Original WWII Japanese Type 98 Shin-Gunto Katana Sword by MASANORI with Steel Scabbard - dated 1944
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 正 則 (MASANORI). Research indicates that this smith's real name was 野呂 栄吉 (Noro Eikichi), 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 九 年 十 二 月. This would be read: SHOWA (current reigning emperor) Juu Kyu Nen (19th year of reign - 1944) Juu Ni Gatsu (12th Month - December).
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.
- Visible temper line ("hamon")
- Blade is signed on the tang by the maker ("Mei") as well as dated.
Offered in great condition, the blade is still sharp and only has some small nicks on the kissaki (point). Overall the polish on the blade is good, with some areas of light staining from oxidation on the edge in a few places. Blade length is approximately 26 1/8 inches and overall length 37 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 3 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 brass alloy, maybe with some gilding.
The handle (tsuka) has an nice faux stingray skin (Sa-Me) grip, which has unfortunately cracked a bit. It has a complete Ito (cloth binding), which shows little to no wear. There is a single bamboo securing peg (mekugi) still present, but it looks to be recently made. The lower mekugi-ana (peg hole) is empty. 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. The end fitting, curiously, is of the very late war P-1944 type, so this sword was made during the change over to the late war pattern.
The fittings on this sword are not marked with any numbers, except for the tsuka, which is marked 一 四 八 - 1 4 8. This matches the painted number on the dated side of the tang, 一 四 八. Normally other parts would be marked, but in later war production, that step was omitted.
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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