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If you or a loved one is passionate about weapons, antiques or Japanese history, a samurai sword would make a great wall decoration or gift. While there is a great difference in quality of the steel, handle, decorations and strength, you could find authentic samurai swords for upwards of $250. If you see lower prices they are most likely not real steel or well put together.
The Katana or Samurai Sword (left) and Tachi sword (right).
The samurai sword is more precisely called a Katana, is only one of several types of traditional Japanese sword. It is less curved than a Tachi sword, has a single edged blade, circular or squared guard, and long grip to accommodate both hands. Since this type of sword was generally used by samurai, it developed its unofficial name.
Samurai swords varied in size and shape over the 2,000 years it has been used. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the blades were about 70 to 73 cm in length. The 16th century, saw the blade shrink to 60 cm but as the 17th century neared, the average length returned to approximately 73 cm or nearly 29 inches. Older blades were straighter, longer and double edged, as more samurai used horses, the blade needed to become more curved and shorter due to the necessity of drawing the sword while riding.
While one sword or a set make for a beautiful wall decoration, be aware that especially the high quality blades need care and maintenance. If the samurai sword is not stored edge facing upward, well-oiled, powdered and polished, it may become irreparably damaged. Natural moisture residue from the hands of the user will rapidly cause the blade to rust if not cleaned off. If stored for long periods, it is important for the sword to be inspected frequently and aired out to prevent rust or mold. Mold may feed off the salts in the oil used for polish.
When purchasing a samurai sword, it’s important to first understand local laws about buying, selling or carrying the sword in public. The UK has certain laws concerning curved blades of 50 cm or more. In your city, they might be considered “concealed weapons”. Always research the dealer (B&M or online) to be sure he is selling high quality swords. Check the company’s return policy and any reviews online from previous customers.