Original WWII Japanese Army Officer Type 98 Shin-Gunto Katana with Handmade Blade & Aluminum Scabbard

Item Description

Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased from a private collector, 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 in the traditional fashion, most likely in the 19th century during the late Edo period (江戸時代, Edo jidai) or Tokugawa period (徳川時代, Tokugawa jidai) of Japanese history. This is the period between 1603 and 1867, when Japan was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country's 300 regional daimyo. The tang shows an aged patina with some rust scaling, and the yasirume file marks are worn. it also has two holes in the tang (mekugi-ana) that are close together, so it was refit during its life.

It was a common practice for swords to be passed down for generations, particularly ones that were of high quality. These would be re-polished and re-fit numerous times, as steel was precious and swords were expensive. This continued up into WWII, which is how this blade found it's way into standard WWII "Shin-Gunto" fittings, with a locking scabbard. There also was an official Japanese program during the war for families with no sons to donate their swords towards the war effort.

The tang is unsigned 無名 (mumei), or "anonymous", however it is certainly handmade in the traditional fashion. Many excellent blades do not have a signature, and the presence (or absence) of one has no relation to how it was forged, or the quality.

The blade is handmade and was expertly crafted by a sword maker, which is indicated by a few tell-tale characteristics that include:

- Holes in the tang re punched and not drilled.

- Visible temper line ("hamon") with crystallization visible (Nie and Nioi)

- Tang shows significant age and past removed rust and wear.

- Grain (hada) visible in the body of the blade, with lamination lines visible.

- Blade has kizu, or "wounds" in areas, only possible with laminated steel.

Offered in very good condition, the blade is still somewhat sharp and looks good. There is some wear to the edge, and it has a few dents and chips. It has also been cleaned several times since its last polish, which has made aspects of the blade such as the hamon hard to see, and even harder to photograph. It also has some light oxidation on the surface of the last three inches of the blade. Blade length is approximately 28 inches and overall length of 37 3/4 inches.

The katana has a handmade blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) ending in an Iriyamagata (asymmetrical pointed) nakago-jiri (tang tip). The temper line is visible in the light, and is a very attractive and active combination of a CHOJI (clover tree flower) and YAHAZU (notched) 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. There are blade wounds visible, mostly WARE (lamination lines), only possible with traditionally made blades. The blade does show HADA (grain), and it is of the straight type. Due to the oxidation on the end of the blade, the YOKOTE and BOSHI are no longer visible.

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) with brass Imperial Army cherry blossom menuki (grip decoration), 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 6 Seppa (spacers) around the cross guard to keep the fit tight, and all are inleted for the scabbard lock, which is fully functional. The blade collar (habaki) is copper, and is the standard shape usually seen on WWII production blades.

The handle (tsuka) has a great stingray skin (Sa-Me) grip, with the correct golden brown Ito (cloth binding). The wrapping shows only light wear, with just a few stains and areas of soiling. There is a single wooden securing peg (mekugi) still present, which is a post war replacement.

The Scabbard (saya) on this example is lightweight aluminum over wood and in very good condition, with most of the original textured brown paint intact. Aluminum scabbards are usually only seen on high grade blades, such as this one. There are some areas where the paint is gone, and the aluminum underneath oxidized, but overall this is a really good scabbard. There are no dents, which is definitely rare on the softer aluminum shell. 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, which is fully functional.

A great handmade Japanese Type 98 Shin-gunto with an older blade and rare aluminum scabbard, this is a real USGI bring-back from WWII, ready to display and cherish!

Blade Length: 28"
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 37 3/4“
Scabbard Length: 30 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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