Original Unissued WWII Japanese Army Officer Type 98 Shin-Gunto Katana Sword by ICHIHARA NAGAMITSU with Scabbard
Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased at large military show, this is a magnificent UNISSUED USGI Bring-Back wartime production Japanese officer Katana in the Type 98 Shin-Gunto (九八式軍刀 kyūhachi-shiki guntō) setting. We have never seen a Type 98 in such good condition, and we most likely never will again! This is how they are "supposed" to look, without wear removing the gilt accents and browned finish on the brass. The only issue of note is a dent on the side of the scabbard about 9 inches above the bottom. Otherwise, this is as close to MINT as they come!
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. 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 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.
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 fantastic unissued condition, the blade is still quite sharp and looks great. We really do not see any nicks or bends on the edge of the blade at all. The polish is still excellent, and there is just the tiniest bit of discoloration in places, too faint to even be called stains. Blade length is approximately 26 3/8 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. The temper line clearly visible and is a very attractive and active GUNOME (zig zag) 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, much more than we usually see, giving it an almost iridescent look. The tip temper line (boshi) is fully visible and is an OMARU (large turnback) shape. The yokote is is still clear, and the blade has a proper geometric kissaki (tip).
The body of the blade has some great HADA (grain), which is the MASAME (straight) type. There are also some KIZU (blade wounds) on the blade, including some WARE (lamination lines) near the hamon, as well as a few tiny FUKURE (carbon pits). 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, though it does not lock securely as the spring is weak. The blade collar (habaki) is browned 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 only light wear, with a little wear and just a few stains from storage. 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.
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. As mentioned previously, there is a dent about 10 inches from the bottom on one side, which is the only place the paint has chipped away. 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 1 9 6, which is also stamped on the top of the fuchi and on the scabbard lock. This matches the ス一 九 六 (SU 1 9 6) marking on the tang, as well as the ス 1 9 6 marking on the inside of the scabbard. Only the tsuka is unmarked, but it undoubtedly goes with the set. That means these fittings were made for this particular blade, and have not has any parts swapped out over the years.
A fantastic unissued condition Japanese Type 98 Shin-gunto by a famous maker, the best condition example that we have ever had! This is a real USGI bring-back from WWII, ready to display and cherish!
Blade Length: 26 3/8"
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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