In this day and age, when samurai are no longer fighting for the honor of their kingdom, the Japanese Swords for sale is still in great demand. Even not only Japanese citizens, but people in various parts of the world are also starting to be interested in the artistic value, beauty, and mystique of the katana.
Many weapons circulated in Japan, but the katana—the sword of the samurai—Japanese swords for sale became the only weapon that could survive in the minds of the Japanese people.
Shogun or Japanese general Tokugawa Ieyasu who ruled in the 17th century called the iconic shape of the katana arches like “the soul of a samurai.” It symbolizes the warrior’s devotion to his artistic sense.
For more than a thousand years, Japanese swordsmiths have assumed that responsibility, leading the world to standards of craftsmanship, beauty, and mystique.
Currently, more than 100 swords produced during the initial period, have earned National Heirloom status. Embedding this status reflects Japan’s love for its ancestral heritage. This was also done because of the insistence of preservation because many katana swords were lost during World War II and during the Allied occupation.
before the Japanese samurai began fighting with the Tanegashima (a kind of rifle) in 1543, the Japanese samurai fought using the katana, a sword known throughout the world. So, how about the history of the katana in Japan? Come on, let’s explore!
Before studying history, of course, it’s better to know the katana first, right? Well, the katana (刀 or ) is a variant of the Japanese sword (日本刀 nihontō) used by Japanese samurai. The katana is described as a sword of impeccable appearance: a single-edged curved sword measuring approximately 24-28 inches with a round or square handguard and a long handle that fits comfortably in two hands. This hand-guard or tsuba is usually decorated with various symbols of gods and the signature or mei of the sword maker.
So let’s get into the history!
The Entry of the Sword to Japan
Apparently, before the Japanese succeeded in making the first katana, swords were brought into Japan from China and Korea. Well, around the end of the 10th century, Japan began to cut off its relationship with these two countries and began to stand alone. At that time, Japan’s first samurai began to appear and the Japanese began to look for ways to make their own swords.
Amakuni, Japan’s First Katana Maker?
Although there is no clear evidence as to who designed the katana to have its current shape, making it change from a “straight” sword to a curved one, it is dangerous but beautiful. There is a legend that says Amakuni was the first sword maker to make such a sword around 700 AD. He saw many samurai returning from the battlefield with broken swords, especially after fighting the Mongolian army. That’s why Amakuni began to design new samurai swords that were hard to destroy. By using iron powder, he made the new sword curved, more optimally used to slash enemies.
Well, it is said, Amakuni did not die you know. The myth says that he became immortal because he absorbed the blood from the swords he made.
The Victory and Use of the Name Katana
The name “katana” itself began to be used to describe a long sword (Uchigatana) as distinct from a Tachi in the early Kamakura Period (1185–1333). In this era too, the manufacture of katana increased rapidly, even this era is called the “Golden Age of Swordmaking.”
Sales of Japanese swords also reached their peak during the Muromachi Period when about 200,000 Japanese swords were sent to the Ming Dynasty in China as a form of official exchange aimed at gathering seize and gathering all Japanese weapons production and making it difficult for pirates in the region to arm themselves with this type of weapon.
Well, samurai from the 1500-the 1600s began to feel the need for a sword that could be used in close and indoor combat. Because of this, the Uchigatana began to be distributed to the samurai.
As the war continued, these Uchigatana-style swords evolved into the katana we know today, almost replacing the Tachi as the samurai’s number one sword, especially when they weren’t wearing armor. High demand also made the variety of Tachi shortened in the 1500-the 1700s to fill the demand for katana.
Unfortunately, the art of sword making was slowly declining with the introduction of gunpowder and the use of rifles as the main weapon on the front lines of war. Towards the end of the Muromachi era, the Tokugawa shogunate began to control who could own and use a sword, defining the standard for nihontō swords.
After World War II, sword manufacturing and martial arts related to the sword were banned in Japan. Many swords were confiscated and destroyed, and sword makers were unable to make a living. Since 1953, swordsmiths have also been allowed to make swords with the rules that they must have a permit and only those who have a permit are allowed to produce Japanese swords (Nihonto). The number is also limited, they are only allowed to produce 2 long swords (katana) per month, and all swords must be registered with the Japanese Government records.
Meanwhile, western swordsmiths began producing modern katana using modern steel, such as L6 and A2. This modern sword is made similar to the shape and size of the Japanese katana and is used by martial arts experts for iaidō and cutting training (Tameshigiri).
Swords such as iaitō and Shinken in katana form were also produced on a large scale and available in various countries, although China was the dominant one. These swords were made by a variety of different methods.
Well, that’s the history behind the katana, the famous Japanese samurai sword!