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The Truth About the Weight of a Katana Sword

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Japanese katanas are more graceful and slender than swords from other nations. They seem light and weightless due to their look, but actually katana is not a light sword. The weight of a katana plays an important role in combat, experienced swordsmen will spend years to find the best weight to match their skills, and they will require the swordsmiths to precisely built their personalized katana sword.  So, what is the actual weight of a genuine Japanese katana? Let’s examine the weight of Japanese Katana swords in more detail and the variances in how each one feels in hand.

The Weight of Old Japanese Katana Swords

The long, thin blade of the Japanese Katana minikatana is created by continuously hammering and bending tamahagane, an extremely pure metal. The Uchinata and Wakizashi, two Japanese swords, were worn by soldiers during the Edo era. Since no vehicles were available back then, it was common to go several dozen miles on foot. What kind of weight did they carry? A typical Japanese sword weighs about 3.2 pounds.

The core material for the Japanese sword, tamahagane, is created by melting down this material using the ancient Japanese Tatara process. The original substance is a superior variation of iron sand. The steel is stretched and laminated by the smith’s repeated strokes, resulting in a denser blade.

Consequently, a Japanese sword’s inside is made up of several very thin layers of steel rather than one solid piece. However, despite this, the sword is incredibly hefty.

In addition to the sword, carrying a Japanese sword requires the hilt, scabbard, and other components. The heaviest swords weighed around 5 pounds, with the average weight of a sword consisting simply of the hilt and the tsuba affixed to the blade being roughly 3.2 pounds. Given that samurais traveled on foot, carrying a Japanese sword around the waist all the time would have required a lot of muscle.

The Core Changes to The Weight of Katana Swords

Approximately 700 years, from the middle of the Heian era in 901 to 1595, saw the production of the Japanese sword known as the koto (old sword). Koto is forged using a different process than shin-to (new swords). However, the specifics of the process remain unknown.

Samurais primarily utilized the ancient katana in horseback combat from the middle of the Heian era to the Muromachi period (1336–1573). Therefore, it had to be practical and simple to use while wearing armor. Japanese katanas needed to be powerful to cut and pierce through very protective armor. These swords needed to be sturdy and manageable, but they also needed to be powerful.

An ordinary antique sword is around two shaku three sun (about 27.5″) long and 5.1 oz. to 6.2 oz. in weight. However, Japanese long swords gained popularity during the Nanbokucho era (1644–1644), and many “otachi” (large swords) with blades longer than three shaku (about 35.4″) were produced. Consequently, these swords became heavier. Aichi Prefecture’s Atsuta Shrine, for instance, has a collection of “Taro-Tachi” (swords with handles) that is over seven shaku three sun (87″) long and 9lbs heavy.

In addition, the conflict destroyed a lot of Japanese katanas. The original lengthy, deeply curved, and elegant shape of old katanas had progressively been superseded by a more practical style around the end of the Muromachi era (1333-1573). Therefore, only 30% to 40% of katanas now in use are considered ancient.

The Weight of Modern Japanese Katana Swords

Between the conclusion of the Azuchi-Momoyama era and the middle of the Edo period in 1763, Japanese swords were referred to be “shint.” The Japanese katana evolved from a weapon to a symbol of samurai prestige after warfare stopped during the Edo era.

The Japanese katana, which everyone could possess, regardless of position, until that point, was a requirement for defense. However, the sword hunting law permitted only samurai to possess a katana. Large towns like Edo and Osaka saw a rise in the number of katana makers throughout the Edo era (1603–1867) due to a steady supply of materials of the highest quality.

Sword makers created new katanas with an average weight of roughly 2lbs during these times, and several of them still exist today. Even for individuals who wore a sword belt, the shogunate standardized the length of a Japanese sword in the Edo era at two shaku, three sun, and 5 min (about 28″).

As there were no big wars during the Shint era, katanas were heavier than they were during the suekt period, also known as the Warring States period. The flexibility of the previous katanas was thought to have been somewhat diminished in the new ones.

As a result of the consistent carbon content throughout the blade and the widespread dispersion of homogenous domestic iron, they were also more prone to breaking. The widespread consensus was that the new katanas weighed more than the shorter, more manageable katanas of the Late Antique Warring States period due to the necessity to compensate for strength.

Katana Sword Weight Differences for Bearers

People may still use the Japanese katana in contemporary iaido and other iaido disciplines. For contemporary practice, the Japanese katana must be simple to utilize in handling circumstances like iaido and cutting trials. The katana must have the strength to cut an item, as shown in cutting trials, and the right weight, in addition to being easy to wield swiftly. Additionally, it’s critical that the user and Japanese katana feel united.

The handling of the Japanese katana depends on its overall balance. For instance, it is crucial to alter the design of the handle or tsuba if the center of gravity of the point increases excessively and the katana seems heavier than it is. Moreover, there is no universally simple Japanese katana, and it often relies on one’s sensitivity.

Therefore, the weight of a katana sword often feels different for the bearers. This amazing sword went through some massive changes over the years. So, whether you want something ancient or modern, the average weight of a katana sword will depend on your handling approach. Moreover, heavier swords cut better, but lighter swords offer better grip. If you want a new katana for your collection, consider the guide above and make the right choice.