Original WWII Japanese Type 98 Shin-Gunto Handmade Katana Sword named to Lt. Kondo Kenzo with Scabbard
Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased at a military auction, 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.
This sword is really quite exciting, as it has a rare high grade "perforated" crossguard, and the grip collar (fuchi) is named to the owner, who we have been able to identify! We even found a picture of them online! The characters on the fuchi are inlaid silver, and read 蔵巻藤近, which is read right to left "Kondo Kenzo". An online search turned up the following page and picture : Picture of Kondo Kenzo with Flag. The text under the picture reads : 昭和前期 近藤巻蔵少尉が出征する時に、徳富蘇峰が日の丸の国旗, which roughly translates to:
Early Showa Period
2nd Lt. Kondo Kenzo goes to war with a Japanese Good Luck Flag given by Tokutomi Soho
We are not entirely sure on the translation, but Lt. Kondo is clearly identified as being in the picture. We unfortunately have no way to verify this is the correct picture. The rank indicated is given as 少尉 (Shou-i) short for 陸軍少尉 (Rikugun-Shōi), or 2nd Lieutenant. This is definitely an Army sword, and the pictured officer is an army officer, not one in the IJA. Additionally, there is a maruni chigai takanoha (丸に違鷹羽) Mon on the Kabuto-gane. The crossed hawk feathers are associated with several famous clans, specially the Asano clan.
This really is a sword with impressive research potential!
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) with some ashi
- 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.
- The blade has a BO'HI (fuller) in the Shinogi-JI (blade flat), usually only seen on high grade swords. Sometimes these are added to remove a blade wound, or added on request from the purchaser.
Offered in very good condition, the blade is still mostly sharp and looks good. It does some show use, and there are some small dents and nicks surrounding a deeper chip about 10 inches from the tip. There are also some scuffs and other scratches from service. Still, the polish is well retained in many areas, so the blade characteristics an still be seen. Blade length is approximately 27 1/2 inches and overall length 38 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 rapid NOTARE (wave / swell), which is quite striking. 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. These include a rare perforated high grade 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 6 Seppa (spacers) around the cross guard to keep the fit tight, and all are inleted for the scabbard lock, which is fully functional. Some of these have number markings, but they are not matched. The blade collar (habaki) looks to be the standard silvered brass alloy.
The handle (tsuka) has an nice stingray (Sa-Me) grip, which is fully intact. The grip was re-wrapped (ito) post war, which was not done entirely correctly. There is a single wooden securing peg (mekugi) still present, however it is broken, and looks to be a replacement. The Scabbard (saya) is steel over wood, and in very good condition, with most of the original light 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 named to an identified soldier! This is a real USGI bring-back from WWII, ready to display and cherish!
Blade Length: 27 1/2"
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 38“
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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