Katanas are renowned for their sharpness and strength and have been used by the samurai of Japan for centuries. Today, they are still revered as symbols of power and skill. Here are 10 amazing facts about katanas that you may not know.
- A katana is made up of several different types of metal
The traditional Japanese katana is actually made up of several different types of metal. The blade itself is usually made of a type of high-carbon steel called tamahagane, which is incredibly tough and resistant to breaking. The edge of the blade is then usually hardened through a process called quenching, which makes it even stronger.
- Katanas were originally designed for cutting down horses
Katanas were originally designed for one purpose – to cut down enemy horses and riders in battle. The long, curved blade was perfectly suited for slicing through the thick hide and muscles of a horse, and the sharpness of the blade meant that it could easily decapitate a rider.
- A katana can be incredibly sharp
The sharpness of a katana is legendary, and for good reason. A properly made and cared-for katana can be incredibly sharp, with some blades being able to cut through metal and even rock. The edge of a katana is usually sharpened to a very fine angle, around 10-15 degrees, which makes it much sharper than a kitchen knife.
- Katanas are traditionally made by hand
One of the things that make a katana so special is the fact that it is traditionally made by hand. Each katana is individually crafted by a swordsmith, using techniques that have been passed down for generations. It can take months or even years to make a single katana, which is why they are so prized.
- There are different types of katanas
Not all katanas are the same. There are actually several different types of katanas, each designed for a specific purpose. For example, the katana used by the samurai was typically longer and heavier than the katana used by the common soldier. There are also different types of katanas for different styles of swordsmanship.
- Katanas were once banned in Japan
During the Meiji period, the Japanese government banned the carrying of katanas in public. This was in part due to the fact that the samurai class had been abolished, and also because the government wanted to modernize Japan. The ban was eventually lifted, but it was not until the 1950s that katanas became commonly seen in public again.
- Katanas are still made today
Despite the fact that katanas are centuries old, they are still being made today. There are a handful of traditional swordsmiths in Japan who still make katanas using the same methods that were used centuries ago. These swords are highly prized by collectors and can fetch very high prices.
- Katanas are not just for fighting
Katanas are often thought of as weapons, but they were actually used for much more than just fighting. Samurai would often use their katana for tasks such as chopping wood or cleaning fish. The sharpness of the blade also made it useful for opening letters and packages.
- There are many famous katanas
Throughout history, there have been many famous katanas. One of the most famous is the Honjo Masamune, which was made by the legendary swordsmith Goro Nyudo Masamune in the 13th century. This sword is so revered that it is now on display in the Tokyo National Museum.
- Katanas are still used in martial arts
Katanas are not just weapons of the past – they are still used in martial arts today. Kendo, which is a modern form of swordsmanship, makes use of katanas, as well as other traditional Japanese weapons such as the naginata and the juke.