information for a complete "newbie" to japanese swords / Katana?

Oliver Mendl

Active Member

is there anyone willing to pass along some general information, where and what to look for, what not to buy under any circumstances?

i will try to explain my situation:

i really like japanese swords, the look, the feel, the myth. and i would love to own one, solely for displaying at home, to look at and to take into my hands from time to time. no cutting, no "abuse", no field testing, not even to take apart.

i know that i want a traditional katana. no stainless steel, no paracord wrap, no cf, no "etching" to get a certain look.

i think that there are two possibilities, oder one from a maker that produces them at present, or get an antique one. the last might be very difficult, as far as i know, importing from japan is out of question because they are treated as national treasures. a reputable dealer that has an antique in very good shape, complete, polished condition will charge a very high price, maybe higher then i'm willing to go. and it's seldom that you find a complete sword.

often there's is talk about "mass produced" military swords, again often it's just blades with no mounting. but the blades are of a good to ok'ish quality, and having a mounting made, shouldn't be a problem.

so, who can lead me into a direction?

one thing to add, i respect everyone that get's really into something, but in this case i truely only want a sword, i don't want to study all of the japanese terms, i found information already online, but it's above what i understand - so please keep it comprehensible for someone that is a complete newbie. thank you very much!

Your budget is really the key to everything when it comes to the topic of Japanese swords. If you want the piece for display purposes only and have no desire to study the "Japanese Blade", your best bet is to find a quality import piece at a reasonable price. There are several companies who have pieces made in China which are of presentation quality.

If you want a nicer end custom production piece to your specifications, check out "Bugei". They have some really nice looking blades that I have been told perform very well and will be in pristine condition without paying the price of a true custom piece. I'm sure there are some other companies out there that make nice pieces as well at possibly less expensive prices, but Bugei is the first name that comes to mind.

thanks for your answers. the budget is about 20k, if the sword is awesome and i like it, 25k aren't a deal breaker, 30k might be possible under certain circumstances.

greetings and thank you,
hi again,

i took a look on the bugei website, but somehow thats not what i had in mind. they use a swedish powder-metallurgical steel, might be ok for display and cutting but that's not really traditional in my eyes.

I have some nice customs in the 5K to 10K area that I am working on, and a set that will run about 12K. These have a way to go before the togi is done, but will be available by the end of the year.
There is an old style ( 7th-8th century) san-mai wakizashi available now for $2500. All the koshirae is mokume.

I am doing the saya work on a very unique fusion of styles piece that will be available after it is revealed at Ashokan this fall. Price on it is not yet determined, but 8K to 10K is approximate. If you really want a beautiful and unique one of a kind sword to hold and admire, this is the one.
Email me for info.