Your Cart is Empty

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Japanese Sword

March 24, 2017

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Japanese Sword


If you're looking to buy a new Japanese sword, there are several things you'll need to consider. A high-quality katana can last for generations when properly cared for. But with so many different styles, how do you know which to choose?

Blade Length

When choosing a sword, consider the blade length. After the Edo period, Japanese swordsmiths transitioned to a longer blade for the katana. These katanas were also heavier and featured greater curvature than swords made prior to this period.

Traditional Japanese swords feature three different divisions of blade length:

  • 1 shaku or less (tanto)
  • 1-2 shaku (wakizashi or kodachi)
  • 2 shaku or more (katana or tachi)

For reference, a "shaku" measures 13.96 inches or 35.45 cm.

Sword Type

What type of sword do you want to buy? The Japanese katana is arguably the most popular type. Worn by ancient and feudal class Japanese samurai, it's characterized by its curved, single-edge blade with a guard and long grip.

The Japanese wakizashi is another popular choice. It's smaller than the katana, with many traditional samurai warriors wearing both, When the two swords are worn together, the combination is called a daishō, which translates to "big little."


Should you choose a sword with a bo-hi or without a bo-hi? As you may already know, the bo-hi is a groove carved into the blade's side. It lightens the blade -- to a small degree -- and also makes a distinct whistling noise when the blade is swung.

On the other hand, however, the presence of a bo-hi makes the sword slightly weaker. It's somewhat of a sacrifice, as the bo-hi reduces the sword's weight but at the cost of a small amount of strength.


Consider whether or not the sword is under warranty. Sellers who don't provide warranties on their swords probably sell low-quality products. It is also important to distinguish between those who are just middlemen (e.g., 99% of resellers of Chinese katanas) and those who have their own forges and control the quality of their products (such as MAS Butouken).

Steel Quality

Just because two swords are made of "steel" doesn't necessarily mean they are of equal quality. Some swords are made of higher quality steel than others, offering increased protection from wear and tear.

All of the swords sold here at MartialArtSwords are made using the finest quality Japanese steel produced according to the Japanese Industry Standard.


News & Updates

Sign up to get the latest on sales, new releases and more …