Samurai Swords have been popular among the fans for quite a long time. Many shows both, animated and non-animated, have added to the fame of the different types of samurai swords. The best part is that there are many conspiracy theories regarding them too, which make them more interesting. Here are a few facts regarding samurai swords that you may have not known before.
Facts About Samurai Swords
Katana-Making Was Considered a Religious Service
Samurai swords are not made like any other sword. Their makers make sure to follow an assortment of rules. Making a katana was considered to be a religious service, and even some emperors took an interest in learning the sacred art of crafting a katana. Traditional katana makers believed that before the forging process, they must be purified. They cleansed themselves by keeping away from sexual activities. Not only this, but they would also go on a pilgrimage.
These acts are followed from the beginning to the end of the sword-making process. To maintain the state of purity throughout the process, they would observe fasts and would stand under waterfalls to recite numerous prayers.
Samurai Swords Were Not Curved In the Beginning
The katana we see today is a curved sword, however, it wasn’t always like this. Katanas were made using a straight blade imported from either Korea or China. With time, the users realized the vitality of using a curved blade instead of a straight one while fighting from horseback. While the katanas were switched to a curved shape, straight swords didn’t lose their appeal and were used by ninjas.
Things Other Than the Blades Play a Part in the Value of the Katana
We seem to only consider the design of the katana sometimes. Do you know that some of the materials used in the making of the katana are also held in high regard? The handguard was valued just as much as the blade, and to many collectors, was the most important part of the katana.
Additionally, people hired experts for the designs of the mountings and the scabbards which also played an integral part in giving the katana its value. The damaged katanas made by famous smiths are seen as more valuable than the newly made swords. If the katanas are found to be made by historic and reputable smiths, they are regarded as priceless treasures in Japan.
Samurai Swords Were Used in World War 2
Another valuable fact is that katanas were used in World War 2, although the swords weren’t trending during those years. It is recorded that the Emperor at the time was a keen supporter of firearms. The importance of katanas to be used in battle declined, and they were limited to being symbolic only.
Even though the katanas weren’t popular in battle, with firearms having become the primary weapons of war, Japanese soldiers still carried them in war. However, there are mixed views about this, as some people say the weapons Japanese carried weren’t katanas, and people mistook them for samurai swords.
The Katana Was Banned After World War 2
When World War 2 ended, the katana was banned. This is considered to be its downfall as banning stopped the large-scale production of the sword. Nothing much changed even when the ban was lifted, and only a specified audience wanted to make, and own a katana. The authorities even kept a full record of the number of swords that were allowed to be made per year. Now, only licensed sword makers are allowed to make the sword, and the quality is equal to the swords made in the 16 century by traditional smiths.
Not Every Japanese Can Own a Samurai Sword
Ordinary Japanese citizens cannot own a katana, and it is considered illegal. However, some can own it if they register with Nihon Token Kai (Japanese sword association). The sword can only be registered with the Japanese Sword Association if it has some historic significance. Citizens that own katanas must also have certificates of ownership and authenticity to avoid getting into trouble.
There are some novels that are based on swords. They have been quite popular in Japanese culture as well.
Katana Underwent Strict Testing in Old Times
The Japanese government set up a department to check the quality of the blades produced and sold. This was known to be done in the Edo period- the period of political stability and economic growth. To determine the quality of the blades, numerous tests were carried out. A master swordsman would use the weapon on offenders of the law.
The tests were mostly ordered by people interested in buying the swords and were very costly to conduct. If the blade proved to be worth buying, and deadly, its value would increase immediately.
Only samurais were allowed to carry katanas. If the lower class people were seen carrying the samurai swords they would be put to death. The katanas were not just any blades but were known to be sacred, and were a symbol of the samurai. They were to be used for special occasions, and important purposes only.
Samurais in ancient times used to name their katanas and believed that they would extend their life. If the samurai is accused of something and lost their honor, then their katanas would be used to take their life. The process was known as seppuku.
Katana Polishers Studied 5 Years to Polish the Blades
The polishing of the katana blade takes a longer time than the making of it, as polishing reveals the true design and worth of the katana. The steel grains which give the katana its awe-inspiring look, are only noticeable after the blade has been thoroughly polished. The polishers used a collection of stones and worked on the steel until it got the perfect shine.
The Katana Wasn’t the Primary Weapon for the Japanese
The Japanese always didn’t use katanas when going to war before. They instead used bows and arrows, and if there wouldn’t be enough arrows, they would use polearms. Later, they distanced themselves from archery and focused on being horse-riding, sword-wielding combatants. The Katana was introduced after the Japanese took an interest in horseback combat. Many of the swords have been a part of fantasy literature too.
Older Katanas Are More Treasured
The makers do not make the katanas as they were made in earlier times, and so older katanas are more treasured. This has mainly to do with the introduction of modern weaponry and its sharp increase in fame. Not only this, but the makers have lost the methods which were used in katanas in earlier times. Katanas have long gone out of use, and are only for decoration these days. This has led the makers to concentrate on the designs rather than the lethality, and power of the sword.
The Art of Katana Making Is Disappearing
The art of katana making is disappearing because of the decrease in demand, and lack of earning from the profession. One must complete a course to be a certified katana maker. However, it takes further 5 years to gain recognition in the market. The only way to get a reputation, and thus a clientele, is by submitting the swords in the annual competition. However, only 30 makers out of 100 are selected.
Surely! The above-mentioned amazing facts have got you thrilled. If you are a sword fan, we recommend that you buy the best swords and add them to your collection. You can find more of them at our Ultimate Guide to Swords. Keep in mind that you should be considering the budget as well as the type of sword you are going for so that you make a purchase that you don’t regret in any way later.