Antique Japanese Sword Tanto attributed to Masakatsu with NBTHK Hozon Certificate
This Tanto is attributed to Mito Masakatsu (水戸正勝). He is also known as Katsumura Masakatsu. He started to study sword-forging techniques from Mito Tokukatsu when Masakatsu was just ten years old in 1849. They were originally from Mito province (Today’s Ibaraki prefecture). And, Tokukatsu and Masakatsu moved to Edo city when Masakatsu was 16 years old. And, Masakatsu learned superb craftsmanship from Hosokawa Masayoshi, Koyama Munetsugu, and Ishido Korekazu, who were renowned swordsmiths at the end of the Edo period.
Masakatsu and his original master Tokukatsu had a close relationship throughout their career. And it is said that Masakatsu did a Daisaku for Tokukatsu at the end of Tokukatsu’s career. Daisaku is a regular act where an apprentice or a child of the swordsmith signs his master’s name with his master’s permission or forges a blade on behalf of the master. That means that his master highly acknowledged Kunitomo’s craftsmanship.
In the second year of the Meiji era (1869), Masakatsu moved back to Mito domain and became a Hanko for Mito domain. Hanko is a swordsmith who exclusively forged swords for a specific clan.
The structure of this Tanto is worth mentioning. While one side is made as Hirazukuri and the other side has Shinogi Zukuri. This difference makes this Tanto more interesting to appreciate.
This blade is appraised as a Hozon Token(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 with artistic value.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)：19.6 cm( 7.74 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：0 cm (0 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.
Horimono: Horimono is an inscription or sculpture on Japanese swords.
Koshirae: Koshirae is the mounting of the Japanese sword. There are several parts that consist of Koshirae such as Saya(Scabbard), Tsuka(Handle), Kozuka.
Fuchi-Kashira：A pair of matching sword fittings that cover the upper and bottom parts of its sword hilt.
This Koshirae’s Kashira and the Kojiri (鐺, a metal fitting that protects the tip of a scabbard) have the same design: the wave pattern. Dynamic movements of waves are meticulously carved on silvery metal fittings. As waves’ movements continue endlessly, the wave pattern represents eternity, immortality, longevity, birth, etcetera. Also, since tides repeatedly change the shape and terrain of rocks, some people hoped for a strong will by using this motif. People used this pattern wishing for an indomitable spirit to rechallenge time and time without giving up. The wave pattern is also incorporated into the decoration of other parts described later, and it could be said that it is one of the themes that leads to the overall appearance of this Koshirae.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
This Koshirae’s Menukis have small round shapes and are colored with golden paint. Same as the Fuchi Kashira and Kojiri, the wave pattern is designed on one side of the Menuki. On the other hand, you would find two birds are engraved on another Menuki. This Menuki’s design is completed by combining these two patterns (waves and bird patterns); the Nami Chidori (波千鳥). The Nami Chidori pattern represents happy marriage and family safety. In Japan, people have treated it as a good omen design since the Nara period (648-781). Nami (波) means waves, and Chidori (千鳥) means plovers in Japanese. Waves are compared to the world, meaning it describes the determination: overcoming difficulties with a partner even if there are small or big waves (difficulties/ troubles). Also, the plover pattern is used as a prayer for victory or achieving a goal.
Habaki：Habaki is the equipment to make the blade not touch its scabbard inside.It prevents the blade from getting rusty and chipped.
Kougai：Kougai is the equipment for Samurai to arrange or fix his hair style.
This item is an antique Kougai (笄), which was used to arrange or fix the hairstyle of Samurai. Horizontal stripes are engraved on this Kougai to enhance its decorativeness. The Kougai is usually stored in the Kougai Hitsu (笄櫃). The Kozuka (小柄) is often stored on the other side of the scabbard. This Kougai is separated into two parts; this type of Kougai is categorized as the Wari Kougai (割笄). This separated type was invented in the Edo period and became popular as decorative metal fittings. There is no proof but a theory says some people used the Wari Kougai as chopsticks.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
The entire surface of this scabbard is decorated with a geometric pattern, and we believe this is a kind of cloud design. Clouds bring rain and snow, and their movements significantly affect the day’s weather. Due to its supernatural power, a theory says that gods, spirits, and dragons dwell in the clouds. Since the cloud pattern has been associated with magical power, people thought it an omen of lucky things. This idea might have inspired this Saya Nuri (鞘塗, scabbard painting).
Authentication Paper：NBTHK Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 330685 )
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 Jun. 30th in the 4th year of Heisei (1992). They appraised it as Hozon Touken, the blade worth preserving for Japanese society. The purchaser will receive these original certificates as well. We can also translate what is written into English and make a PDF file for your record if you request.
Registration Number : Shimane 3513
The Board of Education in Shimane 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 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, 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 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.
【How To Contact Us】
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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.