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

Item Description

Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased from a private collection, this is lovely condition USGI Bring-Back wartime production Japanese officer Katana in the Type 98 Shin-Gunto (九八式軍刀 kyūhachi-shiki guntō) setting. The Type 98 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 looks to have been arsenal forged, and the tang of the blade is signed (Mei) with the characters 武 久, which is read as TAKEHISA. There is unfortunately not much known on this smith, other than they were active during the Showa period. We have confirmed the signature (oshigata) with other examples of their work. The bottom of the tang on this side is marked with the somewhat mysterious W stamping, which is believed to be a sub-inspection mark, possibly for blades forged using "Mantetsu" steel.

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 秋. This would be read: SHOWA (current reigning emperor) Juu-Hachi Nen (18th year of reign - 1943) Aki (Autumn). The tang is also painted 三 三 一 - 331 in black, which would be used to match the blade to the koshirae (fittings).

Offered in very good condition, the blade is still quite sharp and looks great. There is a bit of bending and minor nicking on the edge, which is a bit rough on the half of the blade nearest the tip. Overall the polish on the blade is very good, showing some light wear, as well as some oxidation staining on both sides, which we have made no attempt to polish out. It has been given a standard polish, with a burnished mune (spine) and shinogi-ji (blade flat above the ridge) while the JI has a bit of a matte character, as is correct. Blade length is approximately 26 ¼ inches and overall length 37 inches. The katana has an arsenal forged blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with Haagari (asymmetrical rounded) nakago-jiri (tang tip).

The blade has a proper kissaki (tip) with a clear yokote (division between body and tip) and boshi (tip temper line). The main edge Temper line (HAMON - 刃文) is fully visible, and is a very attractive SUGUHA (直刃 -straight) shape, which is most likely from oil tempering.

The blade mountings are the classic WWII era Type 98 Army Shin-Gunto style, brass with gilt accents, which have mostly worn away. It has the typical rounded "quince" (mokko gata) 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 three metal seppa (spacers) around the tsuba to keep the fit tight. All are inlet for the scabbard lock, which is fully functional. The blade collar (habaki) looks to be the standard plated brass alloy.

The handle (tsuka) has an great Sa-Me (Stingray Skin) grip, which is fully intact. It has a mostly complete golden brown Ito (cloth binding), which shows wear and staining from use in the field. It also has born around the mekugi-ana peg hole in the past, and was repaired using some type of red glue long ago. There is a single wooden securing peg (mekugi) still present, which is definitely a display replacement. There is no loop on the end of the handle, which looks to have been fabric, and tore off long ago.

There is matching number & 3 3 1 stamped on the tsuba and all three seppa, while the end of the tsuka, the fuchi, and the scabbard lock are marked & 三 三 一. This matches the marking on the blade, which means that this set of fittings was made for this specific blade. The inside of the scabbard may have matched as well, but it unfortunately is too worn for any markings to survive.

The Scabbard (saya) is steel over wood, and in very good condition, without any dents, bends, or major structural issues. It shows light overall wear to the external textured brown paint, which has resulted in some light oxidation in areas. It has the correct single hanger loop of the Type 98 style, though that fitting has lost most of the original finish due to handling wear. The top fitting is inlet for the scabbard lock on the hilt. which is still fully functional.

A very nice Japanese Type 98 Shin-gunto by a known maker, showing some great period wear. This is a real USGI bring-back from WWII, ready to display and cherish!

Blade Length: 26 ¼”
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 37“
Scabbard Length: 28 ¾”

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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