Original WWII Japanese RJT Shin-Gunto Handmade Katana Sword by ZUIHO with Textured Scabbard - dated 1943
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.
The blade on this example was hand forged, and the tang of the blade bears the star stamp of the RJT inspection. It is signed (Mei) with the characters 瑞 峯 造, which is read as ZUIHO TSUKURU, or "ZUIHO Made This". The characters are written in the very flowing "grass writing" style of Japanese script, which can be very difficult to decipher. We have compared the tang to other blades and this is definitely a blade by ZUIHO. Above the mei is the RJT "Star" marking.
Per Markus Sesko's Index of Japanese Swordsmiths, this smith was also known as SHIGEFUSA (重房), or “Zuihō Shigefusa” (瑞峯重房), and their real name was Kojima Kameta (小島亀太). Born in 1887, he used the gō Genbusai (玄武斎) and was the son of Kojima Kunitomo (国友), he founded the forge Genbusai Tantō Jo (玄武斎鍛刀所) and also worked as rikugun-jumei-tōshō, ranked 貴品の列 "kihin no retsu" by Akihide, the third highest rank during the Showa period.
The blade is also dated on the tang with: 癸 未 八 月, which is read Mizunoto-Hitsuji Ni-Gatsu, or the 1943, second month of February. This is in the Japanese "Zodiac" format, which is a 60 year repeating cycle involving Twelve animals and the Five elements. Mizu means "water" and Hitsuji means "sheep", so 1943 was the year of the Sheep with the element water. There is no era name before the date, but that is standard for this maker.
The blade is handmade and was expertly crafted by a sword maker, which is indicated by a few tell-tale characteristics that include:
- Multiple Holes in the tang are punched and not drilled.
- Visible temper line ("hamon")
- Blade has lamination visible in the body (JI) as well as edge (HA) of the blade, a well as some FUKURE (blister) "blade wounds" (KIZU), as well as some WARE (lamination artifacts), which only appear on traditionally made blades.
- Blade is signed on the tang by the maker ("Mei"), and dated on the opposite side
- 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 just a few tiny nicks or dents on the edge. It has however been cleaned a lot, which has made the temper line very faint, and it can only be seen by holding the blade to the light. Blade length is approximately 27 3/8 inches and overall length of 39 1/4 inches. The katana has a handmade blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with 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.
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. It has a nice stingray skin (Sa-Me) grip, which is fully intact, with at 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 two iron screws, instead of the usual wood or bamboo mekugi (pegs).
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 ZUIHO, this is a real USGI bring-back from WWII, ready to display and cherish!
Blade Length: 27 3/8”
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 39 1/4"
Scabbard Length: 29 3/4"
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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