Learn More About Traditional Japanese Swords
Are your swords full tang/functional?Yes, every sword on our website is full tang and functional. The full width of the blade extends into the handle and is secured with two bamboo mekugi pegs. Even our most affordable swords (1060 high carbon steel) when sharpened are very capable, and can cut through traditional tatami mats easily. 1060 steel is a great compromise between hardness and durability and is the best option for light to medium cutting and iaido forms.
For heavier cutting such as thick bamboo and bone, we suggest to select one of our 1095 steel blades. It’s high hardness and excellent edge retention make it the best option for heavy duty cutting. We offer mono-tempered 1095 blades (same hardness throughout), or clay tempered blades (differentially hardened) to give the blade the dual benefit of a very hard/sharp cutting edge, and a softer, flexible spine for added shock absorption.
How are your swords constructed?Our swords are constructed with traditional Japanese methods and can be fully disassembled for maintenance. The carved handle and scabbard are made of hardwood from a tree species local to Longquan called DU tree, it’s hard and durable and not prone to issues like splitting. The handles are wrapped with genuine rayskin, and the handle and tang are drilled with two holes (mekugi-ana) which will be used to secure the blade into the handle with tapered bamboo mekugi pegs.
The handle is wrapped tightly with silk or genuine leather ito by an expert of the craft. The sword can be disassembled by hammering out the two mekugi pegs and pulling the handle and fittings from the blade. Every sword is fitted very tightly and securely with the highest safety standards. When the sword is shaken, you will not hear any rattling of fittings. It can even take considerable strength to disassemble the sword because of how secure the fitting is.
Are there any issues shipping to my country?We can ship to United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia with no customs issues. Hand forged swords are perfectly fine to possess in these countries. We’ve shipped to each hundreds of times before.
We can also ship to the following countries: The Netherlands, Hong Kong, China, Macau, Mongolia, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Austria, Belgium, Finland, South Africa, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Philippines, Laos, Brazil, Cuba, Panama, Argentina, Greenland Island, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Pakistan, Niger, Nigeria, Qatar, Melta, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda, Bela Rus, Cayman Islands, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Croatia, and Taiwan.
For other countries, we can consider using a package forwarding service. Please contact us for more information.
How are engravings done?Custom Engravings are laser engraved on the blade near the handle.
English engravings are done in a very nice cursive font, except if it’s in all caps we'll use serif. We’ll hand pick a font that looks best for your engraving.
Japanese/Chinese engravings are done in a beautiful stylized calligraphic Kanji. When picking a Kanji engraving option feel free to write it in English in the engraving box, and we’ll translate it to Kanji for you. The smith's name on blade option is done in Kanji by default
How long does shipping take?Shipping usually takes around 7-10 days to most countries including United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. In some cases bad weather and also the pre-Christmas rush can delay shipping around 1-2 weeks. We’ll provide a tracking number when your sword ships that you’ll be able to track with both EMS and your national post office.
How long will it take to make my sword?Most swords are finished within 3-4 weeks. We’ll send pictures of your sword by email for confirmation (Please whitelist firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure you get our email). We have semi-finished blades ready for the most common blade designs that can be polished and assembled as needed. Tanto and wakizashi swords usually take around a week longer to make since they are not as commonly ordered. Very customized swords such as blades with custom length and custom painted scabbards will take closer to 4-5 weeks.
How are the packages shipped?Our swords are shipped very securely in form-fitted styrofoam that matches the shape of the sword so it won’t have any room to rattle around, even when abused by post office workers. The foam encasing is wrapped tightly with plenty of packing tape which keeps it waterproof. The package can be opened by cutting down the middle of the thin side.
How much does shipping cost?We offer 100% free world-wide shipping!
Can I customize this sword?Yes, you can customize every sword on our website. Even if you’re not happy with the existing options available to you, you can request just about any change you could think of. We can change most fittings, wrappings, and blade coloring (black, red, or blue) for free, these kinds of requests can be made in the order comments section during checkout. If what you need done is more complex and might cost extra, please contact us with your request. If you make a request in the comments section when ordering your sword and it happens to cost extra we’ll kindly follow-up and explain the cost difference and send an invoice for the cost if you’re happy with it.
Where are your swords made?Our swords are made in Longquan, a small town in China with a swordmaking history that goes back 2,600 years since the Spring & Autumn period. The legacy of the Longquan sword began when the legendary swordsmith Ou Yezi 歐冶子 forged a sword named Longyuan at the foot of Qingxi Mountain, an area with abundant iron ore, cold springs for quenching, and fine stones for polishing blades. The methods of traditional forging and hand crafting were passed down and improved from generation to generation, and still today Longquan is famous locally and abroad for the quality of their swords. We work directly with the most trusted swordsmiths and craftsmen in Longquan to bring you the highest quality, fully functional swords at an affordable price. Each sword comes with a certificate of authenticity from the smith.
