WWII Signed Japanese Navy Officer “Takayama Sword” Shin Gunto
The sword has an overall length in the scabbard of approximately 33 1/2 inches with a blade length of approximately 20 1/2 inches. The blade is very bright, with a coating of old oil. The blade is without chips, nicks, or active rust. The tang is extensively signed on one side “Respectfully made Takayama sword. Swordsmith Ishihara Masanao. Polisher Oya Michio.” The tsuba is plain solid iron. The handle of the sword is wrapped in the traditional fashion with green fabric, beneath which the grip is covered in ray skin. The standard military menuki of three cherry blossoms are located on each side of the handle. The scabbard is black lacquered wood which shows some chipping to the finish in the area of the scabbard ring. Overall the sword is in excellent condition (It should be noted that the sword tang was dusted with simple baby powder in order to make the signature on the tang clearly visible for the photograph, with the powder than being removed from the tang). This style was designed by Takayama Masayoshi, who was an instructor at the Naval Academy in sword technique. His concept was developed after studying WWI trench warfare. The idea was draw, strike, kill with one blow. The more time spent hand-to-hand just increase the odds of someone else getting you from behind. So the blade is shorter, heavier, with more mass at the tip for more momentum.
Takayama Masakichi was an acknowledged swordsmith to the Navy who had developed techniques of sword creation that emphasized the sword as a combat weapon. Although a civilian, he held a rank equivalent to a flag officer. Swords made to his specifications were designated as “Takayama swords”. Following the end of the war he was adjudged a “Class B” war criminal for his cutting tests in China. Item number 32486.