Norimitsu wakizashi?

I have recently purchased a wakizashi that appears to be a 'Norimitsu' The nakago has a mumei/signature reading (I believe) Bishu Osafune Norimitsu.
I believe that means, in simple terms, that it could have been made anytime between about 1300 and 1700, as there were nine generations of Norimitsu working out of Bizen school/Osafune.

I have attached a couple of PDFs which shows the blade/hamon/nakago. I have also included a picture of an authenticated (NBTHK) Norimitsu from 1470, as it's the closest match to the hamon/tempering on my blade I could find. I realise that doesn't necessarily mean anything and it could easily be a gimei from the period. The question is, which period or which Norimitsu was being copied at the time?

If I was more knowledgeable in identifying features that would help date the blade, that would be great, but I'm finding it a slow process in learning the various Japanese terms for every little aspect of swordsmithing, never mind putting them into practice.
My guess would be 1500's - but that is purely a wild guess based on not much at all.

I've just started looking into it a bit more and hopefully will have a better idea of what I own over the next few weeks. The piece of paper it came with I imagine is only a basic registration document and bears no relation to authenticity.

Anyway, any comments/help appreciated.

norimitsu2.pdf390.88 KB
norimitsu_one.pdf418.46 KB


Hi, I can't help you with the "which Norimitsu" question, but the registration paper is from Hiroshima prefecture, dated 1970.



Hi Pete,

Thanks. I'll dig deeper and see if I can come up with my own judgement based on what I can find in Nagayama's book and on the net generally.
I assume the registration paper bears absolutely no relation to accuracy or judgement on authenticity? Would that be correct?
I thought that the NBTHK and NTHK certificates were the only recognised record of authenticity.

I found this on the net regarding registration certificates, and quote from the webpage:-

"TOROKUSHO (Registration certificate)
A word on registration. All swords in Japan are required by law to be registered with a local prefectural government. This is the sword’s ‘passport’ so to speak, and it needs to stay with the sword at all times. Often this card is wrapped around the saya (scabbard). On the actual TOROKUSHO, information on the blade’s length, curvature, and number of holes in the tang are documented along with any signature present. Each blade has its own unique number."

I note that Japanese sellers of swords don't send this certificate with a sword, but state that they only send a copy and that the original must be sent to the Japanese Government on export?




Hi Pete,

Also found this, which verifies what I assumed regarding authenticity - but crucially (if I understand it correctly) it states,...."whether it's authentic (Shoshin 正真) or false (Gimei 偽銘)."

Does it say anywhere on the certificate anything about shoshin or gimei? This I don't understand fully. If a Torokusho is not a cert of authenticity then it surely cannot state shoshin or gimei as that would be a statement of authenticity?!

"It should be noted that the Torokusho is not a certificate of authenticity; only the length, Sori, number of Mekugi-ana and the Mei (name inscribed) are stated, whether it's authentic (Shoshin 正真) or false (Gimei 偽銘)."

This quote was taken from this webpage:

All very confusing, unless its a 'translation issue?'



registration cert

Hi Andy, the registration cert doesn't say anything about shoshin/gimei - it has the measurements, the number of mekugi-ana, and the mei. In that article you pointed out, I think the sentence is poorly written, and is missing the word "not" when mentioning shoshin/gimei.
I think the registration shinsa is only determining if the blade is a real Nihonto or not according to the law - if it fails, it must be destroyed.

From the other side, if the registration DID indicate shoshin or not, that would be a great boon to many collectors! But the NBTHK and NTHK would probably never allow it, because it would cut into their revenue.

Regarding groups that do authentication: The NBTHK and NTHK are certainly the main ones by a large margin, but there were/are others. For example, I think there are examples of the Homma family (very famous polishers) writing down their opinion about a blade. Their opinion would not be questioned, and for good reason. A top polisher has more overall knowledge than just about anybody else. The difference with NBTHK/NTHK is that they are in the business of collecting money in exchange for a written opinion that they sign their name to on a fancy piece of paper. But for someone who just wants to learn "the truth", it is just as good to get the verbal opinion of an advanced collector or a polisher. You actually learn more than with the kanteisho paper, which only says "good/bad", and perhaps naming the "school", but without offering any other helpful commentary.
I'm sure you can tell that I'm not a fan of the whole process and concept of getting "authentication" papers. Papers are a crutch for too many collectors.


Registration Certificates

Hi Pete,

Thank you for clarifying that - I did think that there was an issue with the wording and that explains a lot - ie, that these reg certs do NOT give any opinion as to authenticity of school or smith but only offer up a judgement of the blade being a fake or not. Obviously if fake then it would be destroyed and wouldn't need any form of certificate, so at least one can say it's 'of the period' but that is about it. So until I do some more research, it will remain a possible Norimitsu of between about 1400 and 1700, being possibly one of nine generations. I'll see how I get on over the next few weeks/months and may post again with my own judgement based on blade features/mei etc....

Onwards and upwards.

Thanks again.