All Japanese officers in 20th century wartime Japan were required to wear a sword as a badge of rank. Though traditional swordsmiths made exquisite blades for the highest officers, there was no way they could meet the massive demand required by the military. The gap was filled with non-traditional smiths using non-traditional metals and techniques. Though inherently inferior to traditional blades, these swords still carried the weighty symbolism of the Japanese martial character.
These katana-like blades are called ‘’Shin Gunto’’ which means ‘’new military sword’’. They existed alongside the older ‘’Kyu Gunto’’ sabers that were in emulation of western-style swords. Though more traditional in appearance, the popularity of the Shin Gunto was a later arrival and it greatly increased in popularity from the 1930’s through WWII as the Japanese nationalism sought inspiration from their samurai past over a prior emphasis on foreign inspiration.
In modern Japan, these mass-produced ‘’Showato’’ class swords are illegal to own as they are not considered to be ‘’true’’ Japanese swords due to their wartime manufacturing shortcuts. Though these mass-produced military ‘’Shin Gunto’’ swords substituted the complex Japanese blade-making techniques for mass-manufactured steel, they were still lethally sharpened.
This recreation of a Shin Gunto is a finer example of the more elaborate Shin Gunto’s crafted, for it has an actual Ito grip wrap of leather. Many of the Shin Gunto’s had a false Ito of painted cast metal on the grip. This Shin Gunto has a tsuba and pommel cap of brass. A single, thick copper seppa lies beneath the brass habaki. The grip is wrapped with a light brown leather and overlaid with brown leather tsuka-ito lacing.
The scabbard is of steel with brass accents and is lined on the interior with wood. It has a single brass hanging ring. A simple locking mechanism on the sword and scabbard keep the sword firmly kept in place until released by a button push.
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