Date Published: 2015-05-18

How to Buy A Samurai Sword

By Adelia Ladson

Here’s just a little bit of history about the Samurai, first, before I talk about making your sword purchase. The Samurai were an aristocratic warrior class in feudal Japan. They actually carried two swords as part of their dress. The katana, which was their primary weapon, and the wakizashi, which was a shorter sword used for close quarter combat, were called the Samurai’s “daisho.”

This is a beautiful example of a katana's decoration.
Japanese Katana This is a beautiful example of a katana's decoration.
Now, the first thing to consider when buying a Samurai sword is do you want a katana or a wakizashi? Both of them are equally fine Japanese swords to own but the katana has more length. Of course, there’s always the option of buying a set of Samurai swords so you don’t have to choose.

The next thing that needs to be taken into consideration is display versus functional. Are you looking for a sword to use or just as a decorative item to wear or display? Beware because just because a katana is beautiful on the outside does not mean it won’t cut you if you’re not careful. However, there are swords that you can buy that have a blunter edge because they are really only meant for display. Let me make this point really clear. If you buy a sword that is functional and sharp but you abuse it instead of treating it with respect, it will disappoint you. In otherwords, I do not recommend banging it against a tree to see if it will cut the wood. There are so many other fun things you can try it out on like watermelons.

Once you decide to what purpose you will be using your sword, then, take a look at the different variety of designs and ornamentation that can be found. To me, that’s the fun part. I believe you can find almost any color of scabbard and handle wrapping. The tsuba, which is the hand guard at the top of the blade, is also crafted in a variety of designs. So, go ahead and choose the katana or wakizashi that fits your personality, style and budget.

This is a close-up look at a Damascus steel blade.
Japanese Katana This is a close-up look at a Damascus steel blade.
That brings me to the last thing you need to consider – your budget. How much are you looking to invest in your Samurai sword? The value of the sword is most often based on the construction of the blade and the material it’s constructed out of. If you are just looking for a display or costume piece that is relatively inexpensive, then you can purchase a basic stainless steel sword. Stainless steel is highly rust resistant, so, for display, it’s an excellent choice. But do remember, that if you get it and then decide you want to use it as a functional sword, it may not meet that need. You can spend just a little more and get a sword of high carbon steel, which is better quality, and would be both functional and displayable. The Cadillac of blade materials is Damascus steel. Not only is it strong and holds an edge really well, but the signature pattern on the blade makes it stunning. I would consider a katana or wakizashi made of Damascus steel to be the ultimate dual purpose sword, so, it really is worth considering, even if it is on the higher end of your budget.

Buying a Samurai sword is an investment of both your time and money. Make sure you think about it carefully so that you will be happy with your purchase.

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