First time buying a traditional japanese sword

by Jeffrey Capellan
(New York)

QUESTION: Hello, I have always dreamed of purchasing and owning a real sword ever since I was real young. To me they are great works of art and wished I could own one for myself. After watching my friend waste his money on a cheap knock off samurai Katana set from eBay, I have always been scared to purchase a sword for myself. Now that i have some money saved and have the spare funds to purchase a sword I am interested in purchasing a Japanese katana.

My question is what is the best traditional looking and/or made japanese katana on the market that is durable and sharp for someone on a budget? After looking at this web site and reading various things in forums I am still scared to purchase something I would regret later on. I am committed to own at least 1 sword and that is why I need to make a critical decision.

Out of all the recommended swords on this web site or anywhere else which sword would you guys recommend that is more traditionally made or looks more authentic and yet be durable and sharp enough for practical use. My current budget is around $500 and considering it might be my only purchase I was hoping you guys would guide me towards something good. I am aware the real deal traditional swords run about 5 thousand dollars but which swords compare to some of those on a budget?

Thank you for any information provided I will be extremely grateful for any information provided. Also I would like to thank Mr. Paul Southren for this wonderful site it has helped me tremendously.

ANSWER: Hi Jeffrey,

There are really only 2 traditionally made - relatively inexpensive swords that I can recommend. The first, and my personal favorite - is the Cheness Kaze. A strong blade, natural hamon (unheard of at this price point) and a great cutter. The brown ito version looks a little nicer IMHO.

The second sword would be one of the Hanwei Practical Plus swords - especially the Peformace Series (i.e. XL and Elite). These swords handle extremely well and are ridiculously sharp - almost to the point of being brittle on the edge - but this is not strange for a Katana without Hira Niku (which the Kaze has: it is basically a thicker, 'appleseed' shaped edge).

Either of these two swords would be my own choices. If you go above the US$500 mark - say, to around $800+, many more options start to appear - with much nicer blades and fittings. But below that - these two are definitely the best bang for the buck.

Hope this helps.

- Paul

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