Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Bizen Osafune Morisuke with NBTHK JUYO TOKEN Certificate
This blade was signed by Bizen Osafune Morisuke (備前長船守助). According to NBTHK, which appraised it as a JUYO TOKEN, it was made during the Eitoku era (Late Nanbokucho era: 1381-1384). Bizen is the province’s name in today’s Okayama prefecture. And, Osafune is one of the most prestigious schools in the region.
The swordsmith Morisuke lasted five generations; The first-gen was active during the Rekio era (1338-1342), The second-gen; Enbun (1356-1361), The third-gen: Eitoku (1381-1384), the 4th-gen; O-Ei era (1394-1428) and the 4th-gen: Bun-An (1444-1449). Based on the appraisal, we believe this blade was signed by the third-gen Morisuke.
Morisuke is categorized as a Kozori swordsmith. Kozori is a group of swordsmiths who belonged to Osafune school in Bizen during the Nanbokucho Period but wasn’t part of major branches such as Kanemitsu school. The first-gen Morisuke is said to have been a descendant of Hatakeda school in Bizen province. Some of Morisuke’s works resemble Kanemitsu school, the major school in Bizen province. Other famous swordsmiths seen as Kozori are Morimitsu, Yasumitsu, and Norimitsu.
The History of Bizen Osafune School
It is said that Osafune school was founded by Mitsutada (光忠), who was active during the mid-Kamakura period. Bizen Osafune school was the biggest one of all other schools in Bizen province, and they received many orders from feudal lords or renowned Samurai. They were called Osafunemono and beloved by Samurai warriors.
Among the swordsmiths who belonged to this school, Nagamitsu, Sanenaga, and Kagemitsu are known as Osafune Sansaku, the three renowned Osafune swordsmiths. There are also four other prominent swordsmiths who were from Bizen Osafune school. They are called Osafune Shiten-no, the four masters of Osafune school. Their names are Nagamitsu, Kanemitsu, Nagayoshi, and Motoshige.
BIZEN is located near the Chugoku Mountains, where iron sands, one of the essential materials for making Japanese swords, were abundant. Furthermore, BIZEN swordsmiths had close access to Yoshi River, where they could find water and charcoal. This geological location contributed to the swordsmiths forging high-quality refined blades. We presume BIZEN was quite active in sword-forging from ancient times. It is said that BIZEN DEN was created by groups of swordsmiths there during the late Heian era (Late 12th century ). These ancient swordsmiths in Bizen province are called Ko-Bizen (Old Bizen) swordsmiths. By inheriting the sword forging techniques from Ko-Bizen swordsmiths, the Bizen Osafune school flourished from the mid-Kamakura period.
This blade doesn’t look long now, but the JUYO certificate mentions that it was shortened (磨り上げ). It was a common act among the owners of Japanese swords during the Samurai period to have their blades shortened, depending on the regulation imposed by the government or their height. Even though it was shortened, the signature of this blade remains, which is quite rare for the blade forged during the Nanbokucho period.
Based on which side the signature is located and the authentication paper, this blade was created as a Tachi sword. Tachi was mainly used by an armored Samurai with one hand on horseback from the Heian period (794-1185 A.D.) until the early Muromachi period. TACHI was suspended loosely on the left waist with its edge facing the ground so that you could draw it faster to cut down soldiers on the ground. It is stored in a Katana style Koshirae now.
This blade is appraised as a JUYO TOKEN(重要刀剣) 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, exceptionally well preserved and of high quality with artistic value. JUYO is one rank higher than Tokubetsu Hozon. To be eligible for a Juyo Token, it needs to be appraised as a Tokubetsu Hozon Token first. It is extremely rare for an antique Japanese sword to be appraised as JUYO TOKEN, and it is highly desirable among Japanese sword collectors.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)：71.75 cm (28.2 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 1.55 cm ( 0.61 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. According to the certificate, this blade was heavily shortened in the past (Osuriage: 大磨り上げ).
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 motif of this Fuchi Kashira is probably the Nanten (南天, nandina). Its fruits are colored with golden paint. People have regarded the Nanten as an auspicious plant since ancient times. Its name Nanten has the same pronunciation as the word Nanten (難転); Nan-ga Tenjiru (難が転じる). It means “change misfortune to good fortune.” Based on this wordplay, it is said many Japanese people grew this plant believing it would protect them from fire or evil spirits in the Edo period. The former owner of this Katana might have wished some of its good luck would come to him.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
It is challenging to judge what the motif is of this Menuki. Seeing from the gaps of the Tsukamaki thread, we think a kind of plant is designed. It seems golden paint was initially applied to fruit parts. Although most coloring was already faded due to aging, we could imagine its original elegant figure.
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.
This circle-shaped Tsuba is made from iron. Both sides have almost the same design. It seems golden lines depict ears of rice. Since ancient times, rice has been worshiped as an essential food and considered a symbol of wealth. In addition, it has been treated like a treasure. Some people believe gods dwell in it. Therefore, the Inaho pattern has often been designed as a crest of the Inari (稲荷) shrine, which enshrines the Inari god, who is regarded as the god of grain and agriculture. It is just guessing, but one of the former owners of this Katana might have worshipped the Inari god. Also, this plant motif is seen in family crests. It is one of the familiar designs for Japanese people. We imagine that this design might have had chosen in the hope of a plentiful harvest and a prosperous life.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
This Saya is partially coated with stingray skin and most of the area are covered by leather, which adds gorgeous look to this Saya.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK JUYO TOKEN Certificate for the blade (No. 11697)
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 Oct 9th in the 15th year of Heisei (2003). They appraised it as JUYO TOKEN, the blade exceptionally 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 : Aichi 922
The Board of Education in Aichi 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.
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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, 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.
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【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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