6 Ways to Spot an Authentic Japanese Sword

man holding black and gray katana

Finding Real Swords for Sale


Many people are swayed by the allure of buying an authentic Japanese sword. Having something steeped in Japanese history that was made through the original forging techniques developed centuries ago is a truly revelatory experience. At Swords of Northshire, we want everyone who wants to own a real Japanese piece to be able to find authentic, high-quality swords. If you’ve begun a journey to find real Japanese swords for sale, read on here for six ways you can tell a real sword from a mock piece.


  1. Type of Steel


Type of Steel


Authentic Japanese katanas and wakizashi are always made of carbon steel. There are plenty of “real” swords for sale that are made of stainless steel, aluminum, tin, or iron. These are for decoration purposes only and cannot be used to actually strike anything. Many times, striking an object with a sword that’s not made of carbon steel results in the blade shattering.


Damascus Steel


In Damascus steel swords, the metal has been folded many times to create thousands of layers in the blade. The layers created through hammering the steel down and folding it on top of itself remove impurities in the steel and make for stronger, more durable swords. Since today’s steel is relatively pure compared to the steel of the past, folding is done to honor the traditional swordmaking of the past and to develop the flowing grain pattern on the blade.


1060 Steel


Another feature that signifies a real sword for sale is the use of 1060 steel or 1095 high carbon steel. These weapons are made with steel that has a good carbon content for flexibility and strength. The most high-quality swords are generally made with 1095 steel, as it is currently the industry standard.


Industrial Tool Steel 


Also known as T10 or L6 Bainite, industrial tool steel is an affordable metallic alloy that is used by reputable sword makers. It creates incredibly sharp, amazingly durable swords that can act as quality substitutes for swords made with the more traditional clay tempering process or Tamahagane steel.


Any sword description that mentions stainless steel does NOT describe an authentic piece. Even on display, you can tell the difference between a stainless steel blade and high-quality swords.


  1. Has a Full Tang



A full tang blade means that the full width of the blade runs into the handle. It’s not welded anywhere — instead, it runs the full length of the handle and is held in place with bamboo mekugi. Always look for the words “full tang” when buying a real sword for sale. Half tang or welded swords are not securely held in place, and the blade could even fly out of the handle during training.


  1. The Right Weight


While real swords for sale will vary in length and size, most Japanese katanas weigh in at three pounds or less. Any sword that’s substantially heavier is not made with the right materials or isn’t thin enough to be considered an authentic katana. Odachi swords are a bit longer than katanas and will weigh more, while wakizashi swords are a little shorter and lighter.


A reputable seller will list the measurements of their weapons on each product page. The length of the blade, when compared to the weight, should be a good indicator of whether this is an authentic Japanese weapon. At Swords of Northshire, we even include additional information in our descriptions like:


  • Width Near Handle

  • Thickness Near Handle

  • Point of Balance

  • Weight (Without Saya)

  • Weight (With Saya)

  • Hardness (HRC)


  1. The Hamon Line



As you explore real swords for sale, consider looking for the hamon line. This usually wavy line is created by the clay temper process, where the smith applies different thicknesses of clay to the spine and cutting edge before tempering and quenching. The rapid heating and cooling process is designed to make the edge of the blade much harder than the spine, allowing for the dual benefit of a sharp heavy cutting edge and durable spine for shock absorption.


  1. Tight Handle Binding



Once you’ve confirmed the quality of the metal, the tang length, and the hamon line, it’s time to focus on the handle wrapping. You want the wrapping (ito) to be done up very tightly, so there’s no risk of it coming loose. The tightness of the wrapping also indicates whether the material is high quality as well as the expertise of the craftsman. If you already have a high-quality sword and you want to replace the handle/wrappings, many vendors who have real swords for sale also sell replacement ito and handles.


  1. Sharpening Options


Katanas are among the sharpest swords in the world, but at Swords of Northshire, we also guarantee that our nodachi, ninjato, and tanto are given the same sharpening treatment. You want swords that are sharpened by master craftsmen using traditional Japanese polishing techniques and premium water stones.


Shopping with Us

Now that you know how to identify a real Japanese sword for sale, you can get started on your search for an authentic, high-quality weapon. Find the best battle-ready katanas and so much more when you explore Swords of Northshire today!

At Swords of Northshire, we pride ourselves in our quality work. If for any reason you aren't happy with your purchase, we will make it right! We guarantee you'll love your sword or your money back