Original WWII Japanese RJT Rinji Seikishi Shin-Gunto Handmade Katana Sword by ICHIHARA NAGAMITSU with Textured Scabbard
Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased at a large military auction, this is a great USGI Bring-Back wartime production high grade Japanese officer Katana in the Rikugun Jumei Tosho fittings. These were a high grade of variation of the 臨時正式 (Rinji Seikishi) or "Special Contingency" version of the Type 98 Shin-Gunto (九八式軍刀 kyūhachi-shiki guntō) setting. They feature a textured lacquered scabbard, as well as a blade lock that has releases on both sides of the crossguard, not seen on the "regular" version of the Rinji Seishiki. The cross screws through the handle, instead of the usual wooden or bamboo pegs, is another change made.
These fittings, while often called the P-1944, were in fact designed in 1938, but didn't really see much use until 1940. They were designed to be more robust than the regular Type 98 fittings, as well as less expensive and time consuming to produce. However the standard Type 98 fittings continued to be produced concurrently until almost the end of the war. The blade tang on this RJT Shin-Gunto is signed by the maker, and is handmade in the traditional fashion. A Shin-Guntō (新軍刀, new military sword) is a weapon and symbol of rank used by the Imperial Japanese Army between the years of 1935 and 1945.
The Rikugun Jumei Tosho were swordsmiths certified by the Army headquarters of Japan during wartime. Their names first appear in "Rikugun Jumei Tosho Meibo (1933)" and it is believed that they produced blades for highly ranked officers. Besides Yasukuni tosho and Minatogawa tosho, these smiths all produced Gendaito (traditionally made blades), which should be discerned from Showato (arsenal forged blades). A star stamp was marked on the blade tang when passed by Rikugun Shinsa Inspection, however there were RJT smiths that did not have them inspected routinely.
The blade on this example was hand forged, and the tang of the blade is signed (Mei) with the characters 長 光 作, which is read as NAGA MITSU SAKU or "Nagamitsu Made This". This is one of the known mei used by RJT approved smith 市原 長光 - "Ichihara Nagamitsu", also known as 市原 一龍子 長光 - Ichihara Iryuushi Nagamitsu. We have compared signature on the tang to other blades and this is definitely a blade by Nagamitsu. The "Naga" character has only two horizontal strokes at the top, a trademark of swords by this particular maker. They were quite well known during the showa period and WWII for making very high quality blades. The swordsmith name Nagamitsu is one full of history, and arguably one of the most famous names in Japanese swordmaking history, with many very well regarded smiths using the name over the past 7 centuries.
For more information on this particular smith, please see this page on this maker at the Japanese Sword Index website: Ichihara Nagamitsu.
The blade is handmade and was expertly crafted by a sword maker, which is indicated by a few tell-tale characteristics that include:
- Holes in the tang (mekugi-ana) are punched and not drilled.
- Visible Vibrant temper line ("hamon").
- Visible grain (hada) in the blade body (ji), only possible with laminated steel.
- Blade is signed on the tang by the maker ("Mei")
- Blade has a proper geometric Yokote at the tip (kissaki) with a Boshi (tip temper line)
Offered in very good condition, the blade is still sharp and looks great. There are no chips or dents on blade's edge that we can see. The overall polish is still very good, though there is some light oxidation haze and polish degradation in areas. Blade length is approximately 26 7/8 inches and overall length of 38 inches. The katana has a handmade blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with a haagari (asymmetrically rounded) nakago-jiri (tang tip). It has a proper kissaki (tip) with a clear yokote (division between body and tip).
The hamon type looks to be a very rapid Choji (Clover Tree Flower) type, which is very attractive. There are NIE crystals visible at the edge of the hamon, with the correct NIOI cloudiness in the body of the hamon. There is a lot of activity, and ASHI, which are lines of NIOI leading to the edge. The tip temper line, or BOSHI, is the OMARU style, which means it is a large circle shape with a turnback at the MUNE (blade spine). The body of the blade has very attractive HADA (grain), which looks to be the ITAME (woodgrain) type, with some possible areas of MOKUME (wood burl).
The blade mountings are the typical Rikugun Jumei Tosho Army style, similar to the P-1944. Round iron tsuba (cross guard) with no decorations, a plated copper habaki (blade collar), with an iron fuchi (grip collar). There are three seppa (spacers) surrounding the tsuba, properly inlet for the scabbard lock, and the one closest to the blade is "cup" shaped. The scabbard lock is present and fully functional, but unlike the usual pattern, there are release buttons on both the fuchi and on the scabbard itself.
The tsuka (handle) has brass Imperial Army cherry blossom menuki (grip decoration), and an unadorned black Kabuto-Gane (Pommel Cap), with a hanger ring. The SAME (handle covering) is not Stingray, but burlap dipped in wax to help with grip as well as water resistance. This type of covering is actually a hallmark of RJT swords by Nagamitsu. Wrapped around this is a complete Ito (cloth binding), which looks to have been lacquered, as many RJT pattern handles were. The handle is also slightly wider at the guard end. An interesting feature of the RJT fittings is that the handle is actually held on by iron screws, though in this case only the peg closest to the blade is, while the lower one has a wooden peg.
The Scabbard (saya) is wooden with a textured Lacquered fabric overlay. This type of scabbard is lightweight and usually seen on HIGH end Katanas. They have a cloth wrapping over the wood before the thick paint on layers are applied. It acts as a reinforcing and gives it a lovely textured look. These are standard with the RJT fittings.
An incredible Japanese RJT Shin-gunto by ICHIHARA NAGAMITSU, this is a real USGI bring-back from WWII, ready to display and cherish!
Blade Length: 26 7/8”
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 38"
Scabbard Length: 29 1/4"
It has been over one thousand years ago that the art of making swords appeared in Japan. The swordsmiths of the time may not have known it but they were creating a legendary sword. The Samurai sword has seen combat in many battlefields. From the early days of the Samurai warrior to the fierce battles in the South Pacific during WWII.
Each hand-made Samurai sword is unique because it is forged from folded steel stock. A tremendous amount of work is dedicated to creating these pieces. They were an instrument of war as much as a beautiful artifact to adorn a room.
The Samurai sword has grown to be one of the most highly desired military antiques.
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