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6 Steps To Buy A GREAT Japanese Sword Or Katana Without Getting Ripped Off

An Overview Of Japanese Blades

The history of Japanese swords can be traced back to the year 900 A.D. Ever since the ancient times, the Japanese considered the sword as a main weapon used by warriors in the battlefield. During those times, and even up to the present, swords presented a hierarchy of power. The more intricate the sword is, the higher the rank of a person owning the sword was.

Japan has experienced tumultuous civil wars which then led to the widespread practice of martial arts in the country, particularly during the Kamakura period. Because of this, martial arts was given utmost significance in the Japanese peninsula, especially by the Royal and elite families. The art of war had become a major practice in Japan since then until this very day.

Japanese royal families were deeply threatened by the series of war that took place in the country and they felt the need to strengthen their defense. The sword has become important weaponry in the history of Japan after bow and arrows were considered to be weak artillery. Swords have distinct physical attributes which make it better than bows and arrows.

Japanese warriors, during the prehistoric times use a variety of Japanese swords, and this is still very evident today. Each type of sword has a specific function and significance to its owner. There are long swords and short swords which are meant to fit various physical features of the owner of the sword.

Brief History of Japanese Swords

Japanese swords have surpassed centuries of wars and have taken significant part in the history of Japan. The fabrication of Japanese swords is divided into categories according to the period in which it was used. There are basically 6 categories of Japanese swords under various periods namely

  1. Jokoto
  2. Koto
  3. Shinto
  4. Shinshinto
  5. Gendaito
  6. Shinsakuto

Each sword under these 6 different categories is considered equally special and significant.

Jokoto, otherwise known as ancient swords, are those that were used during the prehistoric times up until the year 900 A.D. Jokoto swords are literally the oldest type of swords that were used by the Japanese warriors. Jokoto swords mostly have straight blades which require a certain degree of expertise before it can be used in the battlefield. Otherwise, warriors attempting to use it carelessly would end up hurting himself.

During the Koto period, between the years 900 A.D and 1596, there were other types of swords manufactured by famous sword smiths. These include Katana, Odachi, Tachi, Tsurugi, Tanto, Naginata and Kodachi. These swords were called the “Old Swords” that being manufactured during the late 10th century. Among these swords, the Katana and Tachi were used the most. Tachi is closely similar to a Katana with only a few noticeable differences.

Original swords made by expert sword smith bore signatures so as to distinguish it from the forged ones. The only difference between a Katana and Tachi is the position of the signature and the way it is held. A katana is worn with its cutting edge faced up while a Tachi is held with its cutting edge faced down. Another way of distinguishing between a Katana and Tachi is by looking at the position of the mei, or the signature of the sword smith.

During the Shinto period, around 1600 to 1764, other kinds of swords became known to the Japanese people. Swords manufactured during this period were called the “new swords” probably because the swords have been made with new materials and by using new technology. It was also during this period when sword smiths began using new methods in creating the swords, diverting from the traditional and ancient ways taught by ancient smiths.  They began producing the swords in volume to meet the ever increasing demand for Japanese blades.

After Shinto, there was the Shinshinto period around 1764 to 1886. Swords made during this period were inspired by Osaka style. During this period, swordsmiths tried to make new swords using the method used in the Koto period. It was also during this period when swords with wider and longer blades emerged. Shinshinto period was known as a revolutionary era that transformed the ancient swords into a totally new style with better functionality.

Gendaito followed the Shinshinto period at around 1876 to 1945. The demand for Japanese swords had not yet decreased even up to this period. Swords made during this period are known as “modern swords” because it has been already made with advanced technology. Although these swords are considered modern, some of the methods used were that of the traditional ones. The swords produced during this period were specially crafted by the hands of the swordsmith. It was also during this period when WW II happened, making the swords become a major part of the history, not only for Japan but for the whole world.

Shinsakuto followed after the Gendaito period and the swords fabricated during this time were called “newly made swords”. This period started during the post WW II era and continues up to the present. The swords made during this period are more intricate than before because there are new methods used by most of the new sword smiths today.

