Original WWII Japanese Army Civilian Shin-Gunto Katana Sword by KANEFUME with Wooden Scabbard
Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased at an estate sale, this is a great USGI Bring-Back wartime production Japanese Katana in an Army Civilian Shin-Guntō (新軍刀, new military sword) setting. These type of fittings (koshirae) were for Civilian employees of the Imperial Japanese Army, and are a lot more variable than the usual Army Officer Type. They are much closer to traditional fittings, without the cherry blossom motifs seen on Officer swords. They also are sometimes a mixture of wartime and traditional, such as on this example.
The blade on this example was hand forged, and the tang of the blade is signed (Mei) with the characters 関 兼 文 作 read as SEKI KANEFUME SAKU. This translates to "Kanefume made this at Seki". Research indicates that smith's real name was 福田 文吉 - Fukuda Fumiyoshi, and their name appears in the Seki Tanrensho Booklet printed in 1939. Yoshinori was active during the Showa Period and worked at Seki arsenal in Gifu, Mino Province (美濃国), and is stamped 昭 (SHOWA) on the tang inside a cherry blossom. They look to have made both arsenal forged and traditional blades. We have confirmed the signature (Oshigata) with other examples of his work. The other side of the tang has some painted Japanese numbers, which look to be 六 六 五, or 6 6 5.
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 temper line ("hamon") with crystallization visible (Nie and Nioi)
- Blade is signed on the tang by the maker ("Mei")
Offered in good condition, the blade is still relatively sharp, and there are only a few small dents and nicks on the edge of the blade. It does show some wear and scuffing, so it definitely saw use during the war. It has definitely been a while since the last polishing, which has made the aspects of the blade hard to see. Blade length is approximately 26 1/4 inches and overall length 37 inches. The katana has a handmade blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with a Naagari (asymmetrical rounded) nakago-jiri.
The HAMON (temper line) is still visible in the light, and looks to be a CHOJI MIDARE (irregular clover tree flower) shape, with some interesting internal activity. Along the transition there are clear NIE crystals visible, with cloudy areas of NIOI in the body of the hamon. The blade body looks to have MASAME HADA (straight grain) in the JI (blade body). The YOKOTE is unfortunately worn away, and the BOSHI (tip temper line) is present but not distinct enough to see the shape.
The fittings for this sword look to have been partly lost during the war, and unfortunately the blade collar (habaki) is missing. The katana now has a standard Japanese Army Mokko Gata (Quince shaped) tsuba, with Cherry Blossom motifs. It is marked with the Suya Sho Ten company Logo. This is a Tokyo company that was used by the Suikosha, or Navy Supply Center. The company mainly made gunto koshirae during WWII. This company started back in the Meiji era and had a long history of making koshirae, including those for members of the Imperial family and many high ranking officers and diplomats.
The Tsuka (handle) has very good stingray (Sa-Me) grip panels, covered with complete green Ito (cloth binding), which is in very good condition. This holds two menuki in place, which are very ornate, and we unfortunately cannot identify the design. The fuchi (grip collar) and kashira (end cap) are both unadorned copper.
The scabbard (saya) is the standard black enamel lacquered type, which we usually see under a leather field cover. There is an unfinished ring around the very end, as well as 3 inches below, so it did at one time have a hanger loop and top fitting installed, probably under the cover. It then degraded, and was removed later on. The scabbard is still in good condition, with paint flaking as shown.
A very nice handmade Japanese Army Civilian Employee type Shin-gunto by a known maker, this is a real USGI bring-back from WWII, ready to display and cherish!
Blade Length: 26 1/4"
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 37“
Scabbard Length: 28 1/2"
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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