Original WWII Japanese Type 98 Shin-Gunto Katana Sword by TAKEHISA with Steel Scabbard and Tassel - dated 1944

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased directly from a collector, this is a very nice 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 both signed by the maker as well as dated 1944. 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 is a very nice example, and shows only mild use, without much damage or wear.

The blade on this example was hand forged at arsenal, most likely at Seki, and the tang of the blade is signed (Mei) with the characters 武 久 - TAKEHISA. There is not much information available on this smith, except that they were active during the Showa period.

The opposite side of the tang is marked with the date, which is in the standard Japanese format: 昭 和 十 九 年 春 (Showa Juu Kyu Nen Haru). This date system is based on the year of the current reigning emperor, so this sword was made in the 19th (Juu Hachi) year (Nen) of Showa Emperor Hirohito's reign, 1944 in the western calendar, in the Spring season (haru). This was considered most auspicious time for forging swords.

The blade is handmade and was expertly crafted by a master sword maker, which is indicated by a few tell-tale characteristics that include:

- Single Hole in the tang is punch and not drilled.

- Visible temper line ("hamon")

- Blade is signed on the tang by the maker ("Mei")

Offered in great condition, the blade is still sharp and just have a few small nicks, as far as we can see. Overall the polish on the blade is good, with some areas of light staining from oxidation in a few areas, probably from it not being cleaned after being handled. There is some wear on the blade tip (kissaki) that has made the temper line impossible to see. Blade length is approximately 26 1/4 inches and overall length 36 1/4 inches.  The katana has a handmade arsenal made blade with an asymmetrically rounded (haagari) tang, and a proper geometric kissaki (tip) with a clear yokote (division between body and tip). Temper line (hamon) is visible, and is of the straight (sugu) type.

The blade mountings are the classic later WWII era Type 98 Army Shin-Gunto style, brass with gilt accents. Rounded 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 4 Seppa (spacers) around the cross guard to keep the fit tight, and all are inleted for the scabbard lock. The lock itself unfortunately has lost the "hook" on the end, so it can no longer lock into the scabbard. The blade collar (habaki) looks to be copper alloy, with some nickle plating.

The handle (tsuka) has an nice faux stingray skin (Sa-Me) grip, which is in great shape. It has a complete Ito (cloth binding), which shows almost no wear. The single bamboo securing peg is still present, but is most likely a replacement. The Scabbard (saya) is steel and in very nice condition,with much of the original paint intact. It seems to be pretty much dent free, and has the correct single hanger loop of the Type 98 style. The top fitting is inleted for the scabbard lock on the hilt. There is some rusting around the very end, probably due to water exposure.

Attached to the pommel cap loop is a Brown and Blue colored Tassel, which has somewhat discolored to look greenish. This signifies that this was carried by a "company grade" officer, which would be a Lieutenant or Captain rank.

The fittings on this sword, including the the Seppa, Tsuba, Tsuka, and Fuchi, all bear matching number 68. This matches the painted Japanese numerals on the dated side of the tang, 六 八  - 6 8. It's normal to see mixtures of Japanese and Western numbers on the fittings of Army Shin-Gunto. This means that these fittings were made specifically to fit this blade, and are not replacements.

Overall a great display piece, a real USGI-bring back from WWII, ready to display and cherish!

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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