Truly, Japanese blades have a rich history which makes it very significant in the lives of many martial artists and historians. At present, you can see numerous swords that have extremely different physical characteristics and features. Swords have been made to conform to the changing needs of the people who are going to use it. Although Japan has now become one of the most civilly peaceful countries, many Japanese nationals still preserve their love for martial arts.

The use of swords is not limited to fighting anymore, especially today. The art of the sword has now become a major sport in Japan and in the other parts of the world as well. Certainly, the art of the sword is now on a different level and have evolved greatly through time. However, the ancient meanings of these swords remain in the hearts of Japanese martial artists and warriors.

Various Types of Japanese Swords

Basic Japanese swords have undergone numerous transformations over centuries of time. At present, there are more than 10 types of Japanese swords that can be used in the battlefield or for practice purposes. The type of sword used by the warrior or the martial artist plays a very significant role in winning the match. If one uses the wrong sword, then defeat could easily be seen around the corner.

Many aspiring martial artists are keen in choosing the sword to use. There are swords that are intended for beginners and there are swords that are specifically designed for a particular expertise level. So before buying a sword, you must know the different types currently available in the market to be able to choose the perfect sword for you.

Major Classifications of Japanese Swords

Japanese swords are classified according to its blade and its mount. Knowing the kind of blade and mount of a sword will directly tip you off of its specific use. For instance, a blade used to make Tachi can also be used to make a Katana Koshirae. The only difference between these two types of swords is the style of its mount. Only those who have a deep understanding of swords would know this difference.

Here are the various types of Japanese swords that you might want to know of:

  1. Chokuto (Jokoto)

This type of sword is known as the “straight sword” simply because its blade is straight and has only a single edge. Chokuto swords were produced before the 10th century, around 900 A.D, when there was no special technology involved in making the swords. This sword is also considered and classified as ancient sword because it was made during the ancient times and the methods used were purely traditional.

(Actual Chokuto Sword)

  1. Tsurugi (Ken)

This is another type of Japanese sword that was used a lot in the battlefield. Both Tsurugi and Chokuto swords are straight swords but the former has two edges. Just like Chokuto, Tsurugi swords are classified as ancient swords having bee made during the year 900 A.D. This sword is now better known by the Japanese as Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi. Tsurugi swords belong to the category of swords with long blades.

Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi

  1. Tachi

Tachi is one of the most popular swords made after the Jokoto period. This sword is similar to a Katana (which will be discussed later), but it is longer and is more curved than the latter. Tachi swords are generally big swords so they are worn suspended with the cutting edge faced down. A perfect Tachi has a blade measuring about 70 – 80 cm long.

Tachi

  1. Kodachi

This type of sword is also known as the “small big sword”. Kodachi is a little bit smaller and shorter than the Tachi sword which explains its name. In Japanese, the prefix ko- means short. So literally, Kodachi means a short Tachi. Everything except the length of the sword is the same with both Tachi and Kodachi. This sword was made using traditional methods during the 13th This sword only measures less than 60 centimeters in length.

Tachi on top; Kodachi right below the normal Tachi

  1. Odachi (Nodachi)

This sword also belongs to the Tachi classification but it is significantly longer than the regular Tachi. This type of sword is not usually used in the battlefield by the cavalry because it is considered special and expensive. Odachi measures about 100 centimeters long, which make it hard to produce using traditional methods of heating. Odachi is considered as a “ceremonial sword” or swords that are only used during special ceremonies. Oftentimes, this sword is offered to a shrine in honor of the owner’s patron God.

An Odachi held by a martial artist

  1. Katana

Katana is a very popular Japanese sword that was used during the late 13th century up to the present. This type of sword’s popularity can somehow be credited to some Anime films that emphasize on the use of Katana. This sword has a long and curved single-edged blade which makes it easily stand out compared to other types of Japanese swords. Katana had been used by samurais in feudal Japan since the 13th century, hence belonging to the “ancient sword” category. It is similar to the Tachi but the mei or the signature is located opposite to that of the Tachi. While a Tachi is worn suspended with its cutting edge faced down, a Katana is worn the same but with its cutting edge faced up.

An original Katana produced during the 14th century and used during the Kamakura period.

