Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Nioh Masakiyo with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Choshu Hagi Jyu Nioh Masakiyo (長州萩二王方清). He was a descendant of Nioh Kiyotsuna, the founder of the Nioh school. He lived in Hagi city, Shimonoseki city and Toyoura city in Yamaguchi prefecture. His son, Nioh Kurou Masakiyo (二王九郎方清) and he forged strong looking blades in their career. His works don’t have hefty curvature and Mihaba (width) is wide and Kasane (thickness) is thick. I would say this blade has characteristic of his creations. His active period is during the early Edo period (Kanbun era: 1661-1673).
Nioh school flourished from the mid-Kamakura period to the late Muromachi period (500-750 years ago) and lasted until the Edo period(150-400 years ago). The school was founded by Nioh Taro Kiyotsuna(二王太郎清綱) in Suo Province(today’s Yamaguchi prefecture). According to his remaining work, the oldest blade was forged in 1265. It is currently enshrined in Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima. It is said that he started to forge swords in around 1205 (early Kamakura period). The Nioh swordsmiths inherited the part of its founder’s name 清(Kiyo) such as 清房(Kiyofusa), 清長(Kiyonaga).
There were a lot of lands in Suo Province controlled by the Todaiji temple in the Kamakura-Muromachi period. It is said that Nioh school and Yamato swordsmiths from Nara prefecture had a strong relationship and technological exchange. That is why the blades forged by Nioh swordsmiths had a strong influence from YAMATO-DEN.
*Todaiji temple is located in Nara prefecture. Before the Edo period, temples and shrines gained strong political influence.
The name Nioh came from the legend that the Tachi blade forged by Kiyotsuna(the founder of Nioh school) was able to save the Nioh statue by cutting the chain connected to it when Nioh temple was on fire. Another theory was that Nioh swordsmiths lived in a village called Nioh no Sho(二保庄) and started to call themselves Nioh swordsmiths.
It was 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 June. And, we are expecting to receive its authentication paper in a couple of months. This authentication paper was only given to authentic Japanese swords, especially well preserved and high quality with artistic value.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)： 64.8 cm (25.5 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：1.5 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.
The horse is the motif of this Fuchi Kashira. Many horses are drawn all over on each small screen. While making the most of the brown color of copper, it is a colorful and gorgeous piece that is partly colored with gold and silver. The expressions and movements of the horses are also lively. These expressions make this Fuchi Kashira looks bright and cheerful.
Horses have been around human life for a long time, not only as our food but also for transportation or carriage of luggage. In Japan, in ancient times, horses were considered vehicles for gods to be dedicated to shrines. It is said it is the origin of Ema (絵馬, picture tablet used as an offering at a shrine) today. Horses had been used as a tool for rituals and festivals. After the age that Samurai appeared, wearing large armor or performing archery riding a hose became martial arts. Equestrian tactics became the pillar of military action and security activities. A theory says that is why the Japanese sword began to have a curve to make it suitable for slashing (the Japanese sword was straight in the beginning).
On this Fuchi Kashira, you would find nine horses. In Japanese, there are horse-related words “馬九行久” and “馬九行駆.” Both these words are pronounced as Umakuiku (うまくいく). Uma (馬) is a horse, and Umakuiku itself means everything will go well. If we interpret the string of characters listed in Kanji (漢字) in a dictionary sense, it means that nine horses are going. However, it has long been said that the design combining nine horses brings the following nine fortunes: game luck, financial luck, career luck, family luck, love luck, health luck, prosperous business, plentiful harvest, and exam pass. This idea might have inspired the design of this Fuchi Kashira.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
About the motif of this Menuki, we would propose two possibilities. The one is the turtles due to the parts that seem to be tortoise shells painted with gold. The turtle’s shell pattern is called the Kikkou Mon (亀甲文) in Japanese. It is a continuous geometric pattern connecting regular hexagons up and down. According to a theory, this design was brought from the continent in the Asuka (592-710), and Nara periods (710-794). A proverb says turtles live long lives; therefore, the turtle and turtle’s shell patterns represent longevity. In addition, as this continuous hexagonal pattern does not get out of its shape, it is said people wished for eternal prosperity by using this design. When this design was brought to Japan, it was monopolized by the aristocracy so that ordinary people even could not see it. It was such a prestigious design at that time. The Kikkou pattern was applied to various items such as Kimono (着物, traditional Japanese costume), Obi (帯, belt for Kimono), porcelains, etcetera. Samurais started using the Kikkou pattern in the Kamakura period (1185-1333), and it has become widely known among the general public.
