Original WWII Japanese Type 98 Shin-Gunto Handmade Katana Sword by NOBUMITSU with Field Replaced Handle
Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased at a large military auction, this is a great USGI Bring-Back wartime production Japanese officer Katana in a partial 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. This sword definitely shows signs of use in the field, and at some point lost the entire handle (tsuka) was lost, and replaced by a leather covered wooden handle. 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 関 佐 光 信 光 作, which is read SEKI SAKO NOBUMITSU SAKU. This basically translates to "Sako Nobumitsu" made this at Seki. In this case, their "Swordsmith" name was Nobumitsu, while their real name was 佐光 信一, or Sako Shinichi. Combinations of their real and swordsmith names are common for some smiths, including this "Nobumitsu". There are also examples with additional characters before and after, but this is a complete and correct MEI for this smith. They were active during the Showa Period and worked at Seki arsenal in Gifu, Mino Province (美濃国).
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)
- The Blade body has clear grain, or "hada"
- 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)
Offered in very good service used condition, the blade is still mostly sharp and looks great. The edge does show some small nicks, chips, and other light wear, and there is some chipping right at the tip. Overall the polish on the blade is good, with some light oxidation and staining in places. There are also some minor scuffs on the blade. Blade length is approximately 26 1/2 inches and overall length 39 inches.
The katana has a handmade blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with a Kuri-Jiri(symmetrical rounded) nakago-jiri (tang tip). It has a proper kissaki (tip) with a clear yokote (division between body and tip). Temper line (hamon) is mostly visible, and is a very nice GUNOME MIDARE (Irregular Zig Zag) type, which also has some TOURAN (billowing) aspects. There is crystallization visible as well, showing NIE crystallization at the edge, with NIOI cloudiness and other activity in the hamon. The blade body (JI) also shows grain (HADA), which looks like MASAME, or straight grain.
The blade mountings are a partial later WWII era Type 98 Army Shin-Gunto style, with a rounded "quince" shaped tsuba (cross guard). The blade collar (habaki) looks to be the standard gold colored bronze alloy. All of the other original fittings are missing, and the Tsuka is a straight leather over wooden type, which looks to have been held on a cross pin under the cover. This was however broken when the handle was removed later. When fitted with the handle, the cross guard is loose.
The Scabbard (saya) is steel covered wood, and is in somewhat worn condition. It looks to have been field repainted green during service, at at some point after that, lost the sayajiri (scabbard tip fitting). It does not have any major dents, and really goes well with the overall condition of the katana.
A very nice Japanese Type 98 Shin-gunto by a well-known maker, refitted in the field for further use during WWII. This is a real USGI bring-back from WWII, ready to display and cherish!
Blade Length: 26 1/2"
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 39“
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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