Here I have a superb early 新軍刀 (Shin-Guntō) in untouched original condition (just the way I like to find them!). Signed with Hi (grooves) 'Yoshimitsu- a rare feature on WW2 swords.
'Yoshimitsu' (Tanaka Shokichi)
Dated: Showa 16th year 12th Month (December 1941)
Nagasa: 65cm (25.6 inches)
Yoshimitsu worked during the Showa period (1926-1989) in Nagano. He is one of 3 smiths by this name, but this smith is the only one to use this Mei. His real name was Tanaka Shokichi and he was born in 1901. He studied in Niigata under Amata Sadayoshi and Miyairi Akihira and worked as a Rikugun-Jumei-Tosho, Joko no Retsu (Akihide), and held a fourth seat at the 6th Shinsaku Nihonto Denrankai in 1941. (Sesko, 2015: 382). The Seki stamp is an inspection mark and does not denote that it is not traditionally made Nihon-To as some 'experts' will tell you. Each sword must be judged on its own merits and although some swords with Seki stamps are mill steel and traditionally made there are some that are clearly Tamahagane. However, if a Nihon-To is made of Mill steel or Namban (foreign steel), which has been used by Tosho (Japanese sword smiths) since the 16th century, these Namban Tetsu swords are still regarded as traditionally made Nihon-to even though they were not made of Tamhagane and paper in Japan! So the argument and opinion that the steel used denotes a genuine Nihon-To is unsound and a myth. WW2 Gendai-To with Seki stamps must be judged on a blade by blade basis and in many cases are totally hand made using steel that was available at the time of production.