Antique Japanese Sword Tanto Signed by Munehiro with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Koyama Enju Taro Munehiro (小山延寿太郎宗広) in the second year of the Keio era (1866: The end of the Edo period). He was the first son of Yamato no Kami Masakatsu, the 9th head of the Dotanuki school, one of the most prestigious schools in Higo province (Today’s Kumamoto prefecture), during the Edo period. His birth name was Koyama Taro. He was especially active during the Tenpo-Keio era (1830-1868). That means this blade was forged at the end of his career when he mastered excellent craftsmanship.
Munehiro was an offspring of a member of Enju school. He also lived in Edo city, invited by Numata Arimune, a chief vassal of Hosokawa clan, the head of Kumamoto domain. Munehiro also learned sword-forging techniques from Suishinshi Masahide, one of the most famous swordsmiths at the end of the Edo period in Edo city. This fact indicates that Munehiro was a recognized swordsmith in the domain.
Enju School and Its Founder (Enju Kunimura)
Enju(延寿) is the prestigious school name that especially flourished during the late Kamakura period-Nanbokucho period(Early-Late 14th century). Enju school was founded by Kunimura(国村), who is said to have been the grandson of Rai Kuniyuki, one of the most famous swordsmiths from Yamashiro province(Today’s Kyoto prefecture).
Kunimura and his apprentices moved from Kyoto to Higo province(Today’s Kumamoto prefecture on Kyushu island) after being invited by the Kikuchi clan, who had an influential power in that region. It is said that the 10th head of the Kikuchi clan, Kikuchi Takefusa(菊池武房), had to find skilled swordsmiths who could forge strong swords to combat the Mongolian army. Back then, Japan was targeted by the Mongolian emperor, and Kyushu island was where the battle occurred twice(1274 and 1281). Kikuchi Takefusa brought Kunimura and his apprentices from Kyoto to prepare for the second attack from the Mongols. Since then, Kunimura and his sons served as Okakaekaji for this clan, exclusively forging swords for the Kikuchi clan, which ruled the Higo province back then. All the swordsmiths from the Enju school used the letter “国” (Kuni) for their maker’s name, such as Kadokuni.
The descendant of this school founded the famous sword school named Dotanuki(同田貫) from the Eiroku era (1558-1570: Late Muromachi period). And there are descendants of the Enju school’s swordsmiths throughout the Edo period. That means Enjyu school has over 600 years of its history. Munehiro is one of the most prominent figures who belonged to Dotanuki school at the end of the Edo period.
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.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)：25.5 cm (10.0 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 0.1 cm (0.03 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.
A type of Karakusa (唐草, arabesque) pattern is engraved on this Fuchi Kashira. The same design is seen on the metal fitting that is put at the end of the scabbard. The combination of copper’s brownish color and this design makes an elegant look to this work.
The Karakusa design is a pattern in which stems and leaves of vines 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. Vine is called Tsuru (蔓) in Japanese and has another pronunciation; “Man.” There is a word 万 (it is also read Man), which means ten thousand. In the Karakusa pattern, leaves and vines are connected like Obi (帯, belt). The word “帯” can also be read as “Tai.” Due to its pronunciation, the term “代 (Tai)” is associated. From this word-association game, an idiom 万代 is associated, and it means a thousand generations. In other words, we could imagine that people used this design wishing prosperity and longevity for their clans for a long time. This idea might have inspired this Fuchi Kashira’s design.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
While we cannot see the entire shape, we think the motif of this Menuki is the Kara-Jishi (唐獅子) due to its characteristic curly hair. The golden paint is applied to its eye. The Shishi (獅子) means a lion in Japanese, and the Kara-Jishi is a lion brought from the continent to Japan in the Toh period (唐, Tang dynasty, 618-907). The Kara-Jishi typically has curly hair for its head, neck, body, and tail, as you see in this work. 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 Kara-Jishi is the origin of Komainu (狛犬, stone guardian dogs that exorcize evil spirits). It shows that 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.
Yotsu-Mokkou-shaped Tsuba that has a Kozuka hole. Its edge is framed with a thin metal plate. There are minor dents on this part; it shows this structure has protected the Tsuba from damage. Also, it tells us its long history.
The surface of this Tsuba has a stone-like texture. Although it is partly worn down due to aging, we could see its design when this Tsuba is loaded with the handle. We hope you would enjoy these points as antique textures.
Kozuka：Kozuka is a small knife stored in Kozuka Hitsu(groove of the sheath of the Japanese sword).
A Kogatana (小刀, small knife) is stored in the Kozuka. This Kozuka has a simple look. Both Kogatana and Kozuka have a plain design. As the color of the Kozuka is the same as other metal fittings, such as the Fuchi Kashira and Kojiri, it matches well when stored in the Kozuka Bitsu (a place where a Kozuka is put into).
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
This scabbard is colored with black and vermilion lacquers. It has a black lacquer base and a vermillion lacquer linear pattern that wraps around the scabbard in a spiral. Thanks to this coloring, this scabbard has a gorgeous and eye-catching appearance. It enhances the overall decorativeness of the Koshirae.
A Kojiri (鐺) is the end of a scabbard. This part is often covered with a metal fitting, as seen in this picture. You will realize that this Kojiri is made of the same material and has the same design as the Fuchi Kashira. It makes the unity for the entire appearance of the Koshirae.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 1016084)
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 Aug. 27th 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 : Oita 23759
The Board of Education in Oita 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, 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.
* 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 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.