has come to be regarded as a holy plant. And now, this plant motif is connected with the Houou pattern we mentioned above. 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 without interruption, people regarded this design as a symbol of prosperity and longevity.
Authentication Paper: NBTHK Hozon Certificate for the blade (No.3031952)
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 25th in the 5th year of the Reiwa era (2023). They appraised it as Hozon Touken, the blade worth preserving for Japanese society. We are expecting to receive its authentication paper during early-mid November. 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: Tokyo 325889
The Board of Education in Tokyo 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.
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.”
【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 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 take 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.
【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 a 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.