Antique Japanese Sword Wakizashi Signed by Tadahiro with NBTHK Tokubestsu Hozon Certificate
Hizen Koku Jyu Omi Daijyo Fujiwara Tadahiro
This blade was signed by Hizen Koku Jyu Omi no Daijyo Fujiwara Tadahiro(肥前国住近江大掾藤原忠広) , who is the first son of the first-gen Tadayoshi. It is said that Tadahiro was active in sword-forging during 1624-1688 (Early Edo Period).
Tadayoshi(Father) is one of the most famous swordsmiths in the early Edo period and made Hizen province(today’s Saga prefecture) a prominent sword-forging place back then. Tadahiro learned sword-forging techniques under his father’s supervision until Tadayoshi died in 1632 (9th year of the Kan-Ei era).
Tadahiro took over the school his father ran when he was only 19 years old, and he started to make a sword in the same year. This fact indicates that he was excellent at making swords, and the apprentices of his father(Tadayoshi) supported him to run the school. Tadahiro received the title of Omi Daijyo in 1641 (the sixth year of the Genroku era). He kept forging swords for almost 60 years for the Nabeshima clan, strong feudal lords.
Tadahiro died at the age of 81 in 1693 and left a large number of excellent swords before his decease. He had many famous apprentices, such as the third-gen Mutsu Daijyo Tadayoshi, Harima Daijyo Tadakuni, and Kawachi Daijyo Masahiro.
Fujiwara Tadahiro and other swordsmiths in the Hizen province worked under the auspices of Nabeshima clan. The swordsmiths in Hizen province were able to produce beautiful Jigane-patterned blades, also known as Hizen To, using and mixing carbon steel made in Netherland.
Most of Tadahiro’s work has Hamon types of Suguha and Chojimidare. This blade has Suguha Hamon, and you can see beautiful Jigane, which is famous for blades made in Hizen province. Swords forged by Tadahiro are also famous among Japanese sword collectors because of his exquisite craftsmanship and history.
The first-gen Tadayoshi (His father)
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, which is the headquarter of the Nabeshima clan. And, he founded Hizen Tadayoshi school, which trained more than 100 swordsmiths during the Edo period. Tadahiro is one of them.
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)：49.9 cm (19.6 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：0.8 cm (0.31 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.
While some parts are simplified, we believe the dragon is the motif of this Fuchi Kashira. You would find their figures on both Fuchi and Kashira parts. Initially, the dragon was an imaginary creature found in ancient foreign traditions or myths. Furthermore, it is regarded as a symbol 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.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
The same as the Fuchi Kashira, this Menuki’s design is also related to the dragon. Dragons of Menuki have more finely carved scales, down to the individual scales, and since there is no Tsukamaki thread wrapped around this handle, we could see their entire figures. If you focus on the upper side Menuki’s dragon, you will find that this dragon brings a ball-shaped object in its hand. It is the Nyoi Houju (如意宝珠, Cintāmaṇi), a fantasy jewel that fulfills any desire and gives out treasure, clothes, food, and drinks. Moreover, it heals illness and suffering, removes evils, purifies muddy water, and prevents disasters. It is said this magical item is taken from the brain of the dragon king.
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 is made of Shakudou (赤銅), which contains copper and a small amount of gold. Therefore, it creates a glossy purplish-black color. Its base was hit by Tagane (鏨, chisel for metalworking), and it makes a rough surface that seems stone. This type of surface is called the Ishime-Ji (石目地). Its edge is covered with silver and engraved rope pattern. A squirrel and a bunch of grapes are designed on this Tsuba. Each fur of a squirrel or the veins of leaves is finely carved. You would enjoy its elaborate engraving techniques.
As grapes have lots of fruits, it is regarded as a symbol of fertility, abundant harvest, and longevity. The squirrel looks similar to the mouse; therefore, it represents the prosperity of future generations. Budou (葡萄) means grape, and Risu (栗鼠) means squirrel. In Japanese, there is another word, Budou (武道), which means martial arts. Also, there is a verb that is pronounced Rissu (律す). It means to regulate something. As Budou (葡萄) and Risu (栗鼠) have the same (or similar) pronunciation of these words, it is considered that grape and squirrel patterns share some underlying ideas with Bushido (武士道, Japanese chivalry). That is why many Samurai appreciated the combination of grape and squirrel patterns.
This Tsuba was appraised as a Hozon Tosogu by NBTHK on March 10th in the second year of the Reiwa (2020).
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. This Kozuka’s theme is a classical design called the Botan-ni Karajishi (牡丹に唐獅子). The Botan (牡丹) is a peony. Its design represents happiness, wealth, nobleness, and gorgeousness. This flower pattern has been treated as a kind of good-omen motif; people regarded it as a rich harvest sign. Peony is called “Botan” in Japanese. When we write this flower’s name in Japanese, its second letter means mountain hermit medicine to give us eternal youth. Based on the meaning of this letter, the peony pattern symbolizes eternal youth and longevity.
The Karajishi (唐獅子) is an auspicious beast. The Shishi (獅子) means a lion in Japanese, and the Karajishi is a lion brought from the continent to Japan in the Toh period (唐, Tang dynasty, 618-907). The Karajishi typically has curly hair for its head, neck, body, and tail. In Buddhism, the Karajishi is regarded as a symbol of wisdom, and the Monju Bosatu (文殊菩薩, Manjushri Bodhisattva) rides lions. According to a theory, the Karajishi originates from the Komainu (狛犬, stone guardian dogs that exorcize evil spirits). There is a Houwa (法話, Buddhist monks tell the story of Buddhism in an easy-to-understand manner) that treats the Kara-Jishi and this flower. The lion is called the king of the beasts. However, even this invincible animal has only one fear: a bug in the lion’s body. This pest grows in the lion’s hair, eventually breaking the skin and biting the flesh. Nevertheless, it dies if it is exposed to be the night dew of a peony. Therefore, the lion rests under peony flowers at night, looking for a haven. This Kozuka’s design might have been quoted from this story.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 1016263)
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 August 27th 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 : Niigata 071977
The Board of Education in Niigata 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.
“My experience overall with the whole process was wonderful. I had many questions about the history and process to purchase these treasures. All my questions were answered very timely and complete. The staff is very knowledgeable and very well versed if any questions do arise.”
【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, 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 EMS.
We normally ship by EMS(Express Mail Service) provided by Japan Post. We will send you a tracking number for your order as soon as we hand it to the post office. 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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