Original WWII Japanese Type 98 Shin-Gunto Katana with Ancient Handmade Blade & Leather Covered Wood Scabbard
Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased at a large military auction, this is a great USGI Bring-Back 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 in very good shape, and was 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.
It was a common practice for swords to be passed down for generations, particularly ones that were of high quality. These would be re-polished and re-fit numerous times, as steel was precious and swords were expensive. This continued up into WWII, which is how this blade found its way into standard WWII "Shin-Gunto" fittings, with a locking scabbard. There also was an official Japanese program during the war for families with no sons to donate their swords towards the war effort.
The blade is handmade and was expertly crafted long ago by a sword maker, which is indicated by a few tell-tale characteristics that include:
- Multiple Holes in the tang are punched and not drilled.
- Visible temper line ("hamon") with crystallization visible (Nie and Nioi)
- Blade has lamination visible in the body (JI) as well as edge (HA) of the blade, including HADA (grain) on the ji.
- The Blade has lamination artifacts or "blade wounds" (kizu) such as fukure (carbon pits), only possible on traditionally made blades.
- Blade has a proper geometric Yokote at the tip (kissaki) with a faint Boshi (tip temper line)
There is no signature on this blade, so it is considered 無名 (mumei), or "anonymous". Sometimes these blades were never signed, or the signature may have worn away due to oxidation over the years. This blade is definitely quite old, probably from the 17th or 18th century.
Offered in very good condition, the blade is still sharp and looks great. There are just a few tiny dents on the edge, without any notches or chips. Overall the polish on the blade is very good, with just a few areas of wear and scuffing, as well as a bit of light oxidation. Blade length is approximately 26 1/8 inches and overall length 37 inches. The katana has a handmade blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with a Haagari (asymmetrical rounded) nakago-jiri (tang tip).
It has a proper kissaki (tip) with a clear yokote (division between body and tip). The temper line (hamon) is fully visible, and is a very attractive YAHAZU (notched) shape. There are Nie crystals visible with a magnifying glass at the temper line, and the correct NIOI cloudy areas of crystals. There is however one area about 10 inches from the tip where the hamon runs very close to the edge, possibly off it. due to the age of the blade, re-polishing may have made the blade smaller, making this a possibility, however for wartime needs, this was not a problem. The BOSHI (tip temper line) is unfortunately not completely visible due to wear in the polish, so we cannot see what type it is. The body of the blade (JI) shows grain (hada), which is the standard straight (MASAME) 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 2 Seppa (spacers) around the cross guard to keep the fit tight. The tsuba and seppa are cut for a leather scabbard strap, but there is not one present. is The blade collar (habaki) looks to be the standard brass alloy.
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 use and staining. There is a single wooden securing peg (mekugi) still present, which looks to be original. The Scabbard (saya) is a standard black lacquered wood type, covered with a leather field cover. It has a single metal hanger ring. The leather cover is in good shape, showing only light wear to the leather itself. The stitching on the cover however has not held up as well, and the seam is split for a good portion of the length of the scabbard.
An incredible Japanese Type 98 Shin-gunto Katana with a handmade blade, this is a real USGI bring-back from WWII, ready to display and cherish!
Blade Length: 26 1/8”
Blade Style: Katana
Overall length: 37"
Scabbard Length: 28 1/2"
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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