Antique Japanese Sword Wakizashi Signed by Nobukuni Yoshisada with Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Nobukuni Minamoto Yoshisada (信国源吉貞). He is also known as 信国助左衛門吉貞 (Nobukuni Sukezaemon Yoshisada) and was active in sword-forging during the late Azuchi Momoyama-the early Edo Period (Late 16th-Early 17th century ) in Chikuzen province.
Chikuzen is the name of the province located in Fukuoka prefecture today. Nobukuni is the name of his school, and Yoshisada 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 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(the late 1300’s). 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). 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.
It is said that the swordsmith name Yoshisada lasted two generations, and we believe the first generation forged this blade. This Yoshisada is the one that moved from Usaha to Chikuzen to found Chikuzen Nobukuni School. His first son Yoshimasa and second son Yoshitsugu also exclusively forged swords for the Kuroda clan.
Tachi Koshirae ＆ Wakizashi blade
This blade is stored in Tachi(太刀) Koshirae. Tachi was mainly used by an armored Samurai with one hand on horseback from the Heian period (794-1185 A.D.) until the early Muromachi period. TACHI was suspended loosely on the left waist with its edge facing the ground so that you could draw it faster to cut down soldiers on the ground.
Because of its gorgeous looking, having a Tachi-style sword mounting became a social status among Samurai. You can see many gold family emblem design on the scabbard, which makes the whole appearance of the sword mounting beautiful.
We assume this blade might have been made for the Genpuku ceremony for a high-class Samurai’s child. Genpuku ceremony is a special event when a child of a Samurai becomes 12 or 13 years old. He was treated as an adult at this age, and his hairstyle also had to change to a Chonmage hairstyle. It is often the case that the father presents a special wakizashi to his son. We suppose this blade was 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)：53.5 cm( 21.0 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 1.6 cm ( 0.63 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’s surface is decorated with the Nanako-Ji (魚子地) technique. The Nanako-Ji Tagane (魚子地鏨, chisel used for this technique) makes delicate fish egg-shaped protrusions by hitting a surface. The golden paint is applied to this Fuchi Kashira’s edge and marks. You would find circle-shaped symbols; we think it is designed as a family crest. This motif is probably the Sagari-Fuji (下り藤). It is a type of the Fuji (藤, wisteria) pattern. As wisterias have strong fertility and grow being entwined with other trees, people regarded this flower as a symbol of longevity and prosperity for future generations. Also, its Japanese name Fuji (藤) is likened to another word Fushi, which is written as “不死,” which means immortality. According to a theory, that is why the Fujiwara (藤原) family, who reached the height of glory in the Heian period (794-1185), used this motif for their family name and family crest.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
Same as the Fuchi Kashira, the Sagari-Fuji pattern is designed for this Menuki. It is said this flower motif has most commonly been used. The Fujiwara clan had spread from the Kuge (公家, a court noble) Fujiwara family and to the local Buke (武家, Samurai family) Fujiwara family. And it mainly was Buke Fujiwara families who used the Fuji pattern for their family crests. Additionally, it is said that the influence of the Fujiwara family was influential even in rural areas, and many clans incorporated the Fuji design into their family crests in order to take advantage of the Fujiwara clan’s prestige. Therefore, this plant motif does not necessarily prove Fujiwara’s lineage. However, the theory mentioned above that the Fuji crest was the most used family crest is persuasive because of this background.
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.
This Tsuba has a symmetrical design. There are heart mark-shaped holes at four edges. It is the Inome (猪の目, boar’s eye) pattern. It has been used since ancient times. Some people have believed that this design works as an amulet to protect us from evil spirits or fire.
Also, same as other sword mountings, you would find the Fuji pattern in this Tsuba. The scabbard is also decorated with this crest. By designing family crests everywhere, this sword’s former owner might have tried to impress his clan on others.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK Hozon Certificate for the blade (No.3015706)
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 30th in the 29th year of Heisei (2017). 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 : Tokyo 282948
The Board of Education in Tokyo 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.
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【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.
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【The Art of Nihonto(Japanese Sword)】
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【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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