Original WWII Japanese Navy Officer P1937 Kai-Gunto Handmade Katana by YOSHITSUGU with Sharkskin Scabbard
Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased recently from a private auction, this is a very nice wartime High Grade Japanese Naval officer Katana in the Pattern 1937 Kai-Gunto setting. A Kai-Guntō (海軍刀, naval sword) is a weapon and symbol of rank used by the Imperial Japanese Navy during the WWII Period. This is a very nice example, and features a traditionally made and maker signed blade, something we rarely see in Naval fittings. It still has the original brown tassel, which was used for all Naval officer grades.
The blade on this example was hand forged in the traditional manner, and the tang of the blade is signed (Mei) with the characters 吉 次, which are read YOSHITSUGU. This smith's real name was 吉田 仁郎 - Yoshida Jirou, and their name appears in the Seki Tanrensho Booklet printed in 1939. Kazunori was active during the Showa Period and worked at Seki arsenal in Gifu, Mino Province (美濃国). 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 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 十 九 年. This would be read: SHOWA (current reigning emperor) Juu-Kyu Nen (19th year of reign - 1944).
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)
- Visible Grain ("hada") in the body of the blade ("ji)
- Blade is signed on the tang by the maker ("Mei")
- Blade has a proper geometric Yokote at the tip (kissaki) with a Boshi (tip temper line)
The blade is very good condition, showing only light wear, with no dents or chips except for a small bend at the very tip of the blade. Polish is in good very good shape, though there are signs of light staining having been cleaned off with traditional Uchiko powder, made from the finest grit polishing stones. This has made some aspects of the blade faint. Blade length is 26 inches and overall length 37 inches. It features a Futsu 普通 (regular) shaped Nakago (Tang) with a Naagari (asymmetrical rounded) nakago-jiri (tang tip).
Unlike most Kai-Gunto swords we see, this example has a hand-made traditionally made blade, complete with a vibrant temper line (hamon). The blade has a true hamon (wave), or temper line, which is visible in the light along the entire ege of the blade. The shape is a very attractive SUGUHA (straight) with Just a bit of NOTARE (wave swell) aspects that are very stretched out. There is visible NIE crystallization at the edge of the temper line, as well as the correct NIOI cloudiness in the hamon. The blade body (JI) also has MASAME HADA (straight grain) which can be seen under the light. There are some areas of wear and light scuffing, but the kissaki (tip) still shows a crisp yokote with visible Boshi (tip temper line), which is the OMARU (large turn back) type.
Japanese Kai-Gunto naval officers swords are somewhat rare, given that they usually went down with the ships. This particular example is definitely high grade, with a hand made blade, and excellent fittings.
It has a heavy round tsuba (cross guard), with 4 Seppa (spacers) and two O-Seppa (Large spacers) around the tsuba that are large and highly stylized, correct for the Kai-Gunto pattern. All of these are non-magnetic, with the tsuba and O-seppa being made from blacked copper. The tsuka (handle) has two gold highlighted Cherry-Blossom menuki (grip decorations), and a nice brass Kabuto-Gane (End Cap) with a brass loop through the end. There is a single wooden securing peg still present, which looks to be original, however part of it is missing. The grip has an excellent black lacquered stingray skin (Sa-Me) under the complete& brown colored Ito (cloth binding) with fine brass decorative collar (fuchi).
Condition of the blade, scabbard and fittings is very good, indicating light use, though the wrapping does show a bit of dirt and staining. There also is some light oxidation and plating loss on the various metal fittings. As typical of the pattern, Cherry Blossom motifs appear on many of the fittings. The handle is tight to the blade, with secure spacers and no wobble in the tsuba.
The Wood scabbard (saya) is wrapped in lacquered sharkskin shagreen, and has all gilt brass fittings, with much of the gilding remaining. As is typical, the glue holding the fittings in place has weakened over the decades, and all are now somewhat loose on the scabbard, especially the koiguchi (throat fitting), which can fall right off. The sharkskin covering is still in great shape, with most of the lacquer intact. The seam does show some loss of lacquer and splitting, caused when the skin slowly shrinks over the decades. Both hanger rings are still present, making this a really great example of a high grade scabbard.
Really a great example of a high grade Imperial Japanese Navy Kai-Gunto, handmade by a known smith and complete with its original sharkskin covered scabbard. These are getting hard to find in any condition.
Blade Length: 26"
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 37“
Scabbard Length: 29 3/4"
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 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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