One of the most important things to consider when buying a sword is the region in which it was manufactured. Different countries use different techniques and materials to produce swords. In terms of quality, though, Japanese swords usually come out on top.
#1) Attention to Detail
From intricate ridge lines (shinogi) to signatures, notches and microstructures, traditional Japanese swords boast an exceptional level of detail. They are meticulously crafted, with the swordsmith putting his heart and soul into crafting the blade. In fact, some Japanese swordsmiths dedicate their entire lives to creating these detailed works of art.
#2) For 1,000+ Years, Little Has Changed in Japan's Swordmaking Craft
Japan perfected the art of swordmaking back in the Heian period (794 to 1185) and Kamakura period (1185 to 1333). Since then, little has changed. Swordsmiths here continue to produce the same exceptional quality swords as they did more than 1,000 years ago. Other than the advent of new tools to streamline the process, very little has changed in Japan's swordmaking.
#3) The World's Highest-Quality Steel
Japanese swords are made using the world's highest-quality steel, including tamahagane steel. Made of iron sand, it contains a higher concentration of carbon than traditional steel. Some of Japan's early tamahagane swords contained around 3 to 4.5% carbon. The use of high-carbon steel allows for stronger, more durable Japanese swords.
Of course, other countries may offer tamahagane steel swords, but only Japan offers 100% genuine tamahagane.
#4) Thorough Testing
Before they are sold, Japanese swords are thoroughly tested to ensure they meet quality standards. Even back in the feudal days, katanas and other traditional Japanese swords were tested by slashing and slicing bundles of bamboo. If a sword didn't perform as intended, it was discarded or given back to the swordsmith for adjustments.
#5) Retains Value
Japanese swords are sought after by collectors and practitioners of martial arts alike. Therefore, they tend to hold their value more than other swords.
#6) The Katana
This alone should be reason enough to choose a Japanese sword. Japanese swordsmiths invented the katana, which has since been adopted by other countries. The katana features a unique design that gives it an advantage over other sword types. Normally, the point of balance is higher on the blade, allowing for more efficient slashing. The curved blade of the katana also allows for greater mobility, which is essential on the battlefield.
Photo credit: John