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Japanese Sword Q&A Open Forum


Omnipotence personified
15 Mar 2003
This thread is open to the general public to post and answer questions or general information about the Japanese sword. Please take the time to read the Japanese Sword Q&A before posting here.

From time to time JREF staff may copy questions and answers from this thread onto the Japanese Sword Q & A thread. If selected, you will recieve credit though your post may be edited. Also we will only transfer posts with expressed permission so don't let that stop you from posting 🙂:

Let the games begin!

=> Japanese Swords Q&A | Japan Forum
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I think I'll stick this here.

Have a look at this film. it is even in Japanese 🙂:

Just to show the West is not the only perpetrator of the myth of the Japanese sword. Ya gotta love it!

Note the sensationalization - the test looks scientific. The big man even gives a count down! 🙂: The bullet smashing the cinderblock looks cool, but a cinderblock is much softer than steel. That is why tanks are made of steel and not cinderblocks.

Yes, the sword does survive - not surprising since it takes the hit along the strongest line possible and from a material softer than the sword. A hardened garden tool could achive the same result.

So what does it prove? That if everything is exactly perfect - or if the sword wielder can move a few times faster than the speed of sound - a sword can split a bullet. But notice no one offered to hold the sword while someone shot at them...I think you could win the lottery several times over and be hit by lightning (deer hate lightning) before you could split a bullet with a sword.
I just read the Katana Q & A, and I have a comment about the blade's curve. This was not intentionally developped and originated due to the technique they used for forging. When the blade was covered with "clay" (this was actually a mixture of clay, water, charcoal, and polishing grit) and it was submersed in water/oil, the part of that blade that was not covered with clay would contract very suddenly, as opposed to the part of the blade that was covered, which contracted much less rapidly due to having the clay on it (the clay slowed down the cooling process). If you think about it, the reaction is obvious. The part of the blade that cools rapidly will bend under the stress of the cooling, which is what causes the curve. A problem with this originally was that the blade curved a great deal, often a few inches. The way to combat this problem was to scrape off the clay from the spine of the blade, causing it to harden as well, and thus controlling the curve. Anyways, I hope I've helped to better the Q & A, thanks for listening to my rant.
Adrian, Thanks for the post. Do you have a link to an article or two we could put up on forging Japanese swords? I think it would make a nice addition, but we shouldn't get too technical too fast...

Mandylion said:
Q: Why is a Japanese sword curved?
A: The design probably got that way through trial and error.

I think you put it much better than I. Hope people take the time to think about your post. :)

PS - Welcome to JREF, enjoy the boards.
I should also be taken into account that a Japanese sword is not just a cutting weapon. Its curved proporties make it in an excellent thrusting weapon with the curve opening up a wide cut. Some sword schools have these techniques although the Battojutsu practice of Tameshigiri (Testing both blade and user) do not include much in thrusting action.

just a possible slight correction on the blade curve issue from info ive collected over the years, i heard the curve was created due to the fact that earlier swords used two metals of different hardnesses, hence when it was cooled one metal cooled faster than the other causing the blade to curve, it was never intentional, merely a byproduct of the way the blades were made, however adrians explanation above sounds equally (if not more) credible, but i thought id put it in for consideration

I have a question about Japanese swords...

A few years ago, I was watching something on tv about Japanese swords and I thought that I heard something about the swords being "chrom plated". Did the Japanese do this? Thanks
gokarosama said:
For everything you always wanted to know about nihonto
and just to answer the above question, a definitive NO. No Japanese sword was EVER chrome plated.

Nor were they made from 440 stainless steel, but there it is.
Oh certainly you can find all manner of "Japanese swords" now. Even "ninja" swords, which did not exist at all in history until the movies came along. The question was "Did the Japanese do this?" The answer: No.

If the question is "Does anyone make chrome swords that are supposed to look Japanese?" Well, look long enough and you might find anything.
First time here

I just happened upon this site and was wondering if someone could translate an inscription on the tang of a katana I have.

It is a Showa period blade made in 1943. That much I know.
I have some other details of the katana that I have found out while researching about Japanese blades.

Let me know if you can help me.

I was wondering if anyone here could tell me if there are any reputable dealers in naginatas in Kyoto. I have a wakisashi and katana (the katana is a replic and the wakizashi is dated to 1782 - got it from an antique show that got it from a vet who stole it during the occupation).
Note to Little Sinner (if you still read any of these posts), chrome plating may make something look really nice, but it makes the blade almost useless as a cutting edge. Chroming coats the metal and rounds the edges. I have never seen anything chromed that will cut unless the chrome itself is cracked or flaking.
Translate from katana tang please?

I have a katana and I wonder if anyone can tell anything about it from what is written of the tang -- or at least translate it for me? Thanks!

Konnichiwa Bramicus-san!

The center and right picture are the Japanese era name "Syouwa 16 nen". "Syouwa 16 nen" is 1941.

