Antique Japanese Sword Tanto Signed by Nanki Shigekuni with NBTHK Tokubetsu Kicho Certificate
This blade was signed by Nanki Shigekuni (南紀重国). Based on the characteristics of the blade, we believe it was created by the first-gen Shigekuni, one of the most famous swordsmiths, being active from 1600-1624. Nanki is the name of the province located in today’s Wakayama prefecture. It is often the case with swordsmiths that they engraved where they lived when they forged blades. The maker’s name, Shigekuni, lasted 11 generations. Their active period was from the early Edo period(1615-) to the late Edo period(-1868).
The first-gen Shigekuni was originally from Yamato province (today’s Nara prefecture) and belonged to Monju school, whose headquarters was Tegai school, one of the most prestigious schools in the region. His birthname was Kurosaburo. During the Keicho era (1596-1614), he forged blades for Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun supreme military leader of the Edo government in Suruga province (today’s Shizuoka prefecture), along with other famous sword makers, such as Yasutsugu. After Iyasu Tokugawa passed away, in the second year of the Genna era (1616), Shigekuni was relocated to Kishu province (Wakayama prefecture) to serve Tokugawa Yorinobu, the 10th son of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Yorinobu built a strong foundation in this area and established Kishu Tokugawa clan,a direct lineage from the Tokugawa clan, who ruled the Edo government. Kishu Tokugawa clan is known as GOSANKE, which is eligible to take over Shogun’s position. Since the early Edo period, the generations of Shigekuni served the Tokugawa clan in Kishu province.
The first-gen Shiekuni is also known for forging very sharp swords, which made him and his work classified as Ryo Wazamono Toko( 良業物刀工). Wazamono is a classification of Japanese swords and swordsmiths used in Japan to identify historic blades of exceptional quality in the book written by Kaiho Kenjaku ( 懐宝剣尺 ) in 1797. He is categorized as a top-tier sword maker in terms of fame and craftsmanship. He created swords with either the Yamato or Soshu tradition.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)：28.9 cm ( 11.4 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：0.30 cm (0.12 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), Kozuka.
The Aoi Mon (葵紋, the family crest of Tokugawa) is designed on the Menuki and the Habaki. It is a plant pattern in which each stem branches and has characteristic heart-shaped leaves.
Today, the Aoi-Domoe / Mitsuba-Aoi-no Mon (葵巴/三つ葉葵の紋 ) is known as the family crest of Tokugawa (徳川) Shogunate family led by Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川 家康, 1543-1616), a famous military commander of the Warring States period (1467-1615). This plant pattern has also been used for the crest of the Kamo (加茂) shrine in Kyoto prefecture. As mentioned above, the famous Shogunate family, the Tokugawa family, had their family crest with three leaves of Aoi due to their relationship with the Kamo shrine. Since its leaves have a habit of always facing the sun, and the word “Aoi” is taken as “Aogu (仰ぐ, looking up)” for the sun, people thought the Aoi pattern would bring good fortune. After the decline of the Toyotomi (豊臣) family, as the authority of the Tokugawa family increased, the Aoi crest itself came to be treated as a special family crest. It is said that not only the three-leaved Aoi but the Aoi family crest itself was regarded as an extra special family crest. General uses were discouraged, and only a few vassals were allowed to use it back then.
Fuchi-Kashira：A pair of matching sword fittings that cover the upper and bottom parts of its sword hilt.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
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.
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. Although the blade part has rusted due to aging, we could see its maker’s Mei (銘, engraved inscription).
The surface of this Kozuka is decorated with the Nanako-Ji (魚子地) technique. This process makes a uniform minimal protrusions pattern by hitting the Nanako-Ji Tagane (魚子地鏨, a chisel for this technique) on a metal surface. This decorative technique is often seen on sword mountings. We believe the Kiku (菊, chrysanthemum) flowers are designed on this Kozuka. While it has partially faded, golden coloring is applied to these flowers and leaves, making this Kozuka’s ornamental look. Chrysanthemums were used as a medicine for obtaining a long life in the continent, and it was brought to Japan with this thought in the Nara period (648-781). The chrysanthemum symbolizes autumn, and people have greatly appreciated it since ancient times. Since its petals form radially, the chrysanthemum has been likened to the sun. That is why this flower pattern is treated as the symbol of perpetual youth and longevity or good health. This plant motif has also been popular with Japanese people. For example, the Kiku no Gomon (菊の御紋) is a kind of chrysanthemum pattern, and it has been used as the crest of the Emperor and the royal family in Japan, so it is well-known as a noble pattern. Although it does not seem to have been designed as a family crest in this Kozuka, the fact that this plant pattern was designed on belongings from the Samurai era shows that it has been familiar to many Japanese people for a long time.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK Tokubetsu Kicho Certificate for the blade
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 October 12th in the 49th year of Showa (1974). They appraised it as a Tokubetsu Kiho Touken, an old form of the certificate. The purchaser will receive the 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 : Niigata 3527
The Board of Education in Niigata 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 700 Japanese swords for the past few years (～2024) 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 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.
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.