Original WWII Japanese Type 98 Shin-Gunto Handmade Katana Sword dated 1942 by MASAYUKI with Leather Covered Steel Scabbard
Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased at military show, 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 濃 州 関 住 正 行 作, which is read NOSHU SEKI JU MASAYUKI SAKU. This roughly translates to "Masayuki made this at Seki in Mino Province". This smith's real name was 三輪 友雄 - Miwa Tomou, and they also signed swords with 関三輪 正行作 - SEKI MIWA MASAYUKI SAKU. Their name appears in the Seki Tanrensho Booklet printed in 1939, and they were 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 関 (Seki). They made both arsenal forged and traditional blades, and this is definitely of the latter type.
The other side of the tang bears the date when the blade was produced, in the standard long form indicating years into the current emperor's reign: 昭 和 十 七 年 三 月. This would be read: SHOWA (current reigning emperor) Juu-Nana Nen (17th year of reign - 1942) San-Gatsu (3rd Month - February).
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")
- 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 just a few small nicks in the blade edge, including one at the very tip. Overall the polish on the blade is very good, with some areas light staining, probably from contact with the scabbard. There are also some scuffs on the on the blade flat (shinogi-ji) near the spine (mune). Blade length is approximately 25 3/4 inches and overall length 37 1/4 inches. The katana has a handmade blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with Naagari (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 YAHAZU (notched) with GUNOME (zig-zag) aspects in some areas. Along the transition there are clear NIE crystals visible, with cloudy areas of NIOI, including some small lines of ASHI. The boshi is an OMARU (large circle) with turn back at the spine. 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 light brown Ito (cloth binding), however this unfortunately has degraded quite a bit, and is now torn and hanging off the tsuka in places. The paper under the ito can also be seen, which helps to give shape to the wrappings. There is a single wooden securing peg (mekugi) still present, which looks to be original, but was at some point had part broken off.
The Scabbard (saya) is steel over wood, however this itself is covered with a lovely well-aged leather field cover. It has as the correct single hanger loop of the Type 98 style, however due to the cover we cannot assess the condition of the scabbard, just the cover. The leather shrinks over time, and there is no longer any way to remove it. 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: 25 3/4"
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 37 1/4“
Scabbard Length: 30 1/4"
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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