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Newbie With Shin Gunto

gunto showato katana

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#1 Jim R

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 06:28 PM

Hi all

 

I've just found this forum and it's excellent, so I thought I'd just introduce myself and say hello from Scotland, the actual place where the sun don't shine.

 

I'm a middle aged guy from Glasgow with a general interest in history and culture - visiting Japan for the first time later this year, which has been a long held ambition of mine.

 

A few years ago, I inherited a Japanese military sword from my late father who served in India, Burma and Malaya during WW2.

It has been kept in various cupboards for pretty much the last 70 years and I thought it was about high time that I started to do some research on it.

 

From the research I've been doing online, it looks every inch to be a shin gunto, but I was just wondering if anyone would be able to tell how and maybe even where it was made, e.g. machine made, or partially hand forged, etc. It's got a hamon, but not much evidence of hada and stamps on each side of the tang, although they're pretty difficult to make out.

 

I've posted a few pics here (sorry about the quality).  If anyone would be happy to take a look, that would be brilliant.

 

Thanks and all the best

 

Jim

 

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • blade and saya.jpg
  • kissaki.jpg
  • date.jpg
  • mei.jpg
  • tsuba.jpg

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#2 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 06:59 PM

Welcome Jim!

You have a nice shingunto made in January of 1945 (could be off as I'm reading this in the mountains on my cell phone). Someone else will be able to give you the smith name.

#3 Jim R

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 07:29 PM

Hi Bruce

 

Thank you so much for having a look at this.  

I reckoned it was a war time manufactured gunto - I'd no idea about the date though, so that's much appreciated.

 

Hope you're having a good trip in the mountains.

 

Cheers

 

Jim



#4 SwordGuyJoe

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 07:54 PM

The other side is Noshu Seki Ju Yoshimitsu Saku. Which translated to Yoshimitsu, from Seki in Noshu, made this.
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#5 SwordGuyJoe

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 07:57 PM

Here is a little bit on Yoshimitsu from Markus' swordsmith index.

Yoshimitsu (義光), Shōwa (昭和, 1926-1989), Gifu – „Yoshimitsu“ (義光), civilian name „Yabushita Fujio“ (藪下不二夫)

#6 Jim R

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 09:19 PM

Hi Joe

 

Thank you very much for this too.  This is really appreciated.

I've read that hundreds of thousands, or probably even millions, of these swords were produced during the war so I really never thought I'd be able to find out where or when the sword was made, let alone the name of the smith who made it.

 

It's amazing to be able to start to discover the back-story to this sword after its journey from Japan through to Burma, and ending up here in Scotland. 

 

Thanks again and all the best.

 

Jim



#7 paulb

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 10:05 PM

Jim

Welcome to the message board

There are some very enthusiastic and knowledgeable collectors in and around Glasgow who could probably help you a lot with your sword. If you let me have some contact details via pm I will forward contact details to you.

I also live a mile or so south of Hadrian's wall so not too far away, and would be happy to discuss your sword if you want 

Best Regards

Paul


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#8 Jim R

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 10:38 PM

Hi Paul

 

That's excellent.  I'm regularly in or near Cumbria and Northumberland too.

I'll try to send you a PM now.

 

Cheers

 

Jim



#9 Shamsy

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 11:52 PM

Welcome Jim,
Nice to see someone who has performed preliminary research prior to posting.

You're sword is a pretty standard example of a 98. I'd not say there were millions made! More NCO swords were made than officers swords, and there were only a few hundred thousand, give or take. Even so, very prolific!

Now as to the sword, I'm afraid there's not a huge amount to say. Please don't take this as an insult as it is merely a statement of fact, but the sword is in cheaper mounting. While It’s a little debatable, this could mean a later war sword, or more likely the officer was not able to afford a high end sword, since officers purchase their own.

The solid cast tsuba (hand guard) and field saya (scabbard) are the less expensive alternatives. The fuchi (collar before tsuba) appears to be the unadorned dot type, the sarute (tassle ring) plain wire one.

Under the leather cover, is the saya fairly crude black painted? The sword fits with some I have seen that have a sticker on the saya too, so worth a look if you can.

So enjoy learning about your sword, It’s even better knowing where it came from and having a personal connection.

Cheers, Steve
Steve
Always interested in seeing and buying Type 95 NCO swords

#10 Jim R

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 01:15 AM

Hi Steve

 

Thanks for the info - from what you say, and the research I've done (admittedly not a huge amount), I reckon you must be pretty much spot on.  

 

The leather cover is not in great condition and the saya underneath is painted black, and that's flaking off and splitting a bit.  And there is also some kind of sticker.  It's a sliver covered, roughly star-shaped sticker on the saya.  It's located near the top of the saya, just where the button fastener (excuse my lack of knowledge of the proper terminology here) was.  I say "was" because the fastener has disappeared along with half of the thumb strap that would have secured the saya.

 

I'm absolutely cool about the appraisal of the mountings, and the whole sword.  I reckoned it was not a traditionally made nihonto or gendaito and the mountings, and probably the blade itself, were likely to be of the lower cost and more factory-made variety, so I really appreciate what you're saying.

 

I'm more interested in its history.  I'm not sure if "sentimental" is the right word to use here, but I've certainly got a real attachment to it, given that I got it from my dad who was still a young guy at the end of the war and brought it back to a small town near Glasgow in Scotland from Malaya (I've still got the chit that his C/O gave him to make sure he got it home safely). 

