Katana is a weapon that has captivated the world for over 1,000 years. From its Bushido roots to gaining global popularity thanks to Quentin Tarantino’s popular revenge flick Kill Bill, this elegant sword has a rich and fascinating history.
Forged from black iron sand, called tamahagane, through the Tatara-buki method, which was unique to Japan and allowed for rapid reduction at low temperature, the traditional sword making technique sought to achieve three highly sought after qualities: not to break, not to bend, and a razor sharp edge. This unique forging process also creates the distinctive wavy line known as Hamon along the blade, which is considered one of the highest art forms in sword connoisseurship.
A katana’s design is ideal for both the sweeping slashes that were characteristic of mounted warfare and thrusting moves common to on-foot combat. The single-edged blade is able to draw and strike with the same motion, which was essential for the quick strikes and frenzied exchanges of a duel.
As such, a katana requires delicate handling and proper care to avoid damage. It must be stored with the edge facing upward to prevent excessive pressure and kept in a cool, dry place to avoid moisture buildup that could lead to corrosion. Proper storage requires the use of a sheath, called a Saya, which keeps the sword safe when it’s not in use. It’s also important to regularly clean and inspect a katana to ensure it is safe for continued use. Manga Katana collection