Japan carries such rich heritage and interest in folklore that people worldwide have heard of a Japanese sword at least once in their life. They mostly also wanted to own one at a point in their lives. Japanese culture has influenced many areas of western life and has made its way into western pop culture.
Shows like Samurai Jack on Cartoon Network highly popularized the concept of a samurai and Japanese values of good and bad for western audiences who were predominantly children. For older audiences such as adults, the famed director Quentin Tarantino forever cemented Kill Bill as one of the best action movies of all time in Hollywood’s history.
Kill Bill has become a cult classic and has been liked for its gore and action sequences mainly derived from Japanese martial arts and settings. The main common factor between both Samurai Jack and Kill Bill is the instrument of damage or their weapon. And it is none other than the famed Samurai Sword. Click here to know more about handmade samurai swords for sale.
The samurai sword is one of the most effective weapons in all of history. This is mainly due to the subjects who were traditionally samurais. This article will let you in on the rich history of the Samurai and their famed weapon, which they used to defend their emperors and the land of Japan. We’ll cover the various specifications of what makes a Samurai sword real and how you can differentiate between both.
Table of Contents
The History Of The Samurai And Their Swords
Paragons of virtue, exemplars of honor, beacons of integrity, and masters of warfare, the knights of the east. This is what we generally picture when we think of the Samurai. While it is a stunning view of these legendary warriors, it is nevertheless quite a misleading one. The geographical situation that spawned the Samurai where they did is a unique one in the world.
The Japanese islands are now an archipelago just off the Korean Peninsula. Created in an attempt to wade off invading Mongols and Huns, the Samurai came into existence in the late Emishi period. Samurai is translated to ‘Servant’ or ‘Henchmen’ as they were protectors of the first feudal lords who emerged in a divided Japan.
But these first Samurais are not the ones who used Katanas as the famous ones we know and love. They were more inclined to horseback riding and horse archery to counteract enemy attacks.
Differences Between The Eastern And Western Knights
Samurais were known as the eastern counterparts of the Knights in Europe. Still, unlike the European Knights, Samurais appeared for battle in more significant numbers than the battle tactics that the Knights in Europe followed. Their fighting style with the Katana, later on, was also way different than it was with European knights.
Their European counterparts used swords with only one hand, and their effectiveness depended on the power and flawlessness in the movement of their wrist. For the Samurai, however, the swords were to be held with both hands, and they relied a lot more on the power and momentum of the entire swing of the hand for their combat prowess.
The Samurai, however, died out with Japan’s military tactics and weapons slowly being westernized. This means that guns were chosen over swords and the original metal armor, which served as a uniform for the Samurai, was also slowly let go of. The Samurai began to take up more peaceful roles such as security guards in maritime periods in Japan, tax collectors, and servants in their master’s houses.
The golden age of Samurai has ended, and now the Samurai are just legendary figures of the past who present-day Japanese people try to emulate in terms of honor, value, strength, and courage.
The History And Development Of The Japanese Sword
Using modern names for the swords that came before the first Japanese sword came into existence was the Chokuto. This sword was open to debate whether it was a single edge or a double-edged sword, but historians now say that this sword was a straight single-edged sword.
Its double-edged counterpart was the Tsurugi or Ken which was both curved double-edged and straight doubled-edged. Both swords were about 60cm and existed way before the Samurai themselves. They were more of an adaptation from Chinese culture and warfare. The most famous Tsurugi is the Kusanagi Tsurugi.
The famed Japanese sword that is the Katana is the one that the Samurai used most popularly in their golden age. The Katana was more or less the same design as its predecessor, the Uchigatana, the only difference being its size, swiftness, and weight. Now let’s take a look at how you can differentiate between a real and fake Japanese sword.
Differences Between Real And Fake Japanese Swords
You might have seen Katanas in anime conventions and other Japanese antiquity shops, but you mostly might not have the answer to tell if those are authentic Katanas directly.
Display vs Real
Display Katanas differ from authentic katanas for apparent reasons. A real Katana on unsheathing has a visual image of a thick spine. And they have thick spines as they support the structure of the blade when you deliver cuts, so it doesn’t flex out.
Coming to the width of the blade, an original katana has an inch and a quarter wide blade. Display or fake katanas don’t even reach an inch in build. In terms of weight, the real ones are way heavier than the fake ones. Display katanas are made of aluminum alloys that emulate steel blades but are just not as heavy as you’d want them to be.
Blade differences are a massive distinction between real and fake katanas. Authentic Katanas are made of a variation of steel called the tamahagane, which is produced from a source of iron ore called iron sand. Fake katanas, however, are made of cheap aluminum alloys, which aren’t meant to create damage with a cut.