Original WWII Japanese Type 98 Shin-Gunto Handmade Katana Sword by OSAWA KANEHISA with Leather Covered Scabbard

Item Description

Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased at large military show, this is a great USGI Bring-Back wartime production 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 in the traditional manner, and the tang of the blade is signed (Mei) with the characters 濃 刕 住 大 澤 兼 久 作 - NOSHU JU OSAWA KANEHISA SAKU, or "OSAWA KANEHISA made this in Mino Province (Noshu)." Research indicates that this smith's real name was 大沢 勘一 (Osawa Kanichi), so in this case "Osawa" was their family name, and "Kanehisa" their "swordsmith name." We have seen many other smiths sign their swords in this fashion. Their name appears in the Seki Tanrensho Booklet printed in 1939, and there is also their KOKUIN personal seal under the signature, which reads 兼 久 (KANEHISA). We have confirmed the signature (Oshigata) with other examples of his work.

Kanehisa was active during the Showa Period and worked at Seki arsenal in Gifu, Mino Province (美濃国), and is stamped (SEKI) on the tang. They look to have made both arsenal forged and traditional blades. We have confirmed the signature (Oshigata) with other examples of his work. In 1942, Kurihara Hikosaburo ranked about 400 Showa Era smiths, and graded them into 7 different levels with 1 being the highest. Kaneyoshi is rated at level 7, 下作 (GE SAKU or Lower Work) = 良工の列 (Ryoko no Retsu or Good work). Blades by this smith are definitely better than most Seki arsenal smiths, most of whom were not even rated.

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.

- Vibrant 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.

Offered in very good lightly used condition, the blade is still sharp and looks great. The edge of the blade is dent free, with just a bit of bending at the very time and minor scuffing from use. Overall the polish on the blade is very good, but it has been cleaned during service and possibly after with an uchiko ball and powder, which has had some aspects faint, such as the hada. Blade length is approximately 26 1/2 inches and overall length 37 7/8 inches. The katana has a handmade blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with an Iriyamagata (asymmetrical pointed) 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), which are a bit faint due to cleaning. The main edge Temper line (hamon) is fully visible, and is a very attractive YAHAZU MIDARE (irregular notched) shape. Along the transition there are clear NIE crystals visible, with cloudy areas of NIOI in the body of the hamon, and some nice activity. The body of the blade (JI) also shows hada (grain), which is a faint MASAME (straight) pattern. The tip temper line (boshi) is visible, and is the OMARU (large turnback) type.

The blade mountings are the classic WWII era Type 98 Army Shin-Gunto style, brass with gilt accents, which have unfortunately worn away over the years. Rounded "quince" (mokko gata) shaped tsuba (cross guard), which has a hole made in one side to attach to a scabbard lock strap. There are also the correct 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 2 metal Seppa (spacers) around the cross guard to keep the fit tight. The blade collar (habaki) is copper, and is the standard shape usually seen on WWII production blades.

The handle (tsuka) has an nice stingray skin (Sa-Me) grip, with the correct Ito (cloth binding). There is some wear to the wrapping, which has stained and made the wrapping fray a bit, but there are no major tears. It definitely looks to have seen use during WWII, and possibly later. There is a bent copper hanger through the pommel cap, , as well as a single wooden securing peg (mekugi) still present, both of which which look to original.

The Scabbard (saya) is a standard wood type, covered with a leather field cover, which has a lovely tan color. It has a single hanger loop, as well as a leather strap with a buckle that wraps around a hole in the tsuba to keep the blade in the scabbard. The leather cover is in good shape, showing light wear from service and decades of age and storage.

An incredible handmade 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: 26 1/2"
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 37 7/8“
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 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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