1 Jul 2014

How to Know If Your Samurai Sword Is Authentic

The samurai sword has been a symbol of courage, bravery and fighting skill for centuries and even though the days of the samurai have passed, interest in the swords remains strong. Collectors near and far would consider an authentic samurai sword to be an exciting addition to their personal collection. However, determining the authenticity of a sword is another story. Keep reading for some tips on how to figure it out.

Samurai Sword

The Steel

Since the steel is what makes a samurai sword what it is, it’s important to make sure the blade is actually made of steel. Many replica samurai swords are made from aluminum, and while they may look nice, they aren’t the real thing. A real samurai sword is made by a Japanese swordsmith who took a lot of time to forge the raw steel. One simple way to check if it is at least real steel is to hold a magnet against it and hope that it sticks.

The Grain

One sign to look for that will let you know the sword was hand forged is a grain or “hada” on the steel. By holding a magnifying glass up to the blade, you should be able to see little dots that are clear without any fuzziness. Of course, a handmade sword still doesn’t guarantee it is a true samurai sword, but you’re on the right track. Many machine made swords will have a serial number near the base of the blade. If you find such a serial number during your inspection, it is not an authentic samurai sword.

The Shape

A real samurai sword will have a shape and design that is historically accurate and balanced to perfection. Present day swords come in a variety of different shapes and are polished to a mirror shine, but they certainly wouldn’t stand the test of time. It’s important to keep in mind that for a samurai, their sword was likely their sole means of self-defense and they literally depended on it for their lives.

Beware the Fakes

Naturally, with artifacts that are as old as a true samurai sword would be, there are many fakes out there. No matter how convincing the story, if it doesn’t pass the tests mentioned above then turn it down. And even if it does, take the matter a little further and find someone with experience in collecting Japanese swords. It may take a little longer, but you’ll be happy you did.

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