Original WWII Japanese Type 98 Shin-Gunto Handmade Katana Sword by HIBINO KINMICHI with Steel Scabbard

Item Description

Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased at an estate sale, this is a great 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, and the tang of the blade is signed (Mei) with the characters 日 比 野 金 道, which is read HIBINO KINMICHI. In this case, their "Swordsmith" name was Kinmichi, while their real name was 日比野  一二, or Hibino Ichiji. Research indicates he was born on May 6 1917 and later died August 20 1945, very soon after the end of the war. Kinmichi was active during the Showa Period and worked at Seki arsenal in Gifu, Mino Province (美濃国), who stamped the blade with the arsenal proof (Seki). They made both arsenal forged and traditional blades, with the longer signature usually used on the higher grade examples, such as this sword.

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, and there are two holes present.

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

- 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)

- Visible HADA (grain) in the body of the blade and lamination in the temper line.

- Some very small WARE (lamination line) KIZU (blade wounds), which only happen on traditionally forged blades.

Offered in very good condition, the blade is still sharp and looks great. There are no nicks on the edge or dents, except for a tiny bend on the tip. Overall the polish on the blade is very good, with some areas of light staining and light oxidation, probably from contact with the scabbard. There are also some scuffs on the on the blade near the edge. Blade length is approximately 27 7/8 inches and overall length 39 1/4 inches. The katana has a handmade blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with Haagari (asymmetrical rounded) nakago-jiri (tang tip). 

The blade also has a proper kissaki (tip) with a clear yokote (division between body and tip) and boshi (tip temper line). The main edge Temper line (hamon) is fully visible, and is a very attractive TOURAN (billowing) with CHOJI (Clover Tree Flower) aspects, especially on the left side of the blade. Along the transition there are clear NIE crystals visible, with cloudy areas of NIOI, including some lines of ASHI. The body of the blade (JI) also shows hada (grain), which is the masame (straight) pattern.

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 8 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) looks to be the standard silvered brass alloy.

The handle (tsuka) has an nice shark skin shagreen grip, which is fully intact. It has a complete dark olive green Ito (cloth binding), which shows only light wear. There is a single wooden securing peg (mekugi) still present, which looks to be a replacement. The Scabbard (saya) is steel over wood, and in very good condition, with most of the original textured brown paint intact. It has only a few small dents and scrapes, and has the correct single hanger loop of the Type 98 style. The top fitting is inleted for the scabbard lock on the hilt, and the lock works correctly.

An incredible 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: 27 7/8"
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 39 1/4“
Scabbard Length: 30"

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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