Antique Japanese Sword Wakizashi Signed by Fujiwara Kunihiro with NBTHK Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Hizen Jyu Fujiwara Kunihiro (肥前住藤原国広). Hizen is the province located in today’s Saga prefecture. Hizen Jyu means that he resided in this province when he created this blade. It was common for many swordsmiths to inscribe where they forged their swords as a part of their signature.
Kunihiro was especially active during the Kanei- Manji era (1624-1661-:Early Edo Period). Kunihiro’s birthname was Hashimoto Rokurozaemon. He was born as the first son of Hirosada, a renowned swordsmith in the same province. Hirosada was a younger brother of the first-gen Tadayoshi, one of the most famous swordsmiths during the early Edo period.
According to the book (Kaihou Kenjyaku) published by Yamada Asaemon in the late Edo period, a blade forged by Kunihiro was ranked as Wazamono (good sharpness). Asaemon was hired by the Edo government as an expert on Tameshigiri or testing cutting. And in this book, he judged how sharp Japanese swords forged by prestigious swordsmiths were.
The swordsmiths in the Hizen province worked under the auspices of the Nabeshima clan. They could produce beautiful blades with Konuka Hada, whose steel surface is very smooth. This Hada is one of the most well-known characteristics of the blades produced in Hizen province. The swordsmiths also used and mixed carbon steel made in western countries. Since Hizenkoku flourished through international trading, it had easy access to western carbon steel.
The first-gen Tadayoshi (His uncle)
The first-gen Tadayoshi was born and raised in the Saga domain. In 1596, under the domain’s order, he went to Kyoto to learn the sword-forging technique from Umetada Myojyu(埋忠明寿), one of the greatest swordsmiths in the early Edo period. He improved his craftsmanship and returned to the Saga domain two years later (1598). The first head of the Nabeshima clan, Nabeshima Katsushige, appreciated the work of the first-gen Tadayoshi very much. Then, Katsushige appointed him as his Okakaekaji, a swordsmith who exclusively forged swords for a specific domain or clan. And Tadayoshi started to stay near Saga castle, the Nabeshima clan’s headquarters. And he founded Hizen Tadayoshi school, which trained more than 100 swordsmiths during the Edo period. Kunihiro is one of them.
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)： 58.6 cm (23.0 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：1.8 cm(0.70 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 on purpose to prevent red rust while the tang is in its handle. And the discoloration of the tang was created over time, which 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.
This Fuchi Kashira is gracefully decorated with a combination of two plant patterns: the Kiri (桐, paulownia) and Karakusa (唐草) motifs. The Kiri pattern is generally composed of three standing straight inflorescences and three leaves. The number of flowers blooming at each inflorescence means the ranks of this design. As seen in this work, the Gosan-no-Kiri Monyou (五三の桐文様) is a popular design that the 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 holy plant.
The Karakusa pattern is a design 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. The Kiri crests are arranged in a well-balanced manner on the screen where the Karakusa pattern is spread, making this Fuchi Kashira a gorgeous work.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
Three consecutive circular patterns form the Menuki. The center one is the Gosan-no-Kiri, the same as the Fuchi Kashira. And others are the Kiku (菊, chrysanthemum) flowers. We think each design is used here as family crests.
A long time ago, the chrysanthemum was used as a medicine for obtaining a long life on the continent, and it was brought to Japan with this thought in the Nara period (648-781). Chrysanthemum symbolizes fall, and people have greatly appreciated it since ancient times. As 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. 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 that it is well-known as a noble pattern.
As mentioned above, the Kiri crest is also related to noble family lineages. Combining two family crests that symbolize authority, this Menuki has a prestigious appearance.
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.
Oval-shaped Tsuba that has a Kozuka hole. The figure of a Koi (鯉, domestic carp) advancing while being caught in a strong current is engraved.
According to an ancient foreign story, many fishes tried to climb the waterfall called the Ryumon (竜門, dragon gate) in the rapid stream of the Yellow River. As a result, only Koi could have climbed up and become a dragon and run through the sky. This is the reason why “Koi-no Taki Nobori” (鯉の滝昇り, domestic carp climbing waterfall) became a symbol of success in life. The Ryumon legend is associated with this story. This fish has been treated as the symbol of success in business and good health. By living confidently and making efforts, people hoped for their children to grow up to become magnificent people. Samurai families then might have used this fish motif wishing their sons to be promoted to high-ranked Samurai. The custom of decorating Koi-Nobori (鯉のぼり, domestic carp streamers) on Tango no Sekku (端午の節句, the Boy’s Festival) is said to have started in the middle of the Edo period. It is one of the traditional customs that has been passed down to the present day.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 385032)
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 Jan. 29th in the 22nd year of Heisei (2010). They appraised it as 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 : Kagoshima 36454
The Board of Education in Kagoshima 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.
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【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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