Katana, or samurái sword, is a Japanese sword by excellence and it is known as a slightly curved single-edged saber. Currently, it is considered the most perfect and effective hand weapon with which the Japanese fought for long periods of time in Japan.

Nowadays it is known as a primordial element for interior design. Before explaining if these swords can be used for decoration, the story that is behind these majestuous pieces will be explained.

fig. 1 Samurái with a katana

Firstly, the katanas were the most precious belongings of the Japanese warriors due to its seal of distinction. In 1588, its use was so common among samuráis that it was declared as an exclusive privilege for these warrior social classes. The katanas had a symbolic function, which was the ritual of “Hara-Kiri”. This consisted of nailing down the sword from left side to right side and then returning to the centre. It was a ritual by which all samuráis had to kill themselves if they lost a battle.

Due to the ritual, katanas are since then a sacred weapon that represents the moral values of samuráis. As it is now considered a decorative object, as mentioned previously, its process of creation is going to be explained. This mainly consists of four main parts:

  1. Molten: the steel from katanas comes from iron sand. In order to obtain this unique and characteristic steel that causes an attraction to katanas, oxygen is extracted and carbon is introduced. To achieve this, steel is burned at a low temperature in ovens known as “Tatara”.
  2. Folds: It is handmade and requires a specific precision process. The steel must be burned and hammered. Once this is done, water is cooled up for the process of making it thinner and longer. The metal lengthens double its size and two different layers are formed. This process is repeated at least 12 times.
  3. Differential tempering: During this process, the edge becomes hard and at the same time it maintains the flexibility of its loin. When the weapon is tempered, a thin layer mass made up of sand, clay and ash establishes throughout the whole loin. Through this, a harder tenacity is obtained for the edge, yet softer for the loin.
  4. Polished: Finally, this process consists of sharpening the sword (nowadays how the client wants to) in order to give it the definitive form.

            fig.2 Sword cap

As it was clearly observed, this process is the same for any kind of katanas. However, decorative katanas differentiate diametrically from martial arts katanas. Therefore, this is the only difference that exists between katanas, as the decorative ones remain on the wished place of the house and they are simply kept there.

Katanas are a combination of three fundamental elements: artistic beauty, solidity, and precision.