Original WWII Japanese RJT Shin-Gunto Handmade Katana by HIDEMINE with Tassel & Named Capture Tag - dated 1944
Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased at a large military show, this is a fantastic USGI Bring-Back wartime production high grade Japanese officer Katana in the Rikugun Jumei Tosho fittings, complete with a translated capture tag. These were a high grade ofvariation of the 臨時正式 (Rinji Seikishi) or "Special Contingency" version of the Type 98 Shin-Gunto (九八式軍刀 kyūhachi-shiki guntō) setting, sometimes called the "Type 3". They feature a textured lacquered scabbard, as well as a blade lock that has releases on both sides of the crossguard, not seen on the "regular" version of the Rinji Seishiki. The cross screws through the handle, instead of the usual wooden or bamboo pegs, is another change made.
These fittings, while often called the P-1944, were in fact designed in 1938, but didn't really see much use until 1940. They were designed to be more robust than the regular Type 98 fittings, as well as less expensive and time consuming to produce. However the standard Type 98 fittings continued to be produced concurrently until almost the end of the war. The blade tang on this RJT Shin-Gunto is signed by the maker, and is 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 Rikugun Jumei Tosho were swordsmiths certified by the Army headquarters of Japan during wartime. Their names first appear in "Rikugun Jumei Tosho Meibo (1933)" and it is believed that they produced blades for highly ranked officers. Besides Yasukuni tosho and Minatogawa tosho, these smiths all produced Gendaito (traditionally made blades), which should be discerned from Showato (arsenal forged blades). A star stamp was marked on the blade tang when passed by Rikugun Shinsa Inspection.
This sword comes complete with two fabric capture tags, which are both hand written, both bearing identical information. What makes these both great is that they have FULL translations of the Japanese, which gives the name and address of the person they were turned in by! This is listed on the tags as 准尉 内田 忠次郎, read as JUN-I UCHIDA CHUJIRO, or "Warrant Officer Chujiro Ichida" in the Western style. The entire translated text is as follows:
180 OTAKE. OBUKURO
WARRANT CHUNJIRO. UCHIDA
We have never had capture tags with such detailed information before.
The blade on this example was hand forged, and the tang of the blade bears the star stamp of the RJT inspection. It is signed (Mei) with the characters 秀 峯 造 之, which is read as HIDEMINE TSUKURU KORE, or "HIDEMINE made this". The characters are written in the very flowing "grass writing" style of Japanese script, which can be very difficult to decipher. We have compared the tang to other blades and this is definitely a blade by HIDEMINE. Above the mei is the RJT "Star" marking.
This smith's real name is 小島 忠夫, read as KOJIMA TADAO. They are on the RJT list, and made high quality blades. He is however probably most well known as being the son of highly regarded Showa Era smith KOJIMA KAMETA (小島亀太), more often referred to as "Genbusai Kojima Shigefusa" (玄武 小島 重房), or “Zuihō Shigefusa” (瑞峯重房). Zuihō was ranked 貴品の列 "kihin no retsu" by Akihide, the third highest rank during the Showa period. For more information on the relationship between ZUIHO and HIDEMINE please see this thread on the Nihonto Message Board: RJT Smith Hidemine.
The blade is also dated on the tang with: 昭 和 甲 申 夏, which is read SHO-WA KINOE-SARU NATSU, or the Summer of 1944. This is in the Japanese "Zodiac" format, which is a 60 year repeating cycle involving Twelve animals and the Five elements. Mizu means "Wood" and Saru means "Monkey", so 1944 was the year of the Monkey with the element Wood.
The blade is handmade and was expertly crafted by a sword maker, which is indicated by a few tell-tale characteristics that include:
- Multiple Holes in the tang are punched and not drilled.
- Visible temper line ("hamon")
- Blade is signed on the tang by the maker ("Mei"), and dated on the opposite side
- Blade has a proper geometric Yokote at the tip (kissaki) with a faint Boshi (tip temper line)
Offered in very good condition, the blade is still sharp and looks great. There are just a few tiny nicks or dents on the edge. It has however been cleaned several times, which has made the temper line somewhat faint, and so it must be held in the light and viewed by the reflection. Blade length is approximately 25 3/4 inches and overall length of 37 inches.
The katana has a handmade blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with a Kuri-Jiri (rounded) nakago-jiri (tang tip). It has a proper kissaki (tip) with a faint yokote (division between body and tip). The hamon type looks to be a slow MIDARE (irregular) type with a lot of activity. NIE Crystals are visible on the transition to the hamon, and there is NIOI cloudiness visible with the temper line. The HADA (Grain) is not visible in the blade, but the BOSHI (tip temper line) is, and is of the KOMARU (small turnback) type. A redone finish polish by a trained togishi sword polisher could really bring this blade back to life.
The blade mountings are the typical Rikugun Jumei Tosho Army style, similar to the P-1944. Round iron tsuba (cross guard) with no decorations, a plated copper habaki (blade collar), with an iron fuchi (grip collar). There are three seppa (spacers) surrounding the tsuba, but only two are inlet for the scabbard lock, as is the tsuba. The hole in the fuchi where the lock would be has been plugged, possibly at arsenal, and we cannot tell if a scabbard lock was ever installed.
The tsuka (handle) has brass Imperial Army cherry blossom menuki (grip decoration), and an unadorned black Kabuto-Gane (Pommel Cap), with a hanger ring. The SAME (handle covering) is not Stingray, but burlap dipped in wax to help with grip as well as water resistance. This type of covering is actually a hallmark of RJT swords by Nagamitsu, but it was used by other smiths as well. Wrapped around this is a complete Ito (cloth binding), which looks to have been lacquered, as many RJT pattern handles were to protect against rotting. The handle is also slightly wider at the guard end, similar to "samurai" style fittings.
An interesting feature of the RJT fittings is that the handle is actually held on by two iron screws, instead of the usual wood or bamboo mekugi (pegs). On this handle however the screws have been lost, and two wooden pegs have been substituted, which are most likely post war. The original steel nuts for the metal screws can still be be seen.
Attached to the pommel cap loop is a faded Brown and Blue colored Tassel, which definitely shows period wear. This signifies that this was carried by a "company grade" officer, which would be a Lieutenant or Captain rank. It shows signs of real use in the field, which is just great! It is completely correct for a 准尉 (Jun-i or Warrant Officer) rank in the Imperial Japanese Army, though it is possible that Uchida was handing in the sword for a superior officer.
The sword looks to possibly have been produced without the textured wooden scabbard due to wartime constraints. It's also possible it was lost and replaced, but the hilt fittings suggest it has always had this type of scabbard. Whatever the reason, it is now housed in a standard black lacquered wooden scabbard, which is covered with an aged and worn leather field cover, laced at the top. The scabbard and cover are in very good condition, but definitely do show wear from service. The grommets at the top have mostly rotted out, so some of the lacing has pulled through. There is a brass hanger ring attached to a brass base.
An incredible Japanese RJT Shin-gunto by HIDEMINE with loads of period wear and PATINA, this is a real USGI bring-back from WWII, ready to display and cherish!
Blade Length: 25 3/4”
Blade Style: Katana "Shinogi Zukuri"
Overall length: 37"
Scabbard Length: 28"
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 multiple pieces of 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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