Original WWII Japanese Type 98 Shin-Gunto Katana Sword by MICHIHIRO with Steel Scabbard - dated 1943
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, and the tang of the blade is signed (Mei) with the characters 通 廣 (MICHIHIRO). Research indicates that this is short for the known Showa Era sword smith 石原通廣 - ISHIHARA MICHIHIRO. Unfortunately not much else is known about the smith that we could find. However this is definitely an excellently made blade.
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 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")
- Clear Yokote with visible Boshi (tip temper line)
- Blade is signed on the tang by the maker ("Mei") as well as dated.
Offered in great condition, the blade is still sharp is nick free except for the very tip of the kissaki (point). Overall the polish on the blade is great, with only a few traces of oxidation. Blade length is approximately 26 1/4 inches and overall length 37 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 kissaki also has a nice boshi of the oumaru (Large circle) 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, 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 shows light wear and staining. 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 only a few small dents, 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 tsuka and fuchi are unmarked, however all four seppa and the tsuba are marked with what looks to be 中 〇. This indicates that they are a matched set, made for this specific blade. The tang however is marked with numerals 二 三 四 - 2 3 4, which does not match any of the fittings. Normally all of the fittings would have a matching number, but later in the war these steps were omitted.
Overall in excellent 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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