  1. Wakizashi

Wakizashi is often called the “companion sword” because it was made to accompany a standard Katana. This sword type belongs to the “short swords” category since it has significantly shorter blades compared to other standard-sized swords. This type of sword was manufactured sometime before the 16th Wakizashi means “side-inserted” and worn by the warriors together with a Katana. Its blade measures only about 30 to 60 centimeters long. If worn together with a Katana, it suggests that the bearer of the sword is a professional samurai or swordsman during the ancient times. Wakizashi is also made using traditional methods just like other swords belonging to the ancient category.

Wakizashi

There are also other bladed weapons in feudal Japan which are not really swords but can be considered as one. Here are some examples:

Tanto – This is a short-bladed weapon commonly used by warriors and samurais. This weapon is more popularly known today as a dagger. It is relatively small and can even fit the pocket which makes it a very good defense for surprise attacks. Warriors and samurais used Tanto as a back-up when using standard-sized swords. It is also a traditionally made weapon by swordsmiths. Today, daggers are rarely used in combat but have become more of a display piece in most Japanese homes.

Tanto (Modern-day Dagger)

Ken – This is another short-bladed weapon that is rather ceremonial in nature than it is for combat. This type of weapon is often offered at sacrificial rituals or important royal ceremonies.

Anatomy Of Japanese Blades

The blade of a sword is one of the most distinguishing features a sword can have. Most categories of swords are based on the kind of blade the sword has. Different swordsmiths have their own way of making unique sword blades that marks the distinction between each sword being produced. There are swords having plain blades and there are also swords made with ornate blades. The uses of these swords depend on how the blade was made by the swordsmiths.

The blades of the sword can either be single-edged or double-edged. It can also have a sharp tip or a blunt one. Generally, the kind of blade is determined by the sword smith producing the sword and the methods used in producing them. For example, you will easily know that a sword was made during the Jokoto period when it has a single-edge straight blade. With one look, you can directly know the origin of that sword.

Aspiring martial artists or collectors need to have an in-depth knowledge about the anatomy of different kinds of swords in order to determine which swords are real and which were forged. There may be slight differences between the swords but it will certainly have a great impact to a warrior’s battle or to a collector’s pride.

The blade is the most prominent part of a sword. It is what cuts the target and the attacking power of the cavalry. A sword having a good blade can be a great weapon and aide in war but a sword with poor quality blade may hurt the owner instead of helping him win the war. It is a standard procedure to check the quality of the blade before buying any sword. For you to be able to do this, you must first explore the different parts of the blade in standard quality so that you can examine an actual sword based on those standards.

Shown below is a diagram of a sword blade with its different parts.

Here are the parts of a Japanese blade as explained in details:

Kissaki

  • This is the tip of a Japanese blade. This part of the blade is very significant since it is the first to touch the body of your opponent. This part is often mistaken as the Boshi because of its position that is directly below the Kissaki. This is the longest part of the sword and will determine the total length of a sword when completed with the mounting.
  • Swords may have long tips, medium tips, short tips or even curved tips depending on the swords smith making it.

Boshi

  • This is the Hamon or the temper line of the Kissaki. The Boshi usually have a curved nature, especially for single-edged swords. Depending on the type of sword, the Boshi can be semi-curved or full curved. You can easily spot different kinds of swords by just looking at the Boshi.

Shinogi

  • This is the most outstanding part of a Japanese sword. In layman’s term, it is called as the Blade Ridge. Each sword has a unique Shinogi, especially if handmade by the swords smith. The shinogi can either be flat or wide, depending on how it is made by the swords smith. You will easily know at what period a sword is made by examining the Shinogi. Its length will help you determine the period as to when it was produced.
  • This part is also very important since it will determine the impact of your attack to the opponent. For instance, Japanese swords made with high ridgelines are good for targets that are generally solid in nature or hard. However, if you use this type of sword for soft targets, it will not yield good results. For cutting soft materials, it would be best to have a low shinogi because it can easily pass through the target without trouble. If you want to cut both hard and soft materials, then you should probably choose a sword with medium-high ridgelines.

