Antique Japanese Sword Wakizashi Signed by Shitahara Masashige with NBTHK Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Bushu Shitahara Jyu Masashige(武州下原住正重). Bushu Shitahara is the name of the area in the Tokyo area today where he created this blade. Masashige was especially active during the Azuchi Momoyama-early Edo period (1573-1615).
Masashige belonged to the Bushu Shitahara school in today’s Tokyo(Hachioji city). It thrived from the end of the Muromachi period to the late Edo period (Late 16th century to Late 19th century). It is said that Yamamoto Norishige founded the school.
Shitahara is a group of swordsmiths who originally served the Hojo clan, a powerful feudal clan during the late Muromachi period-Azuchi Momoyama period.
It is said that Masashige was the son of Terushige, a renowned swordsmith who belonged to this school. Masashige learned sword-forging techniques from this father. Terushige is written as 照重 in Japanese. One of the Kanji letters, 照, was given by the head of the Hojo clan, Hojo Ujiteru (北条氏照), because of his superb craftsmanship.
After the Toyotomi clan destroyed the Hojo clan in the Azuchi Momoyama period, Shitahara started to serve the Tokugawa clan as Okakae Kaji, swordsmiths exclusively working for a specific feudal family. Most of the Shitahara swordsmith’s real sir name was Yamamoto. They especially flourished during the late Muromachi period-early Edo period. They kept forging for the Tokugawa clan until the end of the Edo period.
As you can see, Masashige’s active period was from the Azuchi Momoyama-early Edo period. That signifies that he forged blades during the heyday of this school. And you can see beautiful craftsmanship from this Wakizashi.
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)： 45.1 cm ( 17.7 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 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.
A kind of plant is designed on this Fuchi Kashira. Although we are unsure about the origin of this plant design, it adds decorativeness to this work. Large leaves are arranged in a well-balanced manner around a circular flower-like part, giving an elegant impression.
You would find the engraved inscription on the side of the Fuchi part. It is written as 幸次 and is probably read as Yukitsugu. We can sometimes find makers’ names on this part.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
The motif of this Menuki is the Tsubaki (椿, camellia). Petals have silvery color, and buds are colored gold. Since this plant is an evergreen tree that keeps its green color throughout the year, it has been treated as an auspicious motif. The Tsubaki was said to be the most auspicious tree before Japanese apricot blossoms were introduced from the continent. In the Heian period (794-1185), it was cherished as a noble flower among aristocrats.
According to a theory, the way flowers fell off was unfavorably received among Samurai families because it was seen just like a head had fallen off. However, on the other hand, Tsubaki has been appreciated as a plant that produces various byproducts. Tsubaki has been used for various things such as oil, cosmetics, and medicine, and it can be seen that this flower has been very familiar to Japanese people’s lives since ancient times. Also, some people believed that the Tsubaki would protect people from epidemics or evil spirits. As mentioned above, the Japanese name of camellia is written as 椿. And this letter is composed of 木 (tree) and 春 (spring). So, this flower was considered a plant that waits for the arrival of spring. We could imagine how people named this flower in an attempt to give it a good meaning.
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 circle-shaped Tusba seems to be made from iron. It has a Kozuka hole, and thin lines are evenly engraved on the entire surface. We think it is the Amida Yasuri (阿弥陀鑢). It is a type of decorative carving technique that is used for the ground of the Tsuba. Thin lines are engraved with a file, and these lines are radiated from the center of the Tsuba. Since this design looks similar to the halo of Amida Nyorai (阿弥陀如来, Amitabha Tathagata), this technique was named Amida-Yasuri. It is also called Hiashi-Yasuri.
On the opposite side of the Kozuka hole, you would find an engraved pattern that looks as if a wheel was split in half. We are not sure what the motif is. However, we would say that the combination of this streamlined shape and straight lines of the Amida Yasuri creates an elegant atmosphere in this work.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Please focus on the Kojiri (鐺) part. It is the metal fitting that protects the tip of a scabbard. Although it is damaged and some colorings were already faded due to aging, you would see that cloud patterns are inlaid with golden metal. Clouds bring 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.
The cloud pattern has been associated with magical power, and people thought it an omen of lucky things. In addition, some people wished to obtain a leisurely life in comfort by seeing clouds’ movements. Or, as clouds appear repeatedly, its design represents reincarnation. Samurai warriors were always on the verge of life and death on the battlefields. They might have believed in the power of this pattern. And they had incorporated it into the design of decoration for their swords.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 3027293)
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 3rd in the 3rd year of Reiwa (2021). 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 大和国千手院file for your record if you request.
Registration Number : Ishikawa 11057
The Board of Education in Ishikawa 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.
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 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 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.
【How To Contact Us】
Please contact us through email, Facebook Messenger or Live Chat if you have any questions. You can find each icon on the right side of the website. Please click one of them to reach us. We will reply to you within 1-2 business days.
【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.
Thank you for reading all the information on the page. If you have any difficulty choosing the right Japanese sword for you, we will be more than happy to help you find the one that speaks to you the most. Please feel free to contact us.