Antique Japanese Sword Wakizashi Attributed to Masanobu with NBTHK Tokubestsu Hozon Certificate
This blade is attributed to Mihara Masanobu (三原正信), who was especially active during the late Nanboku cho era (1381-1390). It is said that Masanobu was the son of Mihara Masaie and belonged to Mihara school in Bingo province.
According to recent studies, it is general knowledge that Mihara school was founded by Kokubunji Sukekuni (国分寺助国) in the late Kamakura period (Late13th century-Early 14th century). Two of the most prominent figures in this school are Mihara Masaie (三原正家) and his son, Masahiro (正広).
Mihara school is divided into three categories in Japanese sword terminology depending on the period. When the blade is older than the Nanbokucho era(the 1300s), it is called *Ko-Mihara (Old Mihara). And it is called Mihara for those forged in the early-Mid Muromachi period. Finally, Sue-Mihara(Late Mihara) is used for the late Muromachi period. And, Masanobu is classified as a Ko-Mihara swordsmith.
In Bingo province, many lands were owned by politically powerful temples of the Yamato region (today’s Nara prefecture) from ancient times. And many Samurai formed military groups to protect those lands, being hired by temples. And quite a few swordsmiths moved from the Yamato region to the Bingo region to forge blades for those Samurai.
It is said that the swordsmiths in Yamato region strongly influenced how swords were forged in the Bingo province because of the history above. The blades forged by Mihara school had distinctive characteristics of Yamato DEN, one of the five Japanese sword traditions (Gokaden).
The swordsmiths in the Bingo province, including Mihara school, produced many swords during the late Kamakura period-Muromachi period due to the high demand for weapons.
Bingo is located near the Chugoku Mountains, where iron sands, one of the essential materials for making Japanese swords, were abundant. This geological location contributed to the Mihara swordsmiths forging high-quality refined blades. We presume Bingo was quite active in sword-forging from ancient times.
The swords forged in Yamato DEN tradition are famous for their beautiful Jigane, steel surface, and straight tempering line(Suguha). This blade has a beautiful Jigane with a Suguha tempering line, which shows an outstanding characteristic of the Yamato DEN sword.
While the registration paper says this blade is categorized as a Katana, the NBTHK authentication paper says it is a Wakizashi. Generally speaking, it is considered a Katana when the edge is more than 2 Shaku (1 Shaku is approx. 30.3 cm). This blade is 0.4 cm shorter than the length of Katana. That means its cutting-edge size is very close to that of Katana.
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)： 60.2 cm ( 23.7 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：1.2 cm ( 0.47 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.
The Matsu (松, pine tree) and the Take (竹, bamboo) are engraved on the Kashira part. And the Ume (梅, Japanese apricot blossom) is designed on the Fuchi part. The surface of this Fuchi Kashira is decorated with the Nanako-Ji (魚子地) technique. The combination of these three plants is called the Shou-Chiku-Bai (松竹梅) in Japanese. Each of them has been treated as an auspicious pattern. There are several theories its meaning as follows; longevity, power of perseverance, vitality, etcetera. We could imagine these good omen motifs were favored by then people.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
It is challenging to judge this Menuki’s motif by seeing its shape from the gaps of the Tsukamaki thread. We guess it might be a kind of plant because the Fuchi Kashira and Menuki are also related to the plant design. It could be seen as a kind of animal or something different. The design might have different opinions depending on the viewer; however, since the object itself feels old from the condition of the surface, we think this Menuki has passed a long history.
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. Several plants are engraved, and it seems the golden paint was initially applied to some flowers and leaves. This Tsuba depicts a scenery of an autumn field. One of these flowers is the chrysanthemum. A long time ago, the chrysanthemum was used as a medicine for obtaining a long life, and it was brought to Japan from the continent with this thought in the Nara period (648-781). Chrysanthemum symbolizes fall, and people have appreciated it very much since ancient times. As its petals form radially, the chrysanthemum has been likened to the sun.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate for the blade (No.1015443)
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 May 24th 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 : Chiba 055067
The Board of Education in Chiba 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.
* 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.
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