Yokote

  • This part of the blade is also called the Dividing Line. This line divides the body of the sword from the tip. It starts from the point directly after the Kissaki. For swordsmen, this line is very important since it is where the geometry of a sword changes. You may not be able to see it clearly by just looking, but expert swordsmen will know for sure once they get hold of the sword. The Yokote signifies the difference of thickness between the sword’s body and its tip. Normally, a sword’s tip is thinner than its body.

Hi (Groove)

This is the groove on the blade of a sword. It is somewhat similar to a Kissaki because it can have various types and shapes depending on the sword smith. This can be seen at the top most part of the sword.

Hamon

  • This is the tempered line on a sword’s blade. In the picture below, you can see that there are wave-like shapes in the middle of the sword. This part generally distinguishes each type of sword. This is a result of hardening the material to make a sword. Each sword contains different hamon patterns because it is dependent on the hardening process used by the sword smith.

Ha (Edge)

  • This part of the sword is the sharpest one. It is used to cut materials or targets. It is positioned directly below the Hamon. Before buying a sword, you have to carefully examine this part because it will either make the sword work or break. If you notice some hair-like cracks on the Ha to the Hamon, then that blade might bend and break when used to cut hard objects.

Mune (Back)

  • This is the back part of a sword blade.

Make sure that you check these parts before purchasing a sword, no matter what your purpose for it, because a little flaw in any of these parts will surely affect its quality.

How Japanese Swords Are Made

Swordsmithing is Japan is highly considered as an art during the pre-historic era up to this very day. It is a laborious endeavor which does not only require days of sacrifice but weeks and even months. There are some swords that were hand-crafted by a sole swordsmith but it took months before a single sword was produced.

Traditionally, a sword is produced by more than one person. Usually, a swordsmith hires an apprentice to help him produce the sword. Even with more than one person forging the sword, it can take up to weeks before it can be delivered to the buyers. Each sword undergoes several processes before it can be considered as a finished product.

The traditional way of making swords may take long but it produces the best quality swords. Have you ever wondered why there are still swords forged during the 10th century existing somewhere in Japan today? It is because of the high quality of work dedicated by the swordsmiths and his apprentices in making these swords. This dedication resulted to having swords that are unique from each other.

The Process of Making a Japanese Sword

  • Steel Production

The process of producing a sword starts with steel production. The main material used in making the blade of a sword is steel. Particularly for Japanese blades, swordsmiths use the steel called tamahagane. This steel is also known as the “jewel steel” which is a precious kind of steel. This usually comes from iron sand.

After getting the tamahagane, it will be subjected to smelting process. Smelting is the extraction of a base metal from its ore. This process involves heating of the iron sand and combining a chemical reducing agent to produce the base metal. The duration of the smelting process depends on the type of base metal you want to produce.

The smelting process begins by making a clay pot where the swordsmith will put the iron sand. The clay pot is more known as tatara. A tatara can be made within a week so it contributes to the duration of the whole smelting process.

After the tatara has been prepared, the swordsmith will now start a fire using charcoal. When the right temperature is reached, the iron sand is gradually added to the clay plot, creating layers eventually. This process normally takes up to 72 hours. For this process alone, four or more people must take turns in order to completely monitor the entire process.

After the 72-hour process of heating or melting the iron sand, the tatara is then broken to extract the steel bloom. This steel bloom is also known as kera. If the swordsmith used a total of 22 tons of iron sand, it can only produce about 2.3 tons of kera. This 2.3 tons kera will then be able to produce less than 1 ton of tamahage.

This process is followed by the careful breaking of the kera to separate carbon steel. After this is done, the steel is ready to be forged. Forging involves folding of the metal as much as 16 times in order to drive away the impurities that naturally occur after the smelting process. This process is done to ensure the toughness and sturdiness of the finished product.

  • Forging

This is the process of heating, hammering and folding the metal to ensure its toughness and strength. The main reason why Japanese swords are very popular is because of its toughness and strength. When the kera is broken, there will be low carbon and high carbon produced. The low-carbon iron is folded by itself to dispose impurities. This produces a soft metal which will then be used for the central part of the sword’s blade.

On the other hand, the high-carbon iron will be folded in alternating layers to produce a hard metal. This process needs a lot of time since it will be folded more than 15 times to ensure the high quality of the metal to be produced.