Why not Japan?
Sharpened steel swords made in Japan, called Shinken, are considered a national treasure and there are strict laws governing sword production. Each sword must be made in the old traditional process and using the traditional blade material (tamahagane) which takes months including smelting, forging, and polishing. Also each smith is only permitted to make a small number of swords each year. Because of these restrictions, real swords made in Japan are a rare and valuable commodity. Most Shinken cost over $10,000. Swords in Longquan are also considered a national intangible cultural heritage, but smiths are not bound by the same restrictions, so they are free to combine modern and traditional methods and materials to create some of the highest quality, fully functional swords in the world at affordable prices.
How is the steel made?Each sword begins with a bar of high quality carbon steel. If the sword should be folded, the master smith heats the steel in a coal furnace until it is red hot and then hammers the steel flat, chisels a cut into the center, and folds the steel on top of itself around 12-13 times (4,096-8,192 layers). Any more is unnecessary and would cause too much carbon to be lost in the process. The fold cuts are alternated cross-wise and length-wise to achieve a unique grain pattern (hada) on the blade.
The blade is repeatedly heated-treated in the process of shaping to keep the steel malleable while the smith hammers the steel into the rough desired shape of the blade. It’s crucial at this stage to minimize the number of times the blade is heated up; the smith must move at a very fast pace to prevent any more carbon on the surface from dissipating. Once the blade is shaped, the smith then begins the finishing process. First he does a rough filing, and then the blade is grinded with a whetstone to achieve the desired blade geometry.
This is where the forging process will differ depending on the type of sword. If the blade is mono-tempered (through hardened) like all of our 1060 steel swords, the blade will be re-heated (tempered) and then quenched in oil. This cools the blade quickly, giving it the desired hardness and durability needed to make a functional sword. Heating and quenching the blade at the perfect temperature is something of instinct that can only be mastered through years of experience by a skilled swordsmith.
If the sword is clay tempered, the smith will apply a special clay mixture to the blade before tempering and quenching (performed with water in this case). The adhesive clay is made out of a mixture of charcoal, pulverized wet stone, and other ingredients; the exact proportions and ingredients are the smith’s own personal secret. After the mixture is carefully prepared, the smith applies it to the roughly ground sword with equal delicacy. The clay is painted on to the blade in a thin layer. Once the light layer of clay is applied to the cutting edge, the smith will use a thicker clay mixture for the spine of the blade. This coating is to ensure the blade does not heat up too much and over-harden. After both layers are applied, the smith will go to work with a small spatula, arranging the clay in a specific pattern on the blade to create the beautiful, unique temper line.
After shaping, finishing, and tempering, it is the job of the polisher to reveal the true beauty and soul of the sword. Our swords are polished with a series of 13 different water stones by an expert polisher, starting with coarse stones that finalize the shaping of the geometry of the blade, creating crisp and proper surfaces, and ending with fine stones that bring the sword to a mirror polish, revealing the beautiful grain pattern (hada) and temper line (hamon) that laid dormant within the steel, bringing the sword to life.
How are your swords sharpened?The blade attains it’s sharp edge during the polishing process, with the final stages of fine stone polishing. Our swords are made with a traditional niku edge by default, meaning the cutting edge side of the blade is convex, slightly rounded for maximum durability. Traditionally, Japanese swords are made with niku so the samurai’s blade could retain it’s cutting edge even after cutting through his enemy’s bones and clashing against iron armor. Additionally, the added thickness meant the edge could be resharpened several times which was important considering the sword’s value. While we always recommend niku sharpness which is still very sharp and functional, we also offer a razor sharp option, which offers a sharper edge but sacrifices some durability, only suggested for light cutting such as tatami mats.
Does folded steel improve performance?In feudal Japan, swordsmiths used a material called tamahagane which consisted of iron sands and charcoal smelted in a clay tatara furnace. This blade material was very impure, with gaps in the steel, less desirable elements, and an uneven distribution of carbon throughout. The steel was folded around a dozen times to even out the carbon content and remove impurities, creating a strong blade without any weak points in the steel.
Though folding was once a vital process in making a quality sword, modern steel is already pure and possesses even carbon throughout, which eliminates the need for folding. Now it is only done for tradition’s sake, and to create the beautiful grain pattern (hada) on the blade which samurai swords are famous for. We offer folded 1060 and 1095 steel as an option for those who value the traditional forging process and unique beauty of traditional Japanese swords.
Do you have more custom options?Yes, please contact us for our full fittings catalog which features more options not listed on our website.
Can you recreate a sword from a show or game?Yes we've recreated many customer's favorite swords, please send details and pictures to email@example.com and we’ll let you know about the possibilities and quote.
Submit new questionSuggestion: