The Katana has long been considered an iconic sword in world history. Aside from being an important symbol of Japanese culture, its popularity among swordsmenship enthusiasts also makes it highly desirable as an object for purchase.
A katana’s unparalleled cutting performance can be attributed to meticulous craftsmanship. The process involves forging, shaping, hammering and tempering steel before it is then fitted with its Saya (sheath).
Swords made prior to 900 AD are known as soujiyi or ancient swords, having straight blades. These do not fall under the category of nihonto which refers to swords with single-edged curved hilts.
During the Jokoto era, blacksmiths were still honing their craft. One such blacksmith was Nagasone Kotetsu who created katanas renowned for both strength and beauty.
Samurai warriors of this period lived by a code that valued death over defeat, believing that one strike from their swords could bring swift and certain defeat for their enemies. This philosophy gave rise to an iconic weapon: the katana. These qualities came to define its use among warriors of this class; later its shape began evolving from its Kanbun roots; with deeper koshizori blades, narrow kissakis narrowing to compact chu-kissakis and flowing gorgeous choji-midare designs among its hallmarks.
The Muromachi Period (1333-1573) marked when Japan’s feudal government, known as shogunate, relocated its seat from Edo back to Kyoto under the control of Ashikaga clan during this era. Additionally, this time is sometimes known as Ashikaga Period or Muromachi period depending on context.
Samurai had an enormous influence on Japanese culture. Muromachi culture first reached its zenith under Yoshimitsu Ashikaga as Kitayama culture before gradually evolving into Higashiyama culture during Sengoku Period of sixteenth century Japan.
Renga poetry – an era-defining form of waka that joined together the first and last stanzas – was widely practiced during this era, particularly among samurai soldiers who would gather at temples or shrines to host parties featuring Renga poetry with other daimyo and nobles. Additionally, this period witnessed the introduction of Wakizashi sword companions.
As Edo was a period of peace, swordsmiths began focusing on artistic qualities for their swords. These included gorgeous blade patterns known as Hamon (blade patterns) and intricate fittings (Koshirae).
This era saw the rise of master smiths like Kotetsu Nagasone who utilized tamahagane steel–an unconventional form that is created by layering different carbon concentrations with heat before folding and welding together into one sheet–for their blades, creating deeper curves while increasing durability. This technique led to wider blade curves as well as longer lasting edge durability.
A katana’s hilt is traditionally wrapped with ray skin and bound with silk for maximum comfort when gripping it, and its sheath – called a saya – may be simple or elaborate depending on its owner. Crafting one is considered sacred, showing one’s dedication and passion towards their craft.
The katana has long been associated with samurai warriors and honor duels in film and popular culture, but bows and spears were far more effective weapons for open warfare.
Shinto is a polytheistic religion with a significant focus on maintaining purity through cleansing practices before worshipping kami deities. Shinto also recognizes older things with reverence.
Shinto derives its name from two Japanese characters shin (spirit/soul) and to (way). Shinto Muso-ryu does not have a central authority and dojos can pass down tradition in their own ways, thus providing for a variety of different styles to emerge over time. Do not confuse this practice with state Shinto that became prevalent during Meiji era Japan.
Modern swords crafted by contemporary Japanese smiths are generally known as Gendaito and classified according to their production time period; sometimes referred to as Shinsakuto.
This Gendaito shin gunto was manufactured at the end of WWII and comes equipped with its original leather combat cover and is unsigned; however it does feature a silver family mon to the tang.
One of the first books dedicated exclusively to Gendaito swords, this high quality publication covers an extensive array of smiths. Each blade cross-references to Hawley’s, Toko Taikan and Shinto Jiten for easy reference – an essential item for anyone interested in Gendaito era swords!