Original WWII Japanese Army Officer Type 98 Shin-Gunto Katana with Handmade Double Temper Line Blade & Steel Scabbard

Item Description

Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased at large military show, this is a fantastic USGI Bring-Back wartime production High Grade 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 are punched and not drilled.

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

- Blade has a geometric tip (kissaki) with a yokote separating the body of the blade from the end, and shows with a correct Boshi (tip temper line)

- Blade has visible grain "hada" in the body of the blade by the edge (ji)

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

Offered in very good condition, the blade is still quite sharp and looks great. The polish is in very good condition, and the aspects of the hamon are still easy to see. There are some light scuffs and speckled light staining near the tip, but otherwise it's lovely. The edge is still VERY sharp, so handle with care. There are no bends, dents, chips, or other edge issues that we can see. Blade length is approximately 26 1/8 inches and overall length of 37 1/7 inches. The katana has a handmade blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with a Haagari (asymmetrically rounded) nakago-jiri.

The temper line is still very clear, and is the first time we have had one that is a MUNEYAKI (棟焼) type, which has a HAMON (刃文) present on the main edge as well as on areas of the spine (MUNE). This is a very rare type, and we have only seen a few examples. The effect is definitely quite striking! The shape of the hamon is a very attractive TOURAN MIDARE (濤瀾 乱れ - irregular high billowing wave), which shimmers in the light. Along the transition there are clear NIE crystals visible, with cloudy areas of NIOI in the body of the hamon. There is a ton of internal activity, with the crystallization easily visible to the naked eye.

The tip temper line (BOSHI) is visible, and looks to be a HAKIKAKE (brush stroke) type, which also shows a bit of a turn back. The yokote is is still clear, and the blade has a proper geometric kissaki (tip). The blade body (JI) shows some grain (HATA), which is the ITAME (wood grain) type. There are also some blade wounds (KIZU) including WARE (lamination lines) as well as some FUKURE (carbon pits), only possible on traditionally made blades. This is really a fantastic looking blade! With the long delay for traditional togishi polishing, blades like this that are ready to display are definitely in demand.

The blade mountings (koshirae) are in very good condition, and are the classic "high grade" WWII era Type 98 Army Shin-Gunto style, browned brass with gilt accents. These include a perforated rounded "quince" shaped tsuba (cross guard), only seen on high grade fittings. There are also brass Imperial Army cherry blossom menuki (grip decorations), and a nice Kabuto-Gane (Pommel Cap), which is missing the loop. 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 Seppa (spacers) around the cross guard to keep the fit tight. Some are inlet for a scabbard lock, but there is not one installed on the handle. Also the Tsuba and some of the seppa are marked with matching number 六 一 八 (618), so they were originally part of a matched set.

The blade collar (HABAKI) is a lovely silver example, with a lovely "rain" texture on the lower half. This is definitely not a WWII production collar, and probably is from an earlier fitting of the blade. The handle (tsuka) has a great stingray skin (Sa-Me) grip, with the correct golden brown Ito (cloth binding). The wrapping is in great shape, with just a bit of wear, and no major staining or fraying. There is a single wooden securing peg (mekugi) still present, which is a post war replacement.

The Scabbard (saya) is steel over wood, and is in excellent condition, with almost all of the original paint intact. It has a nice brown textured paint job, which is just lovely. It has the correct single hanger loop of the Type 98 style, and the top fitting is inlet for a scabbard lock It does not have any major dents or other damage, and is definitely one of the best scabbards we have seen.

A fantastic handmade Japanese Type 98 Shin-gunto with a great handmade double temper line blade, this is a real USGI bring-back from WWII, ready to display and cherish!

Blade Length: 26 1/8"
Blade Style: Shinogi-Zukuri Katana
Overall length: 37 1/7“
Scabbard Length: 29 1/2"

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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