Japanese Swords And The Status Of Katana

Rohan Mathew

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Japanese Swords And The Status Of Katana

The Japanese swordsmiths are known for their fine craftsmanship around the world. Over the centuries they have mastered the art of making this magnificent weapon. They have refined the designs of these swords in every era and produced a finished product that had great importance in the history of Japan. 

Some commonly known Japanese swords are katana, tachi, odachi, wakizashi, and tantō. These swords have different anatomical features. Production of these swords did not begin simultaneously; instead, they evolved from one form to another. 

The Features Of A Sword:

The Japanese swords have unique blades. Each having different characteristics depending upon the swordsmith and the methods of production. Its middle ridge is called shinogi in Japanese. The shinogi is the most important part of the sword. A shinogi that is narrowing towards the edges is called the shinogi-hikushi, while a flat blade is called shinogi-takushi.

The mountings of the swords, the scabbard is called saya and the handguard piece is called a tsuba. These were hand crafted with intricate art and designs. Decorative work on the mounting was to give a personalised touch to the sword. 

The sword has a signature from the swordsmith on the tang. The signature is inscribed but it can still be forged considering how old the swords can be. The signature or mei has the name of the province, name of smith and a date of manufacture. 

Shaku is a unit of measure for Japanese swords. Anything less than one shaku is classified as a knife or dagger. Between 1 and 2 shaku is classified as a shoto whereas any sword longer than 2 shaku are long swords or daito

Blades that are carried at the back are longer than 3 shaku and they are called odachi

The swords can also be curved depending on the type of sword.

The Status of Katana

Katana or uchigatana is the samurai’s unrivaled weapon. Crafted to perfection by experienced swordsmiths, it has unparalleled sharpness and strength. Being one of the most feared weapons in the postmodern era, it is still held in high regard. 

The katana required great skill to be produced perfectly. High carbon folded iron was used to produce katana. This method gave it high tensile strength and did not let it bend when used in attacking a rival. This gave birth to the tradition of collecting heads by samurais. It can shred apart the neck of an enemy effortlessly. 

The sword’s curved shape helped it to be used in combat. The arched katana cuts through the bones and flesh because of its shape and the speed at which it was used. The sword gained notoriety not only because of its craftsmanship but also due to the skills of the Samurai warriors. 

The samurai skills and bravery made them one of the deadliest warriors to fight with. They were known to guard and protect fiercely. The training of a samurai began in childhood and they were trained in “Kendo” or “the way of the sword”. If it were not for the samurai’s expertise, the katana would have failed to make such an impact on history.