Antique Japanese Sword Tanto Signed by Seki Kanenori with Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Kanenori (兼乗), who was active during the Tenmon era (1532-1555: The end of the Muromachi period). He resided in Seki city, located in Mino province (Today’s Gifu prefecture). In Mino province, Seki city was the most active one in sword-forging. By inspecting this Tanto, we believe he must have mastered superb level of craftsmanship.
The swordsmiths who resided in Mino province developed particular sword-forging tradition called MINO-DEN. Its characteristic is the TOGARI(Pointed shapes protruding from the Hamon ) in a classic straight line and random temper line with some white Utsuri. MINO-DEN had its origin from YAMATO-DEN in the late KAMAKURA period(1280-1330). It flourished in the MUROMACHI period(1333-1573) and continued until the EDO period(1603-1868).
MINO-DEN especially prospered during Sengoku Jidai(Warring State period) due to the high demand for weapons. And the location of Mino province beat others. Akechi Mitsuhide controlled Mino province, and Nobunaga Oda ruled Owari province, and Tokugawa Ieyasu was the lord of Suruga (Neighboring areas). There was high demand from those powerful feudal lords and their retainers. Furthermore, so many wars occurred between the Kanto region and the Kyoto area. Mino was located in the middle, making feudal lords feel convenient to order swords from MINO-DEN. The blades forged in MINO provinces also had the reputation of its practical design and sharpness. Many feudal lords demanded swords forged in the Mino province. Since this Tanto was made in the middle of the warring sate period, it is possible that it was originally ordered by a Samurai who participated in warfare. It has beautiful Hi (groove) on both sides.
What is Tanto?
It was initially used as a supplemental weapon for Samurai on horseback, who used a pole weapon or long sword in the Kamaura-Muromachi period. Samurai aimed at an unprotected area of his enemy’s armor with Tanto while having to fight with close distance.
TANTO was named accordingly, depending on how you carry it, such as HUTOKORO-GATANA (懐刀; Stomach-Sword) or KOSHI-GATANA(腰刀; Waist-Sword) or elsewise. TANTO was also a gift for a bride from her family in a traditional Japanese wedding, as it is believed that TANTO would be divine protection from evil power.
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 and high quality with artistic value.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)： 29.0 cm (11.4 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 0.3 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.
Fuchi-Kashira：A pair of matching sword fittings that cover the upper and bottom parts of its sword hilt.
The surface of the Fuchi part 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.
Please look at the side of the Kashira part, there is a Mei (銘, engraved inscription), and it is written as follows: 石黒 盛常 (Ishiguro Moritsune). The last letter is a Kaoh (花押, his stylized signature). Please note that there is no guarantee of authenticity of this inscription. However, we would like to propose one possibility to you. Ishiguro Masatune (石黒 政常, 1746/1760-1828) was a metalworker for sword mountings who did well in the late Edo period. He was known as a master craftsman of the Yokoya (横谷) school, and he became the founder of the Ishiguro (石黒) school. According to a theory, the second-generation Masatsune has engraved his inscription as Moritsune (盛常).
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
The same as the Fuchi Kashira, this Menuki’s motif is also a bird. Partially applied gold coloring adds glamor to this work. Seeing from the gaps of the Tsukamaki thread, we estimate this bird is a Uzura (鶉, quail). Quails come to Japan in the autumn and live in groups on rice fields. It was supposed to represent an autumn scene, and people have appreciated this bird for a long time. Therefore, the combination of quails and autumn plants was cherished. A theory says that Samurai families and Daimyos (大名, a Japanese feudal lord) started keeping quails in the Muromachi period (1336-1573). People loved its charming cry, and it could be heard as “Go Kiccho (御吉兆, a sign of good things).” So that they regarded the quail as an auspicious bird and used it before battles to keep the gods on their side; in the Edo period, raising quails became general among ordinary people. This history shows how this bird was familiar to Japanese people, including Samurai.
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 made from iron. The Gosa-no Kiri (五三の桐) crests and Karakusa (唐草, arabesque) pattern decorates the edge of this Tsuba. Gold coloration is used effectively here as well. The Gosan-no Kiri design is a popular pattern that the Kiri (桐, paulownia) motif is used. This pattern was once used by the imperial family and people in authority back then. Today, it is permitted to use by ordinary households and is appreciated as their family crests. According to a tradition, the Houou (鳳凰, Fenghuang, a kind of sacred beast) rests its wings at the paulownia tree; therefore, it has come to be regarded as a sacred plant. In this way, this plant motif has been familiar to people since ancient times. And 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 up without interruption, people regarded this design as a symbol of prosperity and longevity.
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, and a boat is designed on it. Since the sea surrounds Japan, Japan has long been associated with ships through fishing and other activities. For that reason, boat patterns are familiar, and there are a variety of types.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 3022375)
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 Dec 2nd in the first year of Reiwa (2019). They appraised it as Tokubetsu Hozon Touken, the blade 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 : Tottori 18872
The Board of Education in Tottori 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.
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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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