  • Assembly

Most of the time, a sword is composed of not only one metal but several types. Many Japanese swordsmiths combined several metals in order to create unique and strong swords. Most of the time, a sword doesn’t come off as a finished product right after forging. Swordsmiths combine different parts of the blade by reheating the metal and assembling is afterwards.

  • Adornment

Although this is an optional process, ancient and legendary swordsmiths made sure to engrave their signature or some designs on the sword’s blade to add to its uniqueness.

  • Polishing

After engraving ornaments and signatures to the blade, the swordsmith will then prepare for the polishing of the sword. After all the heating, folding, and reheating process, the metal will come out with rugged edges. The polishing process will ensure that the finish product will be free from roughness. After this process, the sword will now look shiny and smooth.

  • Mounting

After the blade has been made, the sword is almost complete. The next step is to create the material to mount the blade on. The mount basically serves as a handle and a safety device at the same time. Since the blade’s edge is sharp, it needs to be mounted on something, mostly wood, so that the user can have a better grip of the sword.

This is the final step in making a sword. The blade is wrapped or mounted on another metal or wood called tsuka. The design and style of the tsuka solely depends on the swordsmith making the sword.

After the blade has been mounted, it is now ready for use. However, most swordsmith create an additional housing for the sword known as scabbard. This is a sheath that can either be wrapped in fabric or other material. A scabbard is usually made from wood or metal with serves as a storing case for the sword. This will help preserve the sharpness of the swords blade and its overall quality.

The Best Japanese Sword Foundries, Forges And Swordsmiths

Today, thousands of swords are currently available in the market. This is due to the mass production of swords through modern technology. Because of modern equipment, the swordsmithing process is not as laborious as before. Although some of the traditional means are still preserved, the entire process of sword making has become less time consuming and more efficient.

During the ancient times, it took about a month or two to produce a sword. This is the reason why swordsmiths during that era were considered true artists. However, there are new methods introduced these days that make the sword-making process significantly faster than the traditional way. Nevertheless, swords coming from the both eras are made by great swordsmiths and are of high quality standard.

If you think great swordsmiths only exist in the past, think again. At present, there are still a few swordsmiths that can be closely considered as legendary for making amazing modern swords. You have to know them so that you can choose a sword that is hand crafted only by the best people today. By buying swords made by the best swordsmiths today, would mean having a sword that is a good as those that were manufactured in the 10th century.

These days, swords are most likely bought as ornaments rather than for combat. However, it is still important to purchase good quality sword for a collector’s item because it will have more value to you and even to other enthusiasts. The first step you can take in getting the best sword currently available is by knowing who the current swordsmiths are the best in their field.

Here are some of the most prominent swordsmiths currently operating today:

  1. Yoshindo Yoshihara

Yoshindo Yoshihara is currently the most prominent modern swordsmith. Yoshindo is considered a genius in the modern-day swordsmith community. Yoshindo tries very hard to preserve the ancient traditions of sword making which makes him a very popular person amongst true martial arts enthusiasts.

Yoshindo is one of the few swordsmiths today who have built a workshop to continue the legacy of ancient swordsmiths. His workshop is open for apprenticeship but it is really difficult to get in. For you to become an expert in the field of sword making, you have to undergo training of at least 10 years. You have to have the right dedication, just like Yoshindo, to become a real swordsmith today.

The best thing about Yoshindo Yoshihara is that each process of sword making is exactly done inside his workshop and even the tools used in making the swords are produced in that same workshop. It means that Yoshindo manufactures hand-crafted swords that are made in the traditional way. Because of the intricate procedures, Yoshindo’s workshop can produce each sword in 3 months time. You can expect to have a high quality sword when it is made in Yoshindo Yoshihara’s workshop.

  1. Korehira Watanabe

Korehira Watanabe is also among the few 30 people who have made swords making as their sole career. Watanabe has dedicated most of his life in preserving the traditional way of making swords. Watanabe believes that one can only produce great swords through dedication and sacrifice.

For more than 40 years, Watanabe tried to remake the standard swords made during the Kamakura period. This feat has not been easy for it only showed good results in the past five years. Watanabe proudly said that he have made swords that are as good as those made during the Kamakura period.

