World War II - Original Japanese Army Officer's Katana Sword
Category: World War II
Item Number: 12790
World War Two Imperial Japanese Army Officer's Sword and field service scabbard. This Shin-gunto katana of 39 inches overall length has a blade signed "Hisa Michi" and is dated Showa 18 (1943). The blade has areas of stains and pitting and has been cleaned. The brown painted scabbard shows some wear and the tsuka (hilt) wrap is soiled. The menuki and other fittings with flower design are all present. An evocative artifact of the Pacific Theater with obvious signs of extensive war use.
This sword was styled to resemble the ‘Tachi’ sword type of the classic Samurai Kamakura period (1185-1332) as the Imperial Japanese Army wished to foster the code of Bushido (the way of the warrior) in its soldiers and these swords were a reminder of a legendary period in Japanese history where the Samurai warrior’s weapon embodied all that was honorable in the Japanese martial ethos. This type of sword replaced the earlier ‘Kyu- Gunto-’ or ‘Old Sword’ and was therefore collectively known as the ‘Shin Gunto-’ or ‘New Sword’.
The main difference between the Type 98 swords and the earlier Type 94 swords was the removal of the second mounting ring or ‘Obi-Tori’ from the scabbard (‘saya’). There were considerable differences in quality of both blades and mounts for both types of sword and most utilized machine made blades. The minority, better quality, weapons were produced using traditional methods by individual swordsmiths. This particular blade appears to have been made by Hisa Michi, and bears the ‘Showa 18’ Stamp, indicating that this sword was produced in 1943. The maker and year of manufacture are expected to be displayed on the nagako (tang), however, the tsuka (hilt) has not been removed to reveal the nagako, so the maker and year of manufacture have not been confirmed. This sword displays clear evidence of operational use as the blade is marked with a number of nail-catcher nicks that are recognized by collectors as indicative of use. The Kamakura era type Koshirae profile blade of these ‘Tachi’ style swords was designed for cutting and thrusting and earned a reputation for robustness and utility. The blade on this sword is a very good example of the type.
These ‘Shin Gunto-’ mounted swords were used by Commissioned Officers of the Imperial Japanese Army during WW2. They were very highly sought after by Australian, US and British troops as souvenirs. This weapon is almost certainly one of those battlefield mementos. This sword is fitted with Shin Gunto- mounts in very good original condition with a first class aged patina. The shinogi-zukuri shaped blade is in ‘good used’ condition. It’s in old polish with the usual surface staining and scratched striations consistent with age and use. The ‘muji hada’ (surface grain pattern) appears close and well-grained with no forging flaws visible anywhere. The hamon, the border between the tempered part of the ha [cutting edge] and the untempered part of the rest of the sword, is still clearly visible; The temper line is a an irregular wavy gunome midare pattern with a faint o-maru temper at the point.
The tsuka (hilt) is first class with its original silk-cord wrapping over a ‘Mekugi’ (peg) and family ‘chrysanthemum’ menuki (grip ornaments). The tsuba (guard) is in the ‘Tembo’ style with a very good patina and two accompanying, matching, steel seppa. The saya (scabbard) is metal. The sword has not been restored or refurbished, other than professional adhesive strengthening to a single leather wrapping on the hilt which had become corroded and split. No part of the leather wrapping has been replaced and the strengthening was limited to what was necessary to prevent unravelling. otherwise in very good condition