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Inherited WW2 Army sword


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Hello, first time here finding this all fascinating!  i was wondering if anyone could help with shedding some light on what these markings mean.

Photos are not great as my sister took them and sent to me so difficult to see the marks clearly.  ive yet to get my hands physically on it as still arranging import.


The story: Ive just inherited this.  Grandfather acquired this sword in Singapore in 1945 at the Japanese surrender. we even have a picture of him climbing back aboard his vsl holding the sword.(see below)

(modelling below is my nephew)

Apparently they had it made blunt many years ago as worried an intruder might use it...


Looks to me like a Army Type 98.officer sword...although the tassel is more of an NCO type... and i think attached to the wrong part at the moment. although its not a tassel as such but a leather thing.


But im after anymore information that you can shed on this especially on the characters on the Tang and the handle.

im devouring the other threads for further knowledge and info!


Many thanks indeed!




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Hi Nicholas, yes you are correct it's a Type 94/98 officers sword with what looks like a Zohei-To blade. These were made using good quality swedish steel and forged using nontraditional methods, while not as impressive as many other swords of the era they usually have very high quality fittings, were popular with officers and performed well during wartime sword exhibitions. We would need better photos of the tassel to ascertain what it is, don't worry about tying it on the wrong place, there are plenty of originals found with the tassel tied around the hanger. Please make sure you wipe down the blade with a good machine oil and avoid touching the blade with your bare hands, this will prevent further rust occurring and ensure you can pass this sword down to the next generation intact.

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Hi John, many thanks for the Reply. 


I find it odd that it has an NCO 'tassel', yet is clearly an officer's sword. 


I'll make sure they wipe it down the blade. 


Hopefully someone can be along shortly and can tell me about the characters!



great stuff!







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The kanji on the end of the nakago (tang) - 3 ? 4 - and are most likely put there by the shop that assembled the blade to it's fittings.  They often will have matching numbers on the metal parts, like the tsuba (handguard) and seppa (spacers), but not always.  In fact, the numbers match those on the mouth of the saya (scabbard), pic attached.  Yours seem to be a mix of kanji and numbers.  I'll post on the translation forum for clarification.  But they are still likely to be assembly markings.


The officer gunto that come back with NCO tassels are a mystery.  I've seen a number of them lately.  Your picture shows that this came home that way, as opposed to being added back home by a collector or dealer.  Now, it's not known if the gunto was found that way, or if the soldier added the tassel before coming home.  If your grandfather is still alive, it would mean a lot to us if you could ask him if it was found that way.


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Hello all, thank you for the responses,


I spoke to a Japanese colleague regarding the Z. and he wrote ""Usually 甲乙丙丁(4 grades or class) or 甲乙丙(3grades or class). So yea 乙 means the second in this context. Therefore could it be that this is: 2nd Class(grade) sword. ref: 354. or  2nd batch perhaps."" 

He knows nothing about  swords, but was just referencing the Z character. but could be an interesting take on it all. Although he wasnt very convinced it was a #5.  

This matches to some extent what @SteveM mentions above in that this Z is just part of the production line reference. 


Unfortunately my Grandfather is no longer around so unable to ask him how the NCO tassel got attached to the sword. 

@Bruce Pennington the slider is leather.  

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Ok, Nick, thanks, both on the confirmation about the 乙 and the info on your grandfather.


After another look, minor point, but there is a "1" there, too.  More visible on the tsuka (not the saya like I said earlier), but you can see it faintly on the blades too.


So, 乙 1354.


Here is the version of the 5 from Steve's reference.  You'll note on the tsuka, even the 4 is a variation/simplification.


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