Buying anything online can be a little tricky especially when it comes to things that need to be personally inspected such as electronics, furniture, musical instruments, and antiques. Anyone who is used to purchasing items online knows to be wary of items that are hard to come by, or are priced suspiciously lower than in-store items–collectibles that are just too good to be true. Mediocre and badly-made Japanese swords have become a common occurrence in the market these days because of their growing popularity worldwide. These kinds of katanas are usually made in other countries, neglecting the care and attention that Japanese swordsmiths give to their creations.

About the Katana

The Japanese sword katana is one of the most well-known historical weapons. If you don’t know much about it, you probably would have at least heard about it. Katanas are considered a collectible item because of the history behind their use from around 150 to 400 years ago. Katanas are traditionally made with a type of special Japanese steel called tamahagane. This, combined with the laborious smelting process behind one katana results in a tough weapon with a sharp edge.

When it comes to collectible antique katanas, it’s best to do a thorough inspection to ensure the quality and the make, as well as confirm the authenticity of the item. 

Samurai swords

The Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum offers authentic Japanese swords and accessories online and at the physical store in Kyoto.  For online customers, it is recommended to schedule a zoom call to have a proper introduction on the swords, proper sword handling and care, as well as have a proper viewing of the katana. After all, anyone would want to know exactly what they’re buying, right?

Alternatively, for admirers of samurai history and the beauty of the katana or any Japanese sword, replicas are also available and are a cheaper option. The appearance is still somewhat the same save for the edge of an antique sword whereas replicas will have a blunt edge.

Before purchasing a sword at The Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum’s online store, please be aware that the processing time may take up to three months for authentication, paperwork, and shipping. You can read more about this at the bottom.

Authentic Swords at The Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum

samurai & ninja museum

samurai & ninja museum

The Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum is a Kyoto based establishment that exhibits artifacts and collectibles related to Samurai history, with the goal to share the spirit, culture, and craftsmanship of the Samurai in Japan. The Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum shop deals in authentic Samurai swords, armor, and traditional crafts made in Japan, and offers free international shipping to its customers. 

Here, you’ll find a number of real Japanese swords such as the famous katana, as well as other types such as the tachi, the wakizashi, and the tanto. These swords can be purchased through The Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum Shop site online or at the physical store in Kyoto.

Katana

Antique Japanese Katana by Emmanuel H.

Katana or the uchi-katana was a weapon designed to stab or thrush in the Muromachi and Edo Period. It is relatively shorter than the tachi and was used for ground fighting, challenges, and to carry out the law by the samurai. 

In feudal Japan, high-quality katanas are often gifted by lords to their subordinates as a token for achievements during the war. These Japanese swords are regarded today as works of art and great craftsmanship, making the katana the most famous and sought after item–some of which are considered national treasures. 

Tachi

Tachi - Hyougokusan style sword mounting by Kakidai

Tachi – Hyougokusan style sword mounting by Kakidai

Tachi would often be used to refer to longer, more curved swords. These are the weapons used by armored samurai on their horses during the Heian and Muromachi Period. This kind of sword is older and holds a more prominent curve. These antique swords were once believed to house spirits that guide and protect their individual samurai.

Wakizashi

Edo Period Wakizashi by Chris 73

Edo Period Wakizashi by Chris 73

Wakizashi is a short blade that measures about 30-60 cm and was designed for close combat or in small rooms. These smaller weapons served as a form of protection for samurai when entering castles where katanas are prohibited. The wakizashi became more prominent in the Edo Period when samurai were required to wear a katana and a wakizashi to identify themselves as military personnel and officers.

Tanto

Tanto

Tanto

Tanto is a shorter blade in comparison to the wakizashi and was used as supplemental weapons as well but to samurai riding horseback for when they have to fight in close combat in the Kamakura and Muromachi Period. Tanto blades were often given as gifts to brides at a traditional Japanese wedding, as it was believed to provide sacred protection and ward off evil spirits.

Sword Maintenance and Accessories

Samurai Museum

When purchasing a sword at The Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum, a Zoom call is recommended to be scheduled to get a briefing on the care and maintenance of the sword. There are specific rules and guidelines to properly preserve the valuable antique blade. 

Setting up a time for a virtual meeting helps to provide a clear and thorough explanation for the preservation and upkeep of the sword of your choosing. 

Things to Consider

When deciding whether or not to buy a katana or any item considered as a weapon, make sure to check on the laws surrounding ownership of such items. Katanas in some countries are illegal or have very tight restrictions, some needing specifications and details on the make just to own one, much more with selling. In Japan, there are severe restrictions placed on the ownership and sale of katanas, even limiting only a handful of swordsmiths to make just a few a year. This serves as a contributing factor as to why true Japanese swords are so expensive and hard to find.

For sword owners in Japan, katanas are required to come with the correct paperwork and license for possession which are registered with the police. Much like guns, it is mandatory to secure them in a safe and avoid openly displaying them.

Exporting Japanese swords from Japan is still somewhat of a long process, which is why it might take a while to arrive. Besides the license for possession needed to own a katana, there is a separate export license obtained from the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

More on The Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum

The Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum is a family-friendly establishment specializing in providing the best ninja and samurai experiences in Kyoto. Besides katanas, you’ll find a number of opportunities to get up close and personal with the history of ninjas and samurais with the different engaging tours and personalized experience packages on site.

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