Original Japanese WWII Army Officer Type 98 Shin-Gunto Katana Sword by ICHIHARA NAGAMITSU with Scabbard & Family Crest
Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased at large military show, this is a fantastic excellent condition USGI Bring-Back wartime production Japanese officer Katana in the Type 98 Shin-Gunto (九八式軍刀 kyūhachi-shiki guntō) setting. 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 Type 98 pattern of fittings (koshirae) are slightly simplified compared to the earlier Type 94. The blade tang on this great example is signed by the maker, and appears to be handmade in the traditional fashion. We rarely get Shin-gunto in such great condition. This is how they are "supposed" to look, with the gilt accents and browned finish on the brass.
The blade on this example was hand forged, and the tang of the blade is signed (Mei) with the characters 長 光, which is read as NAGAMITSU. 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 (oshigata) to other blades and this is definitely a blade by Nagamitsu. Please see figure "T" on this page at the Japanese Sword Index: NAGAMITSU.
The "Naga" character used by this maker usually only has only two horizontal strokes at the top, however in this case there is another mark above pointing in the opposite direction, and this is believed to be a signature applied by an apprentice. This smith 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, please see the above link, and also this page at the Nihonto Club website: NAGAMITSU.
There is also a paint marking on the blade, which reads 五 六 (5 6), used to match the blade to the fittings.
The blade is handmade and was expertly crafted by a sword maker, which is indicated by a few tell-tale characteristics that include:
- Hole in the tang is punched and not drilled.
- Visible vibrant temper line ("hamon") with crystallization visible (Nie and Nioi)
- Blade is signed on the tang by the maker ("Mei").
- Blade shows hada, or "grain", only possible with laminated steel.
- Blade has kizu, or "wounds" in areas, only possible with laminated steel.
- Blade has a geometric Yokote at the tip (kissaki) with a clear Boshi (tip temper line)
Offered in excellent condition, the blade is still quite sharp and looks great. There are just two tiny nicks on the edge of the blade, and no other damage that we can see at all. The polish is still very good, with some light staining, and the hamon is still fully visible. The blade does show evidence of polish with uchiko powder, made from the finest grade of polishing stones, which has made the polish a bit less sharp than it would normally be. Blade length is approximately 26 inches and overall length of 37 inches.
The katana has a handmade blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with a Iriyamagata (asymmetrical pointed) nakago-jiri. There is also a paint marking on the blade, which reads 五 六 (5 6), used to match the blade to the fittings. The temper line clearly visible and is a very attractive SUGUHA (straight) shape, with a bit of MIDARE (irregular) aspects in places. Along the transition there are clear NIE crystals visible, with cloudy areas of NIOI in the body of the hamon. There is also a lot of internal activity, including ASHI, which are lines of NIOI going towards the edge. The tip temper line (boshi) is fully visible and is an OOMARU (large turnback) shape. The yokote is is still clear, and the blade has a proper geometric kissaki (tip).
The body of the blade still shows some faint HADA (grain), which is the MASAME (straight) type. There are also some KIZU (blade wounds) on the blade, mainly WARE (lamination lines) on the spine of the blade near the MUNEMACHI. These aspects are only possible on traditionally made blades, confirming authenticity.
The blade mountings are the classic later WWII era Type 98 Army Shin-Gunto style, browned brass with gilt accents, which in fantastic condition, showing almost no wear. It has the typical rounded "quince" (mokko gata) shaped tsuba (cross guard) with brass Imperial Army cherry blossom menuki (grip decoration), and a nice Kabuto-Gane (Pommel Cap). The cross guard and pommel cap have matching cherry blossom motifs, which are also found on the scabbard fittings, and the fuchi (grip collar). There are 4 brass Seppa (spacers) around the cross guard to keep the fit tight, and all are inleted for the scabbard lock, which is still intact but unfortunately does not lock anymore. The blade collar (habaki) is copper, and is the standard shape usually seen on WWII production blades.
The handle (tsuka) has a great stingray skin (Sa-Me) grip, with the correct brown Ito (cloth binding). The wrapping shows light to moderate use, with a little wear and some sweat and oil staining on the 4 inches closest to the tsuba.. There is a single wooden securing peg (mekugi) still present, which looks to be a post war replacement. The end of the tsuka has a cord installed, instead of the usual brass hanger loop for a tassel. It is the correct color and definitely original. There is also a very nice Family Crest, or MON on the end fitting, which is the MARU NO GOSAN KIRI, or "3-5 Paulownia Flower in a Circle". This is a crest closely related to the Imperial Family and Tokugawa shogun, with the crest often given to vassals as a reward for their service.
The Scabbard (saya) is steel over wood, and in excellent condition, with almost all of the original lightly textured paint intact. The fittings still have their correct brown finish with gilt highlights, with no movement. It has the correct single hanger loop of the Type 98 style, and the top fitting is inlet for the scabbard lock on the hilt, though due to a weak spring the lock is not functional.
The tsuba and all four seppa are marked with matching number 5 6, which is also stamped on the underside of the fuchi and on the end of the tsuka. This matches the 五 六 (5 6) marking on the tang, which means these fittings were made for this particular blade, and have not has any parts swapped out over the years. The inside of the saya throat is worn, so we are not able to make out any markings, but it matches the shape of the blade, so it is almost certainly original.
A fantastic Japanese Type 98 Shin-gunto by a famous maker, one of the best condition examples that we have ever had! This is a real USGI bring-back from WWII, ready to display and cherish!
Blade Length: 26"
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 37“
Scabbard Length: 29"
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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