Original WWII Japanese Army Officer Katana Samurai Sword in Scabbard By Yoshida Kaneuji - Dated 1941
Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased directly from a collector in the UK, this is a very nice wartime production medium to high grade Japanese officer Katana (Gunto). The blade bears the markings of Yoshida Kaneuji, who was swordsmith at Seki Arsenal, complete with his hot-stamped personal seal (kokuin). The Showato blade is also marked with the date of manufacture: 1941. The blade is hand-made and tempered, indicated by a few tell tale characteristics that include:
- Single hole tang with original file marks present.
- Tang is signed by the maker on both sides with date!
- Holes in tang are punch not drilled
- Visible Temper line (hamon) on the blade.
Offered in good condition with a clean mostly bright blade, this sword has definitely seen use, as indicated by blade and handle condition. The cutting edge has some small nicks up and down the cutting edge, and the polish of the blade has been worn, making the gunome midare (irregular zig zag) shaped hamon somewhat hard to see. There does not appear to have been any post-war sharpening of the blade however, and it is still sharp. Blade is somewhat heavy and the length is approximately 26 1/2" and overall length 38".
The markings on the tang are ones that we have deciphered, and have the name of the smith both chisel marked and hot-stamped into the blade: 兼氏 (KANE-UJI) a wartime smith with the surname of Yoshida working at the arsenal in Seki, which is stamped above the name. The opposite side of the tang is marked with the date, which is in the standard Japanese format: 昭和 十六 年 十一月 (Showa Juu Roku Nen Juuichi gatsu). This date system is based on the year of the current reigning emperor, so this sword was made in the 16th year of Showa Emperor Hirohito's reign, 1941 in the western calendar, in the 11th month of November.
The blade mountings are the classic WW2 era Army style. Brass Habaki (blade collar) with a round brass tsuba (cross guard) is of the typical army type, with cherry blossom decorations. The fuchi (hilt collar) is brass with cherry blossoms as well, and shows wear. The tsuka (handle) has brass Imperial Army cherry blossom menuki (grip decoration), and also has a nice Kabuto-Gane (Pommel Cap), also with cherry blossoms. The Single bamboo securing peg is still present. Excellent stingray Sa-Me (grip) with complete Ito (cloth binding), though the cloth is definitely worn from use. Overall the hilt is very tight fitting, most likely from shrinkage over the years. Usually there would also be some Seppa (spacers) around the tsuba to keep it stable, but they are unfortunately missing, so the cross guard is somewhat loose.
The Scabbard (saya) is black lacquered wood, and is in fair condition, with a brass hanger ring. The scabbard is mostly covered with a lovely brown leather cover, which has shrunk over time, making removing it from the scabbard difficult, so we did not try. The end of the scabbard is mushroomed out a bit from contact with the ground.
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 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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