Antique Japanese Sword Wakizashi Signed by Tanba no Kami Yoshimichi with NBTHK Tokubestsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Tanba no Kami Yoshimichi(丹波守吉道), whose real name was Mishina Kinuemon (三品金右衛門). He was active in sword-forging during the early Edo period (Mid-Late 17th century ) in Osaka. He belonged to Osaka Mishina school, one of the most prestigious schools back then.
The swordsmith Yoshimichi prospered in Osaka and Kyoto for generations during the Edo period. And to distinguish the two Yoshimichi, The one in Osaka is called Osaka Yoshimichi, and the other one is called Kyo Yoshimichi. And, we believe this blade was created by the first-gen Osaka Yoshimichi.
The first-gen Osaka Yoshimichi was born in the third year of the Keicho era (1598) as the second son of the first-gen Kyo Tanba no Kami Yoshimichi in Kyoto. His father was one of the most skilled sword makers in Kyoto city, and Yoshimichi learned sword-forging skills from him first. Later, he received the honorable official title Tanba no Kami and moved to Osaka city during the Seiho era (1644-1648). He was especially active in sword-forging during the Jo-Ou era (1652-1655). He became an independent swordsmith in Osaka city and made the fame of Mishina school spread in Osaka.
His father developed a unique Hamon pattern(tempering line) called Sudareba(簾刃). Sudare means traditional screens or blinds in Japanese. The Hamon pattern he invented resembles its appearance to Sudare. This blade has a beautiful Sudareba Hamon. This special characteristic was passed down to the first-gen Osaka Yoshimichi.
The first-gen Kyo Tanba no Kami Yoshimichi belonged to Kyoto Mishina school and was one of the sons of the Mishina school’s founder. Mishina school was created by the first-gen Mutsu no Kami Omichi (陸奥守大道), also known as Kanemichi. It is said that initially, Kanemichi was from Mino province, exclusively forging blades for Shingen Takeda, a famous feudal lord. Later on, he moved to Kyoto by bringing his four sons and founded his school in Kyoto. Five sons were Iga no Kami Kinmichi(伊賀守金道)、Izumi no Kami Rai Kinmichi(和泉守来金道), Tanba no Kami Yoshimichi(丹波守吉道) and Echu no kami Masatoshi(越中守正俊). His sons were known as Kyoto Gokaji(京都五鍛冶), prestigious swordsmiths forging in Kyoto in the early Edo period.
The blades forged by Tanba no Kami Yoshimichi are categorized as Osaka Shinto. Shinto is Japanese Sword terminology that refers to the swords forged during 1596-1781. The blades made in the Osaka area during this period are called Osaka Shinto. There are many famous swordsmiths in this Osaka Shinto era. After Hideyoshi Toyotomi built Osaka castle, Osaka city flourished as a castle town and became the business center. Many swordsmiths moved to Osaka to look for better opportunities. They not only forged swords for those Samurai who lived in Osaka but also for feudal lords nationwide.
One of the most notable characteristics of Osaka Shinto is its beauty in Jigane. Jigane is a visible steel surface pattern created by folding and hammering during the forging process), which made it possible by the location of Osaka. Osaka had close access to the Tamahagane(special carbon steel to make Japanese swords) production sites. The swordsmiths residing in Osaka were able to get high-quality carbon steel from these sites.
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)：54.5 cm (21.4 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：1.06 cm (0.42 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 made from silvery metal. And it has the same design as the Kojiri (鐺, the metal fitting that protects the tip of a scabbard). There are so many peonies blooming that they seem to fill the gaps and overflow the screen. Peony 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 the Botan in Japanese. When we write this flower’s name in Japanese, its second letter means mountain hermit medicine that would give us eternal youth. Based on the meaning of this letter, the peony pattern symbolizes eternal youth and longevity. These auspicious meanings might have influenced the design of this Fuchi Kashira.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
This handle seems to be wrapped with rattan, and a Menuki is attached to it. We believe this handle’s Tsukamaki (柄巻, generic term for string wrapped around the entire handle), its type of Tsukamaki is the Ikkanmaki (一貫巻). In this Tsukamaki style, rhombus patterns appear only on both ends of the handle, and the center of the handle is flat. The Tsukamaki itself is initially intended to reinforce the handle and make it easier to fix the hand’s position when grasping the handle, so various threads and winding methods were used depending on how practical and decorative it is. This Koshirae’s handle is one of the methods born from such trial and error.
About the design of this Menuki, we think the Myoga (茗荷, Japanese ginger) is its motif. Two Myogas are placed on each side of the handle, and one of which is plated with gold. The Myoga was brought to Japan with Shoga (生姜, ginger). According to a theory, Shogas used to be called “Senoka,” and Myogas used to be called “Menoka” in ancient times. And these pronunciations changed with time. The Myoga has the same pronunciation as another word, “Myoga (冥加),” which means divine protection; therefore, people have treated this motif as a good-luck design. It is seen at shrines and temples in various places in Japan. Also, it is quite a popular motif for family crests. It is one of the Judai Kamon (十大家紋, ten widely used family crests in Japan). In this way, this plant pattern has been familiar to Japanese people for a long time.
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.
A dragon is engraved on both sides of this Tsuba. Golden paint is applied to these dragons and the Mimi (耳, edge of Tsuba), and it adds decorativeness to this work. The dragons are carved with great care down to minor details, such as each scale, each hair, and one wrinkle on each fingertip. Initially, the dragon is an imaginary creature found in ancient foreign 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.
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. You would find a figure dancing on the rim of the water jar, using the lid of the water jar as a hat. While we cannot determine who this person is, we assume this person was probably drawn as a character in a scene from some historical fact or story.
Kougai：Kougai is the equipment for Samurai to arrange or fix his hair style.
This item is an antique Kougai (笄), which was used to arrange or fix the hairstyle of Samurai. The Kougai is usually stored in the Kougai Hitsu. A Kozuka is often kept on the other side of the scabbard, as seen on this scabbard. This Kougai is separated into two parts; this type of Kougai is categorized as the Wari Kougai (割笄). This separated type was invented in the Edo period, and it became popular as decorative metal fittings. A theory says some people used Wari Kougais as chopsticks. In this work, some plant leaves and countless stem-like things are designed. In addition, many diagonal lines are engraved on the surface of the metal, making it look as if these plants are being hit by rain.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 1019399)
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 12th in the 4th 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 : Osaka 14938
The Board of Education in Osaka 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.
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“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.
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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.
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【How to make sure the condition】
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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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