Antique Japanese Sword Wakizashi Signed by Nobukuni Yoshimasa with NBTHK Tokubestsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Chikuzen Jyu Minamoto Nobukuni Yoshimasa (筑前住源信国吉政). Chikuzen, is the province’s name located in Fukuoka prefecture today. Jyu means living. Minamoto Nobukuni is the name of his school, and Yoshimasa is his maker’s name. Those who belonged to Nobukuni School in Chikuzen province were called Tsukushi Nobukuni, one of the most prospered sword forging schools in Kyushu island during the Edo period.
The maker’s name Yoshimasa lasted three generations, and we believe it was signed by the second generation. The second-gen Yoshimasa is also known as Nobukuni Heishiro (信国平四郎). He was born as the second son of Nobukuni Yoshisada (信国吉貞) in the fifth year of the Gen-Na era (1618). Yoshisada was the founder of Tsukushi Nobukuni school, and his older brother was the first-gen Yoshimasa. The second-gen Yoshimasa was especially active during the Kanbun-Enpo era (1661-1681: Early Edo Period). There is also a record of him forging a sword in the second year of the Jyokyo era (1685).
The Fondation of Nobukuni School
The Nobukuni school was initially founded by the first generation Nobukuni in Kyoto. The school stayed there for a few generations. However, the 4th generation Nobukuni SADAMITSU had to evacuate Kyoto city because the battle between the south emperor court and the north emperor court became severe. And as a result, Kyoto city was burnt(in the late 1300s). We called it the Nanbokucho war when the Japanese imperial court was separated into two.
Nobukuni SADAMITSU managed to escape and arrive at Usaha(Ohita prefecture)to serve the Ajimu clan. Nobukuni school prospered there from third to 11th generation. However, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of the three unifiers of Japan, destroyed the Ajimu clan during the late Azuchi Momoyama period (1582). And the 12th generation Nobukuni YOSHISADA moved to Chikuzen(Fukuoka prefecture), being invited by Kuroda Nagamasa, a famous feudal lord who served Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1602). It is said that the second-gen Yoshimasa also followed his father. Since then, Nobukuni school had been under the auspices of Kuroda clan for generations during the Edo period, and they exclusively forged for this clan.
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.
*Please keep in mind that there is a partial black rust on the blade. If you like to know the detailed condition, please feel free to contact us.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)： 49.4 cm ( 19.4 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：1.51 cm (0.59 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.
This Fuchi Kashira is decorated with a dignified dragon motif. Its silvery metal color and dragon’s golden eye add elegance and power to this work. The dragon’s face and body peek through the clouds, and its gaze seems to be staring at us. If you look at the end of the scabbard, you will find that the Kojiri (鐺, metal fitting that protects the tip of a scabbard) also has the same theme design. The tip of the dragon’s tail could be seen through the clouds.
Initially, the dragon is an imaginary creature found in ancient Chinese traditions or myths. Furthermore, it is regarded as a symbolic beast of auspicious signs. Its body is likened to nine animals: antlers are deer, the head is a camel, eyes are demons, the neck is a snake, the belly is the Mizuchi (蛟, a mythical animal in Japan that looks like a snake and has a horn and four legs), scales are fish, claws are falcons, palms are tigers, and ears are cows. It was thought that the dragon would reign at the top of all animals because of its odd-looking appearance.
If you focus on the side of the Fuchi part, you will see an engraved inscription. It is written as Yasutaka (安賢) and his Kaou (花押, his stylized signature). We cannot assert who he is, such as his living place or the age he was active. What we could say here is that he made this Fuchi Kashira.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
You would find two fish-shaped creatures are designed on each side of Menuki. One is gold, and another is black color. Based on their unique appearance, we believe it is probably the Shachihoko (しゃちほこ). The Shachihoko is a decoration used for the roofs of castle towers and watchtowers. The Shachi (鯱) is an imaginary creature, and it is said it has a dragon or tiger’s head and its body is a fish. Its tail bends toward the sky, and people associate its figure with the Hoko (鉾, an ancient form of Japanese long weapon). That is why this animal was named the Shachihoko. According to a theory, the Shachihoko would spit water out of its mouth when a building catches fire. Therefore, it has been put on the roof of many castles and temples in Japan. Since fire was a big worry for wooden structures, this Menuki’s maker might have prayed for safety by applying such a design.
Habaki：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. The theme of its design is a combination of the dragon and waves. As seen in the Fuchi Kashira, these combinations are often seen in sword mountings. We estimate the reason as follows. In Japan, there is a belief that worships the dragon as a water god. Clouds bring blessed rain and snow, and their movements significantly affect the day’s weather. Due to its supernatural power, a theory says that gods, spirits, and dragons dwell in the clouds. Needless to say, waves are water itself. Since rice cultivation has flourished in this country, water has been treated essential resource. Therefore, we imagine that people, including Samurai, incorporated these designs into tools they used to wish for plentiful harvests. It is probably not the only reason, but it could be one of the possibilities why many people favored this beast motif.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate for the blade (No.1018626)
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. 25th in the 4rd year of Reiwa (2022). 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 : Hokkaido 6264
The Board of Education in Hokkaido 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.
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.
“It was outstanding. Nothing short from what I would expect from Japanese people. Takaoki-san and Gin-san treated me to the best purchasing experience I’ve ever had. They were honorable, humble and dedicated to duty. I felt like a family member. I would highly recommend the Samurai Museam Shop to anyone looking to purchase an authentic antique Japanese sword with certification paper work.”
【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.
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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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