Why Katana Are So Polished And Shiny

[GIF via 和食乃サト]

How do you make a katana disappear? It’s very simple. You angle the blade down so it reflects the ground below, making the katana blend right in and appear to vanish. This isn’t some trick, but rather, a combat technique that can mean life or death.

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When the clip below was originally aired on Japanese TV, master swordsman Isao Machii explained that the blade would be turned to reflect the ground so that one’s foe could not estimate blade length.

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Samurai aimed to cut down their enemies in a single slice (they weren’t clashing and clanking blades like swashbuckling pirates), so katana length could tip off safe and unsafe distances.

The highly-polished nature of Japanese swords isn’t for looks only, but part of a samurai’s engagement know-how.


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Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.

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DISCUSSION

I still find it interesting how much attention gets paid to the Katana, and swords in general, when they’re fundamentally just sidearms. Wars were won and lost on the backs of the Tanegashima, Yumi and Yari but most people don’t even know what they are.