Original WWII Japanese Army Officer Shin-Gunto Katana Sword with Tassel and Marked Scabbard - Dated April 1945
Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased directly from a collector, this is a very nice late war style mid grade Japanese officer Katana, with an arsenal-made blade. It is in the standard 1944 pattern Shin-Gunto setting, and is dated April 1945 on the blade tang. A Guntō (軍刀, military sword) is a Japanese sword produced for use by the Japanese army and navy after the end of the samurai era in 1868, when the Meiji Restoration occurred. This is a very nice example, and appears to have seen very little use in combat.
The katana itself measures 36 3/4 inches overall, with a 25 3/4 inch arsenal-made blade. The blade is most likely machine made, as it bears arsenal stamps on the tang, and does not have the correct geometry for a hand-made blade. it has a standard bright finish to it, with no temper line. Condition is excellent, with no chips or nicks, just a small bit of staining due to age.
One side of the tang bears the Mei, or signature, of the smith it was made by. In the arsenal setting there was often one swordsmith overseeing many, so they would just use the name of their master. We unfortunately have not been able to translate the name on this example.
The other side of the tang bears the date when the blade was produced, in the standard long form indicating years into the current emperor's reign:
: 昭 和 二 十 年 四 月. This would be read: SHOWA (current reigning emperor) Ni-Juu Nen (20th year of reign - 1945) Shi Gatsu (4th Month - April).
The tang of the blade (nakago) is the typical futsu (normal) shape of the period, with a haagari (symmetrically round) tip, with the usual file marks, which help the tang stay secure in the handle. The two hole tang is also typical of this period's arsenal forged blades.
The blade mountings are the typical Pattern 1944 era Army style. Round steel tsuba (cross guard) with no decorations, a brass habaki (blade collar), with a blacked brass fuchi (grip collar). The scabbard lock is present and fully functional. The tsuka (handle) has brass Imperial Army cherry blossom menuki (grip decoration), and an unadorned black Kabuto-Gane (Pommel Cap). The Tsuka (handle) has an excellent faux stingray (Sa-Me) grip panels, covered with complete Ito (cloth binding), which is in excellent condition.
Attached to the pommel cap loop is a Brown colored Tassel. This signifies that this was carried by a "junior grade" officer, which would be a 2nd lieutenant rank.
The scabbard for this katana is also in great shape, with almost all of the original paint present. It matches and locks into the handle, and is of the correct 1944 pattern style, with simplified blacked brass fittings. Interestingly, there is Japanese writing painted onto one side of the scabbard, which we have not had the opportunity to translate. It is definitely quite old, and most likely was added during the closing days of WWII.
A great chance to pick up a real Japanese Shin-Gunto, with lots of research potential!
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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