Your Ultimate Guide On Authentic Japanese Swords For Sale
There’s seems to be a return to a passion for all things unique and authentic. Novelty is the new black and everyone’s jumping in on the idea of learning how to value what’s exceptionally genuine and distinct.
The same is true for Japanese swords. Collector’s items have become the new passion-hobbyist’s pursuit and said swords definitely make the… cut. *Ahem* And rightly so because of their beauty and elegance, alongside their rarity in a world where mass production has itself, become a commodity.
Now, to start you on your journey towards finding bona fide Japanese swords, here’s a guide you can follow on your search for true Katanas.
FAQs About Japanese Swords
1. Steel Type
Although the entirety of the sword, from its blade to its handle are exquisitely made, it’s safe to say that the blade is ultimate what “makes the sword”, as it were. Thus, pay close attention to it when spotting authentic ones from ones that are not.
The type of steel is a tell-tale sign of the quality of the sword itself. And quality is just as well a tell-tale sign of whether it’s the real deal or is a shameless copycat of the original. What material should you watch out for then?
Carbon steel. Let’s include the word “always” in there. When it comes to Japanese blades, carbon steel is always the material fashioned to make it what it is. It’s among the strongest, most shock-resistant metal alloys there are.
They’re durable and is less likely to succumb to rotting after a period of time, unlike other types of steel. These reasons are why they’re the finest type of material for Japanese swords. You may have come across other swords that have Damascus steel, high carbon steel, industrial tool steel, etc. These have their own unique properties as well. But for this post, we’ll focus on Japanese blades alone.
2. Ideal Weight
Not many have an idea about what the “right” weight of a sword should be. There IS a number that you should watch out for and it’s 3. Three pounds and below. Three pounds is the maximum weight of a sword.
In the event that you come across a few that are much heavier than this, then you know they’re not the authentic kind. Frequently, heavy-weighted blades are so because they consist of a mixture of carbon steel, and other lower-grade metals and substances.
Accordingly, sellers should have weighing scales and measuring tools at hand. Why are these needed? Because only through them will you be able to tell how much a sword weighs. There’s no other method. Looking at them simply isn’t enough. At the same time, it won’t be wise to merely rely on descriptions you see online.
For good measure (get the reference?), sellers will never cease to list down exact measurements of each sword they have. It’s almost a must if you will. And we’re talking specifics. The length and width of the blade. The width and the thickness near the handle. The blade’s level on the hardness scale. All of these, and more, should be transparent.
4. Full Tang
Here’s a term you have to familiarize yourself with, along with what it implies. Japanese swords have a full tang and there’s no exemption here. What this means is that the entire blade is run through its handle. It isn’t stuck on or welded at the tip, or even halfway.
One sign you can look for to find out if the swords you’re eyeing have a full tang is to pinpoint where the bamboo mekugi is. This functional accessory is a kind of balancer that secures the blade where it is and is an excellent appendage to said blade precisely because it goes all the way into the handle.
False advertisers might mention the “full tang” phrase but unless you set your eyes on the bamboo mekugi that should absolutely be there, then that’s your cue right there.
5. Spine Hamon Line
Another term to be acquainted with. If you’ve come across pictures of authentic Japanese swords, you may have noticed that they have this wave-like pattern or design close to the spine. This isn’t for decoration. It’s a result of a natural clay tempering technique.
Swordmakers, whenever they fashion the blade, temper, thicken, and harden it utilizes said technique so that the outcome will be that of a sword that has strength and sturdiness unlike any other.
What happens here is that the process itself creates these wave-like from on the spine of the sword and becomes evident especially after its cooled.
Don’t worry. This isn’t a defect. In fact, it’s an indication of the sword’s authenticity in terms of materials, and its authenticity in terms of the moulding and shaping technique applied to it.
6. Handle Bind
Now that you’ve confirmed the material of the blade, the technique applied in shaping it, its weight, length, and Hamon line, the next feature to pay attention to is its handle. Handle binds are always tight. No loose strings coming off and whatnot. And yes, even if the sword itself is aged.
It’s one of the marvels of the features of Japanese swords. The exquisite detailing and the dedication to perfect the craft— they all shine through the swords’ make. It’s telling of both the quality of the materials of the handle alongside the expertise of the craftsman.
The Tsukaito, the original Japanese term for “handle bind”, also has to have uniformity in its aesthetic. True, a number of them have intricate designs hand-woven or plated around the handle. But along with creativity, uniformity is characteristic of these swords.
Carefully examine the way that the weaves intertwine with one another from one end of the handle to the other, and around it. You should be able to easily distinguish a consistency in the patterns, and consistency in the manner in which the patterns are woven or wrapped around the handle.
A final tip— even if you find THE sword that has your full attention from the moment you set your eyes on it, don’t zero in on it yet. Compare it with other Japanese swords regarding build and price. If you can get a second opinion about it from some else knowledgeable about such swords, the better.