Japanese Swords

Japanese Swords are traditionally made blade weapons that differ in size, field of application and method of application. The Japanese term used is nihonto. Most commonly known type is the Shinogi-Zukuri katana – a single edged, usually curved long sword traditionally worn by samurai from the 15th century onward.

A special designation given to a sword masterpiece is Meibutsu. These swords are listed in a special compilation from the 1700s called Kyoho Meibutsucho. 100 of the 166 swords mentioned are known to still exist today. The list also mentions characteristics, price and nicknames of swords. Swords by Yoshimitsu, Masamune, Yoshihiro, and Sadamune are especially expensive.

The forging of a Japanese blade typically took weeks or even months and was considered a sacred art. As with many complex endeavors, rather than a single craftsman, several artists were involved. There was a smith to forge the rough shape, often a second smith (apprentice) to fold the metal, a specialist polisher (called a togi) as well as the various artisans that made the koshirae (the various fittings used to decorate the finished blade and sava (sheath) including the tsuka (hilt), fuchi (collar), kashira (pommel), and tsuba (hand guard)). It is said that the sharpening and polishing process takes just as long as the forging of the blade itself.

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