Original WWII Japanese Type 98 Shin-Gunto Handmade Katana Sword by OKUMURA KANEMITSU with Scabbard & Tassel

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. It also has a very nice rank tassel attached to the pommel.

The blade on this example was hand forged, and the tang of the blade is signed (Mei) with the characters 奥 村 金 光, read as OKUMURA KANEMITSU. We have found some other examples of this smith's work from the Showa period, with Japanese paperwork, so they definitely forged examples in the traditional manner. Only traditionally forged blades can be admitted to Japan, as they are "works of art", and not weapons. We have confirmed the signature with other examples of his work. There is not much information out there on them, and examples of their work are rare.

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)

- Blade is signed on the tang by the maker ("Mei") as well as dated.

- 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.

- Visible KIZU (blade wounds) in the form of WARE lamination lines. Only traditionally forged blades have these.

Offered in very good condition, the blade is still sharp and looks great. There are no nicks on the edge or dents that we can see, just some light scuffing in areas. Overall the polish on the blade is very good, with some areas of light staining oxidation, probably from contact with the scabbard. Blade length is approximately 26 inches and overall length 37 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 SUGU (straight) with just a bit of NOTARE (Wave/swell) aspects. Along the transition there are clear NIE crystals visible, with cloudy areas of NIOI in the body of the hamon, and a LOT of activity. The body of the blade (JI) also shows hada (grain), which is the AYASUGI (undulating) pattern. The tip temper line (boshi) is visible, but the "turnback" at the spine is not clear.

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 5 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  brass alloy.

The handle (tsuka) has an nice Sharkskin shagreen grip, which is fully intact. It has a complete brown Ito (cloth binding), which shows moderate staining and 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 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.

Attached to the pommel cap loop is a Brown and Blue colored Tassel, which has somewhat worn from use and age. This signifies that this was carried by a "company grade" officer, which would be a Lieutenant or Captain rank. It is in good condition and totally correct.

An incredible handmade Japanese Type 98 Shin-gunto by a rare maker, this is a real USGI bring-back from WWII, ready to display and cherish!

Blade Length: 26"
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 37“
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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