Original WWII Japanese Type 98 Shin-Gunto Katana Sword by KINMICHI with Scabbard - dated 1943
Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased at a 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 金 道, which is read KINMICHI. This swordsmith's real name was 日比野 一二, or Hibino Ichiji. Research indicates he was born on May 6 1917 and later died August 20 1945, very soon after the end of the war. Kinmichi was active during the Showa Period and worked at Seki arsenal in Gifu, Mino Province (美濃国). They made both arsenal forged and traditional blades.
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 十 月. This would be read: SHOWA (current reigning emperor) Juu-Hachi Nen (18th year of reign - 1943) Juu-Gatsu (10th Month - October). The markings have been highlighted with white to make them easier to see.
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.
- Blade is signed on the tang by the maker ("Mei") as well as dated.
- Visible HADA (grain) in the body of the blade.
Offered in very good condition, the blade is still sharp and looks great. There are however some bends and nicks on the edge, so it does look to have seen some use. The polish on the blade is good, though it does look to have had some surface oxidation previously, which was then most likely buffed off, which unfortunately has made most of the aspects of the blade impossible to see, including the yokote and hamon. Only under the habaki can the original polish be seen, with the correctly burnished shinogi-ji, and masame (straight) hada (grain) on the ji (blade edge). Blade length is approximately 26 inches and overall length 37 1/2 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 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 4 Seppa (spacers) around the cross guard to keep the fit tight, and all are inleted for the scabbard lock, which unfortunately has the end catch broken off. The blade collar (habaki) looks to be the standard brass alloy.
The handle (tsuka) has an nice shark skin shagreen grip, which is fully intact. It has a complete dark olive green Ito (cloth binding), which shows light war and staining. There is a single wooden securing peg (mekugi) still present, which looks to be a replacement. The Scabbard (saya) is steel over wood, and is in good condition, with much of the original textured brown paint intact. It has some dents, and definitely shows wear to the paint, as well as light oxidation. The retaining screws for the throat fitting are missing, so it is loose. The scabbard has the correct single hanger loop of the Type 98 style.
A very nice 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: 26"
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 37 1/2“
Scabbard Length: 28 3/4"
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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