Japanese sword FAQ
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Japanese sword
Are you an expert sword collector or are you just starting to love Japanese sword collecting? But whether you a novice collector or not, surely you also have some queries about your hobby. Here are some answers to Japanese Sword Frequently Asked Questions:
• What is a Japanese sword?
Japanese swords are the swords used in feudal Japan. Swords were very useful during warfare and were considered the deadliest weapons in those times before firearms like guns were introduced.
The earliest recorded swords that Japan had owned were those of Queen Himeko during the Wei Dynasty. These were a gift from China. Since 280 AD, swords were imported to Japan from China and Korea until the Japanese had learned for themselves the art of making and forging swords.
Masamune (of Kamakura and Nanboku-chu eras) was hailed as the greatest swordsmith in Japanese sword history.
• How do you make a Japanese Samurai sword?
Japanese sword makers would give you the most detailed procedures, but they would less likely to share their secrets. Anyhow, here are the basics in Japanese sword making.
o A mix of scrap high and low carbon steel are used to make the blade of the sword. They are hammered into flat sheets then put in a forge (an industrial oven) to be heated and melted.
o The sheet is cooled and hammered again to remove its impurities. Then, it is folded into layers and is reheated to the forge. Repeated process of heating, hammering, and water quenching is done until desired quality and thickness of the blade is achieved.
o To strengthen the edge of the blade and to create the hamon, the blade is coated with clay and heated in very high temperature and quickly quenched into water. Hamon is that wave-like pattern found distinctively in Japanese swords.
o The blade is polished and sharpened and the tip of the sword called kissaki is formed through sharpening.
o The last part is the installation of the other parts of the Samurai sword such as the handle or tsuka and some other ornaments. For a perfect fit, the saya or scabbard is made when the sword is completely done.
• What is the difference between a Ninja Sword and a Samurai Katana sword?
The distinction between a Ninja sword and a katana are the following:
Firstly, the ninjas are still believed to be a myth as to no proof was ever presented that they did exist. That means ninja swords or ninjatos are probably mythical.. Samurais on the other hand are truly part of the Japanese history.
However, basing from the descriptions of the swords told in stories, the main difference between a ninja and a Samurai sword is the quality. Ninja swords are inferior to the Japanese Katana swords in terms of sharpness and cutting ability not to mention its beauty. The ninja swords, though originally had slight curvatures, are straighter and are about three inches shorter than Katanas. Ninja swords are also made from low quality materials.
• What is a real Japanese sword?
There are four factors to determine a real Japanese sword.
o First of all, an authentic sword should have undergone forging (heating, hammering, folding, tempering, quenching) which does not happen in mass produced swords. One sword alone could take a long time in forging.
o Second is a full tang or its blade reaches at the end of the handle. Decorative replica swords are not necessarily full tang but for functional swords, this is needed for foundation, support, and durability in every swing and attack.
o The sword must be made of carbon steel. Aluminum or stainless steel is not strong enough to handle the impact in cutting and sword fighting.
o A real Japanese sword should not be heavier than 3 lbs. Remember this is handled during combats, so it would be impractical to bring heavy weapons.
• Where to buy Japanese swords?
There are Hanwei Swords, United Cutlery, Paul Chen Swords, and so on. There are actually a lot of sword shops and you can start looking around in your place. Sword shops online are also widespread but for a starter in sword collecting, it is discouraged that you go for it unless you are an expert in doing business through the web. The best way is still to personally buy the swords so you can take a closer look at the sword details and do a few test swings with them.
• How much will a Japanese sword cost me?
It can be relative, but the same rule in quality goes with the Japanese swords – the cheaper ones can be the worse ones in general. Sometimes though, you get expensive but worthless swords which might mean you are a victim of fraud. If you would buy real Japanese swords, then it could cost you thousands of dollars, much more if you want antique Japanese swords.
To know of the price, just click on websites that sell swords and sword parts and compare them with one another. By that you can see certain ranges in price and may guide you which are too cheap and too costly.
• How do I get trained to handle the Japanese sword?
If you want to get more serious than just sword collecting, then you can start learning japanese sword fighting techniques The best way is to find a sensei (teacher) or enroll in a school specializing martial arts that involve using Japanese fighting swords. There you will learn how to handle swords the right way, learn more about self-discipline, and the principles of a martial artist.