Original WWII Japanese Type 98 Shin-Gunto Wakizashi Sword with Handmade Blade, Manchukuo National Railway Scabbard & Tassel

Item Description

Original Item: One of a Kind. Recently purchased at a large military auction, this is a very interesting USGI Bring-Back Japanese officer Wakizashi Short Sword in simplified 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.

The end fitting of the scabbard with this sword bears the logo of 滿洲國國有鐵道 (Manchukuo National Railway, the cross section of a rail with a cloud in the middle. This was a state-run railroad company operated during the Japanese occupation before and during WWII from 1933–1945. Like the 華北交通 (North China Railway), the officers of the MNR carried swords, which were marked on the drag and hilt with the logo. This sword has the marking on the scabbard drag only. For more information please see the Wikipedia page: Manchukuo National Railway.

The blade on this example was hand forged in the traditional fashion, most likely in the 19th century during the late Edo period (江戸時代, Edo jidai) or Tokugawa period (徳川時代, Tokugawa jidai) of Japanese history. This is the period between 1603 and 1867, when Japan was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country's 300 regional daimyo. The tang shows an aged patina with some rust scaling, and the yasirume file marks are worn. it also has two holes in the tang (mekugi-ana) that are close together, so it was refit during its life.

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 it's 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.

Blades usually suffered the most damage close to the cross guard, and there were limits to how much polishing could be done to reshape the blade. It was often easier to shorten the cutting edge of the blade past the point of the damage, and this also meant that the tang would become longer, and need to be cut down. This process is know as "suriage", and this sword has definitely been cut down. Unfortunately this also removed the area where it would have been signed, so it is now considered 無名 (mumei), or "anonymous".

The blade is ancient and handmade and expertly crafted by a master sword maker due to a few tell tale characteristics that include:

- The tang shows great age, having been cut down and reduced in size as well as cleaned during the process.

- The hole in the tang (mekugi) is punched and not drilled.

- Vibrant visible temper line (hamon) at the edge of the blade with crystals visible as well as lots of activity.

- Blade has a proper geometric tip (kissaki), showing a yokote and boshi (tip temper line).

- The Blade has lamination artifacts or "blade wounds" (kizu) such as ware (lamination lines), only possible on traditionally made blades.

Offered in very attractive condition, polish on the blade is still in very good condition in many areas, though it is a bit worn from cleaning and use. There are also some areas of staining along the edge, as well as scattered light staining on the body of the blade. THe aspects of the temper line can still be seen in the light relatively easily. The edge is still VERY SHARP, and shows just a few small bends, as well as a small chip on the very tip of the blade.

The blade length is approximately 23 1/4 inches and overall length 35 inches. This classifies the sword as a wakizashi (脇差, "side inserted [sword]"), which is a shorter version of the Katana, with a blade length between 12 and 24 in. Katanas must be longer than 2 shaku (尺), which is approximately 12 inches in length. We have seen a few wakizashi before in Shin-Gunto fittings, most likely family blades. As the length is close to that of a Katana, and the blade is the "Shinogi-Zukuri" shape, this would be termed an O-Wakizashi (大脇差 or "large side inserted sword").

The katana has a handmade blade with a Futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago (tang) with a KIRI (cut) nakago-jiri (tang tip). It has a vibrant temper line (hamon), which is visible along much of the edge of the blade. The shape is a very attractive GUNOME MIDARE (互の目乱れ - irregular wave / swell). It looks almost like a saw tooth / sharks teeth in some places, with also some CHOJI (clove tree flower) aspects as well. There is visible NIE crystallization at the edge of the temper line easily visible, as well as the correct NIOI cloudiness in the hamon where the polish is still good. There is also lots of internal activity, such as lamination swirls and other aspects.

The blade body (JI) also has faint ITAME HADA (wood grain) which can be seen in the light. There are some areas of wear and light scuffing, but the kissaki (tip) still shows a clear YOKOTE with visible BOSHI (tip temper line), though we cannot quite see what shape it is. The blade has various KIZU (blade wounds), including WARE , which are lamination seams from the forging process. Really some great aspects to this blade, with a lot of potential for a repolish.

The blade mountings (koshirae) are in very good condition, and are the classic "high grade" WWII era Type 98 Army Shin-Gunto style, browned brass with gilt accents. These include a perforated rounded MOKKO GATA ("quince" shaped) tsuba (cross guard), only seen on high grade fittings. There are also brass Imperial Army cherry blossom menuki (grip decorations), and a nice Kabuto-Gane (Pommel Cap), which has a brass loop on the end. 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 8 Seppa (spacers) around the cross guard to keep the fit tight, all inlet for the scabbard lock, which is present and functional. Also the Tsuba, Fuchi, Tsuka (end),all 8 Seppa, and even the scabbard lock are stamped with matching number 10, indicating they were assembled together for this specific blade.

The blade collar (HABAKI) is a lovely silver plated copper example, with a lovely "rain" texture. This is definitely not a WWII production collar, and probably is from an earlier fitting of the blade. The handle (tsuka) has a very nice stingray skin (Sa-Me) grip, with the correct golden brown Ito (cloth binding). The wrapping is in very good shape, with just a bit of wear and light overall staining from use. There is a single wooden securing peg (mekugi) still present, which is a post war replacement. Attached to the pommel cap loop is a Brown and Blue colored Tassel, which is in great lightly worn condition. This signifies that this was carried by a "company grade" officer, which would be a Lieutenant or Captain rank. It is in very good condition and totally correct.

There is even a family crest or MON on the end fitting, which is a "4 branch" style MOKKO (木瓜) design. This is a very common crest used in Japan, and there is much debate over whether it represents a flower, or possibly the cross section of a melon or other fruit.

The Scabbard (saya) is steel over wood, and in very good condition, showing some very interesting characteristics. There is the MNR drag mentioned before, but it also has smooth olive brown paint over a red primer on the body, usually seen on early war and/or high end Type 94 scabbards. This is however definitely a Type 98 scabbard, with the single hanger ring that is not removable. The paint shows some great period wear, through both the top layer, and also down to the steel body. There is also a small dent about 8 inches from the bottom, but it is minor. The top fitting is inlet for the scabbard lock on the hilt, and the lock works well, though it can sometimes get stuck on top of the fitting.

A great company officer's Japanese Type 98 Shin-gunto Wakizashi with an lovely handmade blade and NMR Scabbard! Definitely some really great research potential in this sword! This is a real USGI bring-back from WWII, ready to display and cherish!

Blade Length: 23 1/4”
Blade Style: Wakizashi - Shinogi-Zukuri
Overall length: 35"
Scabbard Length: 27 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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