That’s a question