Original WWII Japanese Type 98 Shin-Gunto Katana Sword by KANESHIGE with Steel Scabbard
Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased directly from the family of a WWII veteran, 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, 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 is a very nice example, though it does show much use from service on the fittings and blade.
The blade on this example was hand forged, and the tang of the blade is signed (Mei) with the characters 小 川 包 重 作 - OGAWA KANESHIGE SAKU, which means "Ogawa Kanishige Made This". The tang is also marked with a 関 stamp for SEKI Arsenal, which employed many smiths during the WWII era. Research indicates that this is a known Showa Era sword smith, whose real name was 小川 嘉市 Ogawa Kaichi. It was common for smiths to sometimes use their real surname with their "smith" name.
The blade is handmade and was expertly crafted by a sword maker, which is indicated by a few tell-tale characteristics that include:
- Holes in the tang are punched and not drilled.
- Two Holes in the tang, indicating it was refit at least once.
- Visible temper line ("hamon")
- Blade is signed on the tang by the maker ("Mei")
Offered in good condition, the blade is still mostly sharp, however there are some significant chips in the HA (edge), though they do not go through the hamon. The kissaki (point) also has a small chip. The overall polish is worn, and it is only near the blade collar that the temper line can be see. Blade length is approximately 25 inches and overall length 36 ¾ inches. The katana has a handmade arsenal marked blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with Naagari (asymmetrical rounded) nakago-jiri (tang tip). It has geometric kissaki (tip), though the yokote (division between the tip and blade) is worn away. Where the hamon (temper line) is visible, it is a very attractive NOTARE (Wave) type.
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 bronze alloy, maybe with some plating.
The handle (tsuka) has an nice stingray skin (Sa-Me) grip, which is fully intact. It has a complete Ito (cloth binding), which does show wear and age. There is a lot of worn in dirt and grease on the 1/3 closest to the cross guard. There is a single wooden securing peg (mekugi) still present, which looks to be original. The Scabbard (saya) is steel and in very nice condition, with much of the original paint intact. It has the correct single hanger loop of the Type 98 style, tough there are some "door close" dents near the sayajiri (scabbard tip fitting). The top fitting is inleted for the scabbard lock on the hilt.
While the number 22 is painted onto the blade's tang, there are not matching numbers on any of the other components, so that is probably from the first mounting that this scabbard had.
Overall in lovely service worn condition, 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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