Capturing the spirit of old Japan and recognised by its deadly curvature, the samurai sword is widely recognised throughout the world as the most deadly of all Japanese weaponry. Although gaining modern fame and notoriety in modern epic cinema in such films as The Last Samurai and the Kill Bill series by Quentin Tarantino, samurai swords have long being an iconic symbol of Japan and its history.
The most famous samurai sword, the Katana, is curved and bladed only on one side ? if you have seen Kill Bill, you will know exactly what I'm talking about. The Katana was developed in the 10th century to enable Japanese calvery to carry out surprise attacks on their enemy and was worn hung from the belt with the cutting edge faced upwards.
The craft of forging katana samurai swords peaked during 1190 ? 1337 ? many of the swords from this era we're assigned national treasures. Thousands of swords are still circulated and collected from more recent times; the most popular 'collection' era's being WW1 and WW2. eBay is a great place to find both old and new samurai swords, but beware of what you're buying ? a lot of swords sold today are machine replicas and only fit for display purposes.
There were however many types of samurai swords and the other often mentioned includes shorter swords, one being the wakizashi (shoto) and the tanto knife. Only the samurai were allowed to carry these as a pair.
Article by Nick Johnson
For more history and information on samurai swords please visit http://www.japanese-samurai-swords.net