 

That said, it's still a pretty awesome looking object and I can only say I treat it with complete respect.

 

Cheers

 

Jim


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#11 David Flynn

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 10:09 AM

Shamsy, 6, 095,000 troops served in the ​IJA ground forces alone.  If 1 in 20 is an officer (probably more like 1 in 10),  then there would have had to be a least 309,500 officers gunto ( don't forget, many officers had more than one sword).  This doesn't take into account the Airforce, which was also part of the Army and used Shingunto.   Then there's the Navy.


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David




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#12 paulb

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 10:23 AM

I am doing this from memory which is extremely dangerous these days, but I think somewhere in Fuller and Gregory's books they quoted numbers of arounf 1.5 million swords being produced/carried between 1936 and 45. I am guessing this number includes all services and NCO as well as officers swords as well as family and private purchase swords. Many were destroyed during and after the war (many being dumped in the pacific) but it was suggested there were still sevaral hundred thousand extant.



#13 SteveM

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 10:26 AM

I think the date is 1942

 

昭和十七年二

Shōwa 17 (1942) February

 

The angle of the photo puts the two characters in blue in a bit of a dead spot, where the relief of the engraving gets lost in the rough texture of the steel. A different angle might remove all doubt as to those two characters. 


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#14 Jim R

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 12:42 PM

Hi again all, and thanks Steve

 

I've taken another photo of the date and the signature (this time hopefully the photo has attached the right way up).

It's still difficult to make out from the photo but looking at the nakago up close, I think you're absolutely right

 

Cheers

 

Jim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Attached Thumbnails

  • date characters.jpg
  • mei kanji.jpg


#15 Jim R

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 12:58 PM

Here are another two photos of the date.  I've had to take two photos to get a good close up, with the first 4 characters from top to bottom in the first close up, and the three bottom characters in the second photo.

 

Thanks again for all your help everyone.

 

Cheers

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • date close up.jpg
  • close up 2.jpg


#16 Shamsy

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 01:15 PM

Jim, if you're interested in reading about the sticker on the saya (scabbard) read this thread;

http://www.militaria...on-combat-saya/

I thought the sword looked pretty familiar. Seen a few of these now from Seki. Very much a treasure to look after since it is family property. I've got my grandfather's sword which I highly prize for no reason beyond it belonged to him.

I'll clarify David that I am talking about new swords being made, not remounted blades or civilian swords. Oh, also excluding those parade swords too because I honestly didn't even think about them. I just don't really feel that they should be counted anyway. I think a few hundred thousand is a reasonable estimate. That would be reasonably in line with what I've read. Luckily a few is defined as 'not many but more than one' with a common understanding to be 3 or more, so I've plenty of wiggle room on those figures ;-)
Steve
Always interested in seeing and buying Type 95 NCO swords

#17 paul griff

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 01:38 PM

Hello Jim,
Welcome....Nice to have a heirloom such as this to introduce you to the fascinating study of the Japanese sword .....be it military or civilian...It's an itch I just can't scratch....!
Regards,
Paul.
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#18 Jim R

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 01:54 PM

Hi Steve

 

That's an interesting read.  The saya sticker looks identical to the one IJASwords posted, although mine is completely unreadable.

 

And I'm absolutely with you - although these are beautiful items in their own right, the real value for me is that it belonged to my father.

 

Jim

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  • saya sticker.jpg


#19 Jim R

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 01:58 PM

Cheers Paul

 

I feel really lucky to have this heirloom.

I don't know why I've never looked into it before, but now that I've started,I've got a feeling this will become a lifelong interest.

 

Jim


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#20 raaay

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 03:49 PM

Hi Jim

 

check out face book, there is a recently re activated Scottish Token Group , possible  meeting sometime soon  in Glasgow, just waiting to hear from the group .

 

as previously mentioned, there is a few collectors in the Glasgow area.

 

good luck, you are now on the slippery slope , when you first start , one is never enough !! 


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#21 Jim R

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 04:13 PM

Hi Ray

 

Thanks for the info on the To-Ken Group. I'll check this out on facebook and hopefully get along to the meetings.

 

I think I might be catching the bug - a good nihonto would be very nice!

 

Cheers

 

Jim



#22 SwordGuyJoe

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 08:29 PM

There is a good thread going on about reading material. If you're going to consider getting into the hobby, I highly suggest taking a look and picking up a couple of the recommended reading.

Good luck!

#23 Jim R

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 09:40 PM

Thanks Joe

 

I'll check out that thread and will pick up some books. I hardly know where to start, so I'll follow the recommendations.

I'm so glad I found this forum.

 

Cheers

 

Jim



#24 SteveM

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 12:43 AM

The second set of photos helped a lot. February 1942, for sure. 


Steve M

#25 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 01:24 AM

I think the date is 1942
 
昭和十七年二
Shōwa 17 (1942) February
 
The angle of the photo puts the two characters in blue in a bit of a dead spot, where the relief of the engraving gets lost in the rough texture of the steel. A different angle might remove all doubt as to those two characters.


Steve, you're right, I didn't feel right about my '45 date.

On the numbers, one of the reference books listed over 250,000 officer and as many NCO swords surrendered. So that's over 500,000 at the END OF THE WAR.





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