Army NCO’s Sword (Shin-gunto Pattern)

  • Dated: circa 1940
  • Culture: Japanese
  • Medium: Blade: steel. Hilt (handle): aluminium. Hilt (handle): brass. Hilt (handle): copper. Pommel: leather. Scabbard: steel. Tsuba (guard): brass. Wash on hilt: copper
  • Measurements: overall length 960 mm. Sword length 924 mm. Blade length 695 mm. Blade width 30 mm. Tsuba width 72 mm. Tsuba depth 60 mm. Hilt length 217 mm. Hilt width 36 mm. Hilt depth 25 mm. Pommel length 420 mm. Scabbard length 742 mm
  • Inscriptions: the Kokura arsenal marks
  • Provenance: Kokura Arsenal, Japan

This Japanese sword was surrendered on 31 October 1945 to Tom Harrisson, who was serving as an officer with the Australian-based special operations unit ‘Z Special Unit’. Following the capitulation of Japan, he was tasked with rounding up Japanese troops in North-Central Borneo. Harrisson (1911-1976) had risen to prominence as a founder member of Mass Observation.

He resigned from this organization and joined the army in 1941. He recorded his time in Borneo in a book: ‘World Within’; including the handover of the sword, which he describes as a ‘highly inconsequential ‘ceremony”. The sword is an example of the standard (and mass produced) Japanese non-commissioned officer’s sword. It was manufactured in the government arsenal at Kokura.

Source: Copyright © 2014 IWM - Imperial War Museum



Mounting for a Short Sword (Wakizashi Goshirae)

  • Lacquerwork by Shibata Zeshin (Japanese, 1807–1891)
  • Fittings maker: Tsuchiya Masayoshi Yasuchika (Japanese, died 1860)
  • Dated: fittings dated 1849
  • Culture: Japanese
  • Medium: wood, lacquer, brass, shakudo, gold
  • Measurements: overall length 26 1/8 in. (66.4 cm)

This superb set of mountings for a short sword, or wakizashi, was made by Shibata Zeshin, one of the most versatile artists of the Edo period and Meiji era, who was highly regarded both as a lacquer specialist and as a painter.

His large output includes many types of lacquer boxes, inro, bowls, cups, trays, painted silk scrolls, sliding panels and screens, and an innovative type of lacquer painting (urushi-e).

Zeshin created only about one dozen sword mountings, of which this is among the best. The grainy wood surface of the scabbard is a masterly trompe l’oeil effect achieved completely in lacquer, as are the simulated silk wrappings of the hilt.

Source: Copyright © 2014 Metropolitan Museum of Art



Wakizashi Sword

  • Dated: late Edo Period: 1603-1867
  • Culture: Japanese
  • Medium: steel, copper, ray skin, silk, wood
  • Measurements: blade length: 55 cm. Tang lenght: 12 cm

The tang (part of the blase encased by the handle) measures 12 cm. The koshirae (mounting) has two menuki, a bird and a crescent, and two seppa and habaki in copper. The tsuba is also made of copper, featuring vegetal decoration. The kozuka of the sword is also of copper and shows a fishing scene. The tzuka is covered in ray skin and silk rope, while the sheath in brown wood with enlarged tip, featuring a decoration of small black birds.

Source: Copyright © 2014 The Caravana Collection