It's Chinese words on the swords , The right one is : 16th year in ZhaoHe Period(Japanese once emulate Chinese method of recording years, In China Tang Dynasty , they usually divided the years using Xth year in XX Period)

The middle one is the same

I am just wondering about the left one , it just means :"NO....." , unclear
Katana is a traditional Japanese sword and was the weapon of samurai. It's length is about one meter, and it's efficiency is based on its sharpness and special cutting technique.

It's been made by using special methods and while it's blade is pretty strong, it can be very sharp.

Despite some katanas used by military, they are always manufactured by hand. The process of katana manufacturing includes a spiritual rite that swordsmith engages into and gives katana it's spirit. Still in Japan there are about one hundred swordsmiths.

Katanas can be manufactured from a junk iron (almost anything will do), and the enforging process includes lots of hammering and twisting and turning. When the blade's steel is enforged to a steel, a special shining and sharpening process takes place.

Katana was the main weapon of samurai. Samurais also carried their second weapon, a shorter dagger-like sword. Technique of the short sword swordmanship is well explained in Yoji Yamada's movie called "Tasogare Seibei" (Twilight Samurai).

Katana is combination of it's blade, special protective plate which protects it's users hands, known as tsuba, and it's handle. Blade is covered by scabbard, which is called saya. It's usually plain black and has a shiny lacquer.

At present in Japan, it is required to have a permission if one wants to posses a katana. Also, trying to transport a real katana through the airport and customs can be tricky. The punishment from trying to fool the authorities can be severe - they might cut your blade in two, practically rendering the katana worthless. So, before you try to move your priceless katana out from the Japan, you'd better to have a proper, written permission.

Hanami Web - Katana
Greetings people

I have just registered to this site, and wanted to say hello and thankyou for having me here. :)
I have studied Martial arts for 18 years, iaido for approx. 15 yrs, and have a passion for Japanese swords.
I am currently in the process of importing half a dozen blades from china ( i am almost certain they are simply chinese WW2 copies, but for the price are still great), and hope to one day trade Japanese swords.
I am studying anything and everything i can find regarding blades, and came across this site.
As i make my journey from Amatuer to knowledgable enthusiast it would be nice to discuss japanese blades with others who share my passion.
If there is anyone who has knowledge of low quality WW2 blades, and WW2 copies it would be fantastic if they might be so kind as to view the pics of these blades and share any thought they might have regarding them.
Some ten years ago i had a beutiful WW2 high ranking officers blade, mint condition, with original surrender tag. Sadly this blade was stolen from me.
It is my hope to in several years purchase a pre WW2 blade, and am looking at blades somewhere around the 5-10 thousand dollar mark.
For now I am purchasing these chinese copies for practical use. Even though WW2 blades are far from amazing, i still would not damage one (if for historical reasons only) by polishing the blade, re-doing the furniture, saya, subre, and overall defacing the weapon :p
With a chinese copy this would not inspire any tears. I simply want a blade for kata, and practise cutting, (apples potatos, and later, rolled tatami mats and bamboo).
Thankyou once again for your hospitality members, mods,
I look forward to discussing Japanese weapons in more depth in the future.
Be well, Paradoks
Input on WW2 Era Blades.

I have no way of knowing how deep your knowledge runs, but caring for ANY sword is a 'given', regardless of its era. They should ALL be cared for and passed on in as good as or better condition than you received it. There is nothing wrong with polishing blades, as long as you know what you are doing and don't take your efforts too far. Obviously, you need some education in this area beforehand, but cleaning up marred or badly messed up blades with the appropriate stones is a source of deep satisfaction.
Although blades made for WW2 are looked down on and not collected in Japan, they are occasionally surprising in their quality and usefulness. Not all were just punched out for average service men; many were made for officers by better-quality smiths, and are nice pieces of work. There is no 'holy grail' about remounting military swords. As a matter of fact, once remounted in older, more 'traditional' furniture, they often make very decent Iaito or practice swords for tameshigiri/test cutting.
That said, the main reason I write this is to make you aware of a very good recent book in English that deals almost exclusively with modern blades, beginning with WW2 ... "Modern Japanese Swords and Swordsmiths" by Leon & Hiroko Kapp, and Yoshindo Yoshihara (who also collaborated on a very nice book some years ago, "The Craft of the Japanese Sword). An outstanding and informative book, it goes on to outline many modern smiths working in Japan. Consider finding this book and you will be pleased with the knowledge and insights you will have gained.
Good luck. David Terrell
Hi, I saw this Q&A in a diferent thread, but it was closed. so I thought of posting here.
I hope it is not wrong :)

Q: Who would win if they fought one another, a samurai or a European knight?
A: Speculation abounds and a few really good sites on the net offer wonderful articles. I encourage everyone to check them out. In short, all anyone can really say is that it ultimately comes down to the people wielding the swords and not any inherent advantage in style or weaponry.

Here the answer says , there are many articles, but doesn't give a correct answer ?
Can someone give me good links for some articles, which has clearly explained about both advantages and disadvantages of Samurai and European Knight.
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