Original WWII Japanese Army Civilian Shin-Gunto Katana Sword by KANEYOSHI with Leather Covered Scabbard

Item Description

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.

The blade on this example was hand forged in the traditional fashion, and the tang of the blade is signed (Mei) with the characters 関 住 岡 田 兼 義 作, read as SEKI JU OKADA KANEYOSHI SAKU. This translates to "Made by Kaneyoshi Okada at Seki". Research indicates that this smith's real name was 岡田 武 - (Okada Takeshi), so in this case "Okada" was their family name, and "Kaneyoshi" their "swordsmith name." We have seen many other smiths sign their swords in this fashion. Their name appears in the Seki Tanrensho Booklet printed in 1939. Kaneyoshi was active during the Showa Period and worked at Seki arsenal in Gifu, Mino Province (美濃国), and the blade is stamped (SEKI) on the tang.

In 1942, Kurihara Hikosaburo ranked about 400 Showa Era smiths, and graded them into 7 different levels with 1 being the highest. Kaneyoshi is rated at level 5, 中作 (CHU SAKU or Medium work) = 上工の列 (Joko no Retsu or Good Work). Blades by this smith are very well made compared to most made at Seki Arsenal, many of whom were not even rated.

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")

- Blade has a faint proper geometric Yokote at the tip (kissaki) with a Boshi (tip temper line)

- Visible HADA (grain) in the body of the blade

Offered in very good condition, the blade is still relatively sharp and looks great. We do not see any nicks or bends on the edge of the blade, though there is a bit of speckled oxidation staining in areas. There also is some scuffing from use on the last 4 inches of so of the blade, which has degraded the polish in that area only. Blade length is approximately 25 3/4 inches and overall length 36 1/4 inches.

The katana has a handmade blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with a Haagari (asymmetrical rounded) nakago-jiri. The temper line is fully visible, and is a very attractive and active CHOJI - clover tree flower shape. Along the transition there are clear NIE crystals visible, with cloudy areas of NIOI in the body of the hamon, and some nice activity. The body of the blade shows some nice HADA (grain), which is the MASAME (straight) type. The tip temper line (boshi) is visible and of the KOMARU (large turnback) type, though the yokote is somewhat faint.

The fittings are typical of what we see the Army Civilian Employee Shin-Gunto katanas during the WWII period, with a very nice embossed iron "mokko gata" quince shaped tsuba (cross guard), with two seppa (spacers). It has both Hitsu-ana (accessory holes) for both the Kozuka (kogatana handle) and kogai (hair ornament). The Tsuka (handle) has an excellent stingray (Sa-Me) grip panels, covered with complete dark green Ito (cloth binding), which is in very good condition. This holds two menuki in place, which look to be dogs or some other animal. The fuchi (grip collar) and kashira (end cap) are both embossed iron and match well. The habaki (blade collar) is copper, seen commonly on Showa era private purchase blades. The katana was pictured with a modern screw in place of the mekugi (peg), but we have fashioned an easily removable bamboo replacement.

The scabbard is black finished wood and is contained in a standard WWII type leather field cover, with the correct type of snaps and stitching pattern. However, the leather has shrunk and dry rotted significantly, turning orange and leaving dust on everything it touches. There is a single metal hanger ring attached to a metal ring around the scabbard. There is a snap on the leather cover, which would have attached to a strap on the handle. The loop around the handle is still present, but the strap is completely missing.

A great lightly used 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: 25 3/4"
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 36 1/4“
Scabbard Length: 28 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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