Almost everyone loves a katana. It’s elegant, steep in history, legendary, and symbolizes a nation’s unparalleled commitment to spiritual art, harmony, and balance. Unsurprisingly, many folks want to know where to buy a katana.
Although you can buy a katana almost anywhere, you might want to be careful not to fall victim to schemers and fraudsters. Your best chances are to buy authentic katana or a Japanese sword replica from trustworthy sources.
Please continue reading to learn where you can buy Japan’s most legendary sword – the katana.
The Authentic Katana
Of the many types of Japanese swords, few can be as mesmerizing as a katana. Unfortunately, some “enterprising” entities exploit this attribute to earn a quick cash. So, people must be cautious when buying katana to avoid getting conned.
An authentic Japanese swordsmith-forged katana can fetch a whopping $12,000 to $25,000, or more.
Katana-kaji (duly-certified Japanese katana smiths) need at least three months to produce a single sword, with some taking up to a year to create a masterpiece worthy of recognition as an “especially important work” (Tokubetsu Juyo Token) by the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai (Society for Preservation of Japanese Art Swords).
Authentic handcrafted katanas undergo three unique processes, differentiating them from replica swords – folding, laminating, and clay tempering. These techniques give authentic katanas their unparalleled characteristics.
Buying an Authentic Katana in Japan: Legal Considerations
Everyone wants a souvenir when they visit a place. And travelers to Japan often have a katana in their shopping list. Although you can buy katana almost anywhere in the Land of the Rising Sun, it’s not as straightforward as other “exportable” items. So, what legal considerations should you familiarize yourself with before buying katana?
The Japanese government has strict laws regarding owning and carrying “deadly weapons.” And since the katana is a legendary tool of destruction, you cannot buy katana classified as such.
Hence, the katana must have the correct paperwork certifying it’s an “art sword” and not a “weapon.” Buying a katana in Japan requires you to complete the registration documents, especially the “transfer of ownership registration” before you can bring home the katana.
Some katanas have NBTHK certification, and they are “national treasures.” In general, these swords stay in Japan. However, some duly-licensed shops offer NBTHK-certified katanas, and you can buy them with proper documentation.
You can buy katana from almost any shop in Japan, provided it has an Education Board Torokusho license. You will also need to apply for an export permit at the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Otherwise, you cannot bring the katana outside Japan.
Replicas and Iaito Swords
The easiest way to bring a katana outside Japan is to buy replicas or Iaito swords. Iaito swords are training tools with an unsharpened edge and feature aluminum or aluminum-zinc alloy. The documentation requirements are less stringent than authentic katanas.
Where to Buy an Authentic Japanese Sword?
Local and foreign katana enthusiasts buy only real or authentic katana because they understand the legal ramifications of carrying a counterfeit product. So, where to buy a katana – an authentic one? You could try the following.
Katana Sword is the Japanese sword leader. You can easily get an authentic japanese sword from the catalog. You can find differrent type of swords in our catalog : Wakizashi, Katana, Tanto and more ! With or without a NBTHK certificate.
Ginza Seikodo is one of Japan’s oldest samurai sword shops established in 1905. They have an excellent collection of authentic katana and other Japanese swords, including NBTHK-graded blades.
For instance, you can buy an unsigned Kanemitsu katana with the highest NBTHK rating of Tokubetsu Juyo Token. Ginza Seikodo has a shop in Tokyo and a robust online presence, where enthusiasts can buy a katana.
Fans of antique katanas and feudal Japan-era bladed weapons will love Aoi-Art. Like many Japanese sword shops, Aoi-Art has an online presence. However, its website is not as extensive as western platforms, and for good reason. Aoi-Art minimizes displaying its offerings on the internet to encourage people to visit them in Tokyo.
Some of Aoi-Art’s most valuable collections date back to the 17th and 19th century, allowing prospective buyers to bring home a piece of history. Aoi-Art is a sword collector’s haven.
This popular Japanese sword shop was established in 1998 by Fred Weissberg. He might not be Japanese, but Weissberg is an NBTHK member. This distinction makes Nihonto one of the best places to buy a katana or any Japanese sword. After all, an NBTHK member would not want a fake katana in the offering.
For example, Nihonto has a Heian-era (794-1185 AD) tachi forged by Ohara Sanemori, a 17th-century Shodai Echizen Masanori katana, and a 17th-century Omi no Kami Tsuguhiro katana.