Another possibility is that this Menuki combines two horses on each side. In this case, the golden turtle’s shell-designed parts are regarded as saddles. Sometimes it takes work to judge the motif of Menuki because we need to see from the gaps of the Tsukamaki thread. In this Menuki’s case, we hope one of our proposed prospects would meet with its design.
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 iron Tsuba has an oval shape. A kind of metal is melted into the Kozuka hole. If you focus on the Nakago hole (center hole), you will find the engraved inscription. We think it is written as follows: 廣■直■ (■ is a character but cannot read). It shows its maker’s name, but it is challenging to read due to its wear. These letters are partially distorted; we estimate it is because of the effect of enlarging the Nakago hole to load the blade.
About the design, you could find a Tonbo (蜻蛉, dragonfly) perched on a pumpkin leaf. This insect has been inhabited for a long time ago in Japan. As they bag preys quickly, its heroic figure was sometimes the object of belief. During the Warring States period, the dragonfly was called the Kachimushi (勝ち虫, winning insect) because of its fearless character; it moves only forward, not backward. Above all, the dragonfly pattern combined with the iris flower or the arrow was favored. Allow was one of the Samurai’s primary weapons. The iris flower is called the Shoubu (菖蒲) in Japanese, and there is the word Shoubu (勝負), which means battle. So, “Shoubu” (菖蒲, iris flower) and Shoubu (勝負, fight) those two words have the same pronunciation; therefore, the iris flower pattern reminds Samurai battlefields.
Pumpkin is a familiar vegetable globally. In Japan, there is a common custom that people eat pumpkin: Touji (冬至, the winter solstice). In the Japanese calendar, the winter solstice is one of the 24 turning points of the season and refers to the shortest day of the year. The fact that the daytime hours are the quickest on this day means that the days will gradually lengthen again from the next day. Therefore, the winter solstice is celebrated around the world as the day when the sun is reborn. As mentioned above, Japanese people conventionally eat pumpkins on this day. Pumpkin is called the Kabocha (かぼちゃ) or Nankin (南瓜/なんきん) in Japanese. And, the name of this vegetable is one of the reasons why pumpkins are on the table at the winter solstice. According to a theory, you would be lucky if you ate something with the character “ん” on this day. You see that the name Nankin has two “ん” letters. In addition, since ancient times, yellow has been considered a talisman color, and some people believe that the yellow color of pumpkins wards off evil spirits. While we are unsure why this vegetable motif was depicted on this Tsuba, we think its auspicious ideas might have inspired this Tsuba’s design. And we hope you enjoyed this short story that shows a deep relationship between pumpkins and Japanese culture.
This Habaki has a unique design. The scenery of rough waves colliding violently is expressed pictorially. Although there are minor dents here and there, the engraving lines remain transparent. We would like to say that this Habaki is in relatively good condition.
As waves’ movements continue endlessly, the wave pattern represents eternity, immortality, longevity, birth, etcetera. Also, since tides repeatedly change the shape and terrain of rocks, some people hoped for a strong will by using this motif. People used this pattern wishing for an indomitable spirit to rechallenge time and time without giving up. Thanks to its dynamic design, this motif has been appreciated, especially for men’s Kimono (着物, traditional Japanese costume).
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade
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 this June and we are expecting to receive its authentication paper in a couple of months. 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 35677
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.
【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,CHF 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.
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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.
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.