Original WWII Japanese Type 98 Shin-Gunto Katana Sword by KANEMUNE with Steel Scabbard - dated 1943

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 1943. 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, as indicated by the partially stamped 関 character above the hole in the tang of the blade. It is also signed (Mei) with the characters 兼 宗 (KANEMUNE). Research indicates that this smith's real name was 福本 小市 (Fukumoto Koichi), though we have not been able to find out much more. There were a lot of smiths working at Seki, and little information survived about most.

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 八 年 九 月.  This would be read: SHOWA (current reigning emperor) Juu Hachi Nen (18th year of reign - 1943) Kyuu Gatsu (9th Month - September).

The blade is handmade and was expertly crafted in the non-traditional fashion at arsenal by a sword maker. It does not appear to have a true temper line or other artifacts indicating that it is a laminated steel blade. All however were hand made, regardless of the process.

Offered in very good used condition, the blade is still partly sharp, but does show wear, with light denting and chipping over much of the edge. Overall the polish on the blade is worn, with areas of light staining from oxidation. Blade length is approximately 26 inches and overall length 37 1/4 inches.  The katana has a handmade arsenal made blade with a cut (kiri) tang, and a proper geometric kissaki (tip). The tang may have had a defect, and as this was a standard grade katana, it was just cut off at an angle.

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), though it is split a bit. 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, which is present but does not grip anymore due to wear. The blade collar (habaki) looks to be brass alloy, maybe with some gilding.

The handle (tsuka) has an nice stingray skin (Sa-Me) grip, which is in great shape. It has a complete Ito (cloth binding), which shows little to no wear, though it is not the same quality material as usually seen. There is a single bamboo securing peg (mekugi) still present in the mekugi-ana (peg hole). The Scabbard (saya) is steel and in very nice condition,with much of the original paint intact. It does shoe some dents and definitely has wear, with the correct single hanger loop of the Type 98 style. The top fitting is inleted for the scabbard lock on the hilt, however the screw retaining it is missing, so it can fall off.

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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