Established in 1970, Ginza Choshuya specializes in Japanese swords, including katana, wakizashi, and tachi. It has artifacts you can buy with your katana. You can visit them online or at their Tokyo shop. We recommend the latter to appreciate their offerings better.
Although Tozando only opened its doors about two decades after Ginza Choshuya, it remains a favorite among local and foreign katana enthusiasts. This 1989-established Japanese sword store features many of the finest creations of the land’s renowned katana-kaji. You can buy a katana online or visit Tozando at their Kyoto shop.
Head to historic Kanazawa in Japan’s Ishikawa Prefecture and look for this shop offering authentic Japanese swords. Higashiyama Nihon-tosho-gu offers antique and modern blades, although katana enthusiasts love the shop’s educational approach. This organization provides buyers sufficient information about each katana’s craftsmanship and history.
Sword enthusiasts love Yoshichiro Yamashiro for its hand-forged katanas. This Kyoto shop features katana-kaji and togishi employing traditional forging and polishing methods to produce the finest authentic Japanese swords money can buy.
Samurai Store International
An advantage of this Tokyo-based samurai sword shop is its English-speaking staff, making them friendlier to foreigners looking to bring home an authentic katana. The other good news is you can buy katana, samurai armor, and other feudal Japan-related products under one roof.
Tourist-friendly Kyoto Samurai is a favorite shop for international Japanese sword collectors and enthusiasts. Like Samurai Store International, this organization offers an extensive collection of samurai-related products, including armor.
Named after one of Japan’s legendary swordsmiths, Tokyo-based Sengo Muramasa is a haven for katana enthusiasts who want exceptional balance and sharpness in their blades. It’s an upscale shop with a classic vibe.
Miyairi Bizen Hamono
If you’re a fan of Bizen-style katanas, Miyari Bizen Hamono is your go-to shop. Located in Osafune in the Okayama Prefecture, Miyairi offers katanas with stunning patterns. The shop’s distinct forging techniques give their swords a characteristic you won’t see anywhere else.
A favorite of high-end collectors, Tsukasa Murakami in Tokyo is perfect for sword enthusiasts who want a customized katana. Although you can expect the prices to be steeper than most, every creation is a masterpiece. The extraordinary attention to detail and care is impressive.
Seki City Swordsmith Museum
Tourists think this establishment in the Gifu Prefecture is only good for its historical and cultural exhibitions. They don’t know that Seki City Swordsmith Museum also sells katanas.
If you don’t see anything you like at the Seki City Swordsmith Museum, you can head over to Imai Hamono. This shop’s katanas are high quality, featuring modern and traditional designs.
How Much does an Authentic Katana Cost?
Like other things, katanas vary in price. The katana’s craftsmanship quality, materials, and age are significant price metrics. Add to this the katana-kaji's reputation, and you can get an authentic katana for as low as $2,700 or as pricey as $90,000 (or higher).
- Entry-level newly-created katanas – Newly-certified katana-kaji can sell their creations for at least $2,700.
- Katanas by renowned katana-kaji – Well-known Japanese swordsmiths can price their katanas between $9,000 and $27,000, although it’s not uncommon for some katana-kaji to demand a higher price.
- Antique katanas with exceptional quality – These swords are the creations of celebrated Japanese master swordsmiths and start at $90,000.
Should You Buy a Katana Replica or Imitation Katana?
Authentic Japanese katana is expensive. Moreover, the legal documentary requirements for bringing it out of Japan are enough for most people to look for another route. A katana replica or imitation katana should be an excellent choice.
You don’t even need to visit Japan to own a katana replica. You can ask Google for the best katana shops in your country or outside Japan, check the sword’s information and technical details, and buy.
Many reputable online katana stores offer customization. You can pick the steel to go into your blade, including aesthetic elements. The best part is imitation katanas only cost a fraction of an authentic version.
And if you’re concerned about the quality of these swords, you can always try ordering from a trustworthy Japanese katana shop with an internet presence. Note this route might be more expensive than dealing with non-Japanese platforms.
You have plenty of options where to buy a katana, and your choice depends on your budget and inconvenience tolerance. While buying an authentic katana in Japan is the way to go, legal considerations can be a hassle.
So, why not stay at home and browse our katana offerings? You’ll never worry about registration documents, export requirements, and other legal stuff. Pick a katana you like, customize it, buy it, and wait for the shop to deliver it right in your home.