Watanabe specializes in making a katana, which has always been a popular type of Japanese sword ever since. His works are very unique and intricate that every penny you spend on his sword will be worth it. You will never regret having Watanabe’s work of art as part of your sword collection.

  1. YariNoHanzo

This foundry is composed of talented and skilled swordsmith who produce the best handmade quality authentic Japanese swords. They have been around for more than 10 years already. This is enough proof of its capacity to make only the best swords currently available in the market.

Now that you know who the best swordsmiths are today, it is just right to proceed with choosing the currently best forged swords in the market.

Here are some of the best-selling swords you can find online today:

Auway Hand Forge Short Japanese Katana Samurai Sword

This is one of the best short-bladed katana swords you can find today. This product is hand-crafted by a swordsmith using the traditional method. The process used to produce this sword includes Annealing, Tempering, Quenching, and other traditional Heating processes that deem appropriate for the sword to be at its best state.

This sword has a Carbon Steel Blade with extremely sharp edge that can cut through hard materials and objects. This sword’s blade is polished using traditional polishing methods which make it more special. With its intricate design, this sword is perfect for a collector’s item.

The blade is 32 centimeters long and the overall length of the sword with its mountings is 53 centimeters, which is a standard size for a Japanese Katana.

Hanwei Limited Edition Musashi Katana

This hand folded sword is among the best modern-day swords ever created. There were only 250 swords produced since it is a limited edition and specially made to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Hanwei.

This sword was inspired by the works of the famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi which makes it even more special. This limited edition sword is hand forged and had undergone strict traditional procedures to get the best end product. The whole designed of the sword was patterned after Miyamoto Musashi’s work, including the silver menuki having the shape of boat oars located on the tsuba.

If you plan on collecting high quality swords, be sure to consider these two products because they are of greatest quality. Even though you might not actually use the sword in battle, it is still nice to have a good one for display purposes. Choose swords that will suit your style and personality. You can find a lot of options online, but make sure to read some reviews before actually purchasing one. It is still best to be knowledgeable about the products you are about to buy to avoid having regrets.

What To Look For When Buying A Japanese Sword

Japanese swords are quite expensive. If you want to use it as a toy, you better think twice. Japanese swords are exclusively made for martial artists and collectors. It is not meant to be played with because it can be extremely dangerous to people who don’t know how to properly handle it.

Japanese swords, especially those that are made using traditional methods, are of great importance not only to the Japanese culture but to the rest of the world as well. These swords have become a major part of Japan’s history and it tells the story of countless battles experienced by feudal Japan to protect the country’s interest.

Points to Remember When Buying Japanese Swords

When buying Japanese swords, whether for collection purposes or martial arts, you have to consider a lot of things. Before you can buy a Japanese sword, you need to know how to spot a fake sword from a genuine one. Today, we are living in a world where everything can be imitated, even eggs. It would be best to look for some benchmarks to follow when buying a Japanese sword to avoid getting tricked by bogus products.

Here are some of the things you should look for when buying any kind of Japanese sword:

  1. Authentic Japanese Swords are expensive

This is true. Authentic Japanese swords are not mass-produced, but rather hand-made. This process involved in making a single sword can take up to several months which explain the expensive price tag of each sword. Normally, an authentic Japanese sword’s price ranges from $12,000 to $25,000. If you are planning to only use this as a toy, you better find something else to play with so as not to waste a huge sum of money.

  1. Check the details of the sword

Since authentic Japanese swords are hand-crafted by swordsmiths, the results are often very detailed, even up to the Kissaki or the tip of the blade. One thing you should check is whether there are traces of forging. In this case, you can check the hamon of the sword and see whether it has a unique pattern or not. Each sword has a different hamon due to being exposed to various methods of traditional sword making which is dependent on the swordsmith manufacturing the sword. If the details seem intricate, then that is probably an authentic sword.

  1. Check the label

This is very important. There are basically more than 10 types of Japanese swords. You have to at least know some basic distinguishing points between all these types of swords so as to avoid buying the wrong one. There are some products that are labeled as a Katana but in reality its shape and form suggests that it is a chokuto. If you don’t have the basic knowledge about these swords, you might end up believing that you actually purchased a Katana.

  1. As much as possible, buy swords made by Japanese swordsmiths.

This is very important. Swordsmiths coming from Japan know so much about the history of these swords and often considers sword making as a sacred work of art. It simply means that Japanese swordsmiths value the art of making a sword more than anyone else. When a sword is made by a Japanese swordsmith, you can be sure of its quality and authenticity.

  1. Check whether the sword has a signature or not

Usually, a hand crafted sword bears the signature of the swordsmith who made it. If you really want to have an authentic Japanese sword, you have to look for the markings made by the swordsmith. It can be found somewhere in the middle of the blade or near the hand guard.

  1. Check the polishing of the sword.

Although this is difficult when purchasing online, you still need to check whether the sword has undergone rigorous polishing or not. For hand made swords, the polishing process is a must to bring the sword to its final shape. Make sure there are not rough edges and cracks on the blade of the sword. Having these flaws can hinder the swords functionality. You have to be very keen in examining the parts of the sword before buying it. If you purchase online, the store usually shows pictures of the actual items so take advantage of that and start examining the product.

Things to Avoid When Buying Japanese Swords

Make sure you do not buy mass-produced swords if you want it to become part of your collection or if you want to actually use the sword in martial arts. Mass produced swords have low quality and have a very low functionality. Although it is still made out of steel, the quality of steel used and the machine-induced process of making the sword cannot be fully trusted.

If you wish to buy authentic Japanese swords, you have to avoid products that have suspiciously low prices. As what have been mentioned earlier, the prices of authentic Japanese swords are quite high. If you are easily tempted by a huge cut on the price, then you should be prepared for the consequences later on.

It is really not necessary to buy expensive Japanese hand made swords if your only reason for buying it is to have a display item. You can even buy a knock-off for that purpose. However, the sword will very much differ in quality, appearance, weight and even its length. But if that’s not a problem for you, you are more than free to buy the low costing swords available online. There are no restrictions and limitations as to what kind of swords you can buy online so you just choose what’s best for you.

If your purpose in buying the sword is for real practice of martial arts, then you should avoid buying stainless steel swords. Stainless steel may be made from “steel” but its quality is never the same with the tamahage. You should invest in an authentic Japanese sword if you do not want your sparring partner to laugh while seeing your sword bend and break in front of his eyes.

Recommended Swords for Collectors and Martial Artists

The most valuable and high priced authentic Japanese swords may not be available for sale online there are still a number of great hand forged swords belonging to the mid-price category. This is because the greatest swords are made directly by the swordsmith for a specific customer. Also, it takes months before a single sword can be produced so it would be impractical to sell only one sword per year online.

If you are a hardcore fan of Japanese swords but do not have enough bucks to buy a sword forged by the most prominent Japanese swordsmiths, it is alright to buy the ones put up for sale online. These products still have amazing quality made by modern swordsmiths.

Here are some of the bestselling Japanese swords online:

  1. Battle Ready Samurai Katana Sword by Handmade Sword

This is currently the bestselling Katana in most online stores today. This product has a handmade quality and is made up of Carbon Steel. It is hand forged by a skilled swordsmith which guarantees its quality. It has undergone heat tempering which is also done in the traditional method of sword making.

This product’s blade has high carbon content which makes it very strong and can cut hard objects like bamboo. As for the tsuba, the materials used are mostly brass, alloy, stainless steel or iron, depending on the design of each sword.

The sword measures a total of 41 inches from the tip to the end of the handle. The blade alone measures about 28.5 inches which can be classified as a long sword. This product can be best used in practice because of its sturdy nature or for display purposes because of its intricate designs and adornments.

This product is priced at $149.99 only.

  1. Authentic Japanese Katana #33 (Samurai X Mugenjin)

This is a relatively pricey sword made by Iai World. They are the leading manufacturer of authentic hand forged Japanese swords today. They only have a limited number of products since each product is made uniquely. Iai World uses the traditional method of producing swords so you can rely on the quality of their products. This sword has a price tag of $523.32.

The blade of this sword is made of a special alloy. Other materials used in making this sword’s blade include zinc, aluminum and brass. As for the sheath, it has a specific pattern and is made out of wood.

This sword measures about 105 centimeters in length which includes both the blade and the handle. The blade only measures 73 centimeters. This product also falls in the long swords category.

  1. Authentic Japanese Katana (Lone Wolf and Cub Sword)

This is another expensive product manufacture by Iai World. This product is a collector’s item. It is made especially for display purposes. Its patterns and designs are well crafted, making it look like more of an ornament rather than a weapon. It has a price of a whooping $1,333.33! This can be a great gift this holiday season.

  1. Nobunaga Handmade Katana Sword

The overall quality of this product exceeds the expectation of many martial arts enthusiasts. Each part of this sword is very detailed and will leave you in awe. Starting from its visual appearance to its functionality, every dollar spent on this $625 sword will be worth it.

This Katana can be best used during practice sessions where you can cut through hard objects. The strength of this katana can cut through a hard object without breaking or even bending. This is all thanks to the high-carbon content blade that comes with it. This sword has a hamon that is patterned after the ancient Gunome Choji style.

Since this is a handmade sword, all its parts can be dismantled and reassembled like a real katana. This will allow you to fully examine each part of the sword and have a deeper understanding of it. This will in turn help you appreciate the sword more.

Some parts of the sword, particularly the tsuba, are reproductions of the actual ancient materials.

  1. Kamakiri Handmade Katana Sword

This Katana emphasizes on the balance between visual appearance and functionality. This product is designed with utmost care to produce only the best patterns in the modern-day period. At one glance, you can easily see the elegance exuded by this product, truly reflecting its price of $625. Although this may be seen as an ornate Katana, it is actually very functional and best fit for aspiring martial artists and expert cavalry.

This sword’s blade is made up of 1095 high carbon steel which allows you to cut through hard objects and targets. It comes with a full tang and had been made using the traditional method of Japanese sword making. The blade alone measures 28 inches, which is a standard for most Katana.

This sword is best used in performing Kendo. It is not that lightweight at 4 pounds but its weight is perfect for an experienced warrior or martial artist.

  1. Shirasaya Handmade Katana Sword

This is another product that is a great value for money. For only $110.00, you can have a fully functional Katana that is best for practice purposes. If you are not fond of doing martial arts, you can also put this up for display since it has a nice and sleek design.

This product’s blade is made of 1060 high carbon, allowing you to cut through hard objects. This is a single-edged sword that will surely be useful in the hands of knowledgeable users. Its blade measures approximately 27.17 inches. The entire sword, with its handle, measures around 27.95 inches.

This is an authentic Japanese hand forged Katana so you can see the exquisite markings and details on almost all parts of the sword. You are really in for a great deal with this product since most Katana are priced three times more than this one.

In choosing a product, you need to carefully consider a lot of things, especially the price. For this set of recommendations, the best value for your money would be the Kamakiri Handmade Katana Sword. Why? Because it serves both purposes of functionality and decoration. After you have finished using the Katana for practice purposes, you can just hang it on the wall to become an ornament in your home. Even though it is priced at $625, you can get more than what you pay for. It is not only made by the most skilled swordsmiths today, but is also one of the few authentic Japanese swords worldwide.

Many users have given positive reviews for the Battle Ready Samurai Katana Sword by Handmade Sword. Mainly because the price of the sword is relatively cheap compared to the other ones mentioned. According to most users, the sword is unexpectedly very detailed for its price. As for its blade, a lot of users were also amazed at the quality and appearance. A few of them commented that it was shiny and sharp. The best part of this sword according to reviews coming from the users is that the sword was totally intact, meaning there wasn’t any part that came loose after a while, making the sword last longer than the expected time frame.

Lastly, the foundry that has exceeded the expectations of most users is that of the famous YariNoHanzo. This is one of the leading foundries for authentic Japanese swords at present. This foundry has over 10 years of experience in producing top-quality Japanese swords that has become a huge hit not only in Japan but in Western countries as well. They only use the traditional method in making their swords so that you get the best quality there is. This foundry is also geared towards preserving the sacred art of Japanese sword making, just like the other two foundries previously mentioned above.

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