An icon of the Japanese tradition, a symbol of the Samurai warrior, the Katana is an ancient weapon to behold. This weapon is so technologically advanced in its structure and so beautiful in creation that it gave rise to a whole noble warrior creed. It is the only weapon in the world that is regarded to have a spirit of its own and reckoned as the best type of sword in the world by many due to its perfect combination of balance, beauty and lethality.
The Anatomy of the Katana.
A conventional Katana sword has a blade length ranging from 60-80 cm; its mass is between 1 to 2 Kg and is a moderately curved Japanese sword. The Katana is a distinguished weapon in appearance, having a curved, slender, single-edged blade with a circular or squared guard. It boasts a long grip to accommodate two hands, although light enough that it can be swung by one hand too. It is conventionally forged from a unique type of steel the Tamahagane, exclusive to the Katana sword. This steel has a slight percentage of carbon, giving the katana its flexibility and shock-absorbing qualities to fend off heavy blows. The outer edge of the sword is made of pure steel with very low levels of impurities, the result being a strong and razor-sharp edge, but the core is made of a soft and flexible material, giving it both flexibility and sharpness. But not only the traditional Tamahagane steel made swords have these qualities, the modern made swords from tempered or folded steel also preserve these traits.
What you need to know about the Scabbard.
The sheath for a Katana too is distinguished in its own place. The more ornate and decorated scabbards are called Koshirae; these were decorated mainly to represent the family of the sword-bearing Samurai. The simpler wooden made scabbards are called Shirasaya. Made of lacquered wood they were plain wooden sheaths and were typically featureless, although sometimes some information was ingrained on the wood.
How to care for the sword?
The Katana was a staple for the Japanese Samurai. Whether in the battlefield or in times of peace, the Katana was to be used every day: for training, martial arts or to carry out the state duties which sometimes involved amputating or even decapitating a criminal. Being used every day, the Katana also needed its care and careful handling. If mishandled in its storage or maintenance, the katana may become permanently damaged. The blade is traditionally stored horizontally in its scabbard, curve down and edge facing upward to maintain the sharpness. Constant oiling being a must, powdering and polishing on a regular basis keeps the sword safe from rust, as the natural moisture from the hands of the sword-bearer will rapidly cause the blade to rust if not cleaned. After all, the spirit of the Katana needs care.
The Katana sword symbolizes sky-high levels of expert craftsmanship and also the history and the discipline of the Japanese culture. Being a revered weapon even today, the Katana commands a high price and respect on the international level.