Original WWII Japanese Army Officer Type 98 Shin-Gunto Katana Sword by NOBUKUNI with Steel Scabbard

Item Description

Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased at large military show, this is a very nice USGI Bring-Back wartime production Japanese officer Katana in the Type 98 Shin-Gunto (九八式軍刀 kyūhachi-shiki guntō) setting. These type of fittings (koshirae) are slightly simplified compared to the earlier Type 94. The blade tang 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 信 國, read as NOBUKUNI. We ere not able to find much about this smith, except that they were active during the Showa era and worked in Akita, what was previously Dewa (出羽) Province. This smith look to have made both arsenal forged and traditional blades. We have confirmed the signature (Oshigata) with other examples of his work.

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 geometric Yokote at the tip (kissaki) with a faint Boshi (tip temper line)

Offered in very good 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. There is however some scuffing on the surface from use on the last 6 inches or so of the blade. There are also signs of light staining near the spine of the blade close to the guard, now polished out from cleaning. The temper line has become a bit faint, showing that it has been cleaned and seen service since the last polish. Blade length is approximately 25 3/4 inches and overall length of 35 3/4 inches.

The katana has a handmade blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with a Naagari (asymmetrical rounded) nakago-jiri. The temper line is visible in the light, and is a very attractive and active NOTARE MIDARE - Irregular wave / swell shape. 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 visible, but faint, so we cannot see what shape it is. The yokote is is still clear, and the blade has a proper geometric kissaki (tip).

The blade mountings are the classic later WWII era Type 98 Army Shin-Gunto style, brass with gilt accents. Rounded "quince" shaped tsuba (cross guard) 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 7 metal Seppa (spacers) around the cross guard to keep the fit tight. The tsuba and seppa are all inlet for the scabbard lock, which is still present, though the scabbard no longer grips it securely. The blade collar (habaki) is brass, and is the standard shape usually seen on WWII production blades.

The handle (tsuka) has an nice stingray skin (Sa-Me) grip, with the correct Ito (cloth binding). The binding however is black, and looks to have been re-wrapped during or after WWII. The original army menuki were lost, and instead there is a single one remaining, which is in the shape of a bow and quiver. There is a single wooden securing peg (mekugi) still present, which looks to be a post war replacement.

The Scabbard (saya) is steel over wood, and in very good condition, with much of the original paint intact. There is definitely sign of use however, with some peppered oxidation and wear. It has the correct single hanger loop of the Type 98 style, and the top fitting is inleted for the scabbard lock on the hilt, though the top fitting is worn, and no longer grips the lock correctly. It does not have any major dents or other damage.

A great service used handmade Japanese Type 98 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: 35 3/4“
Scabbard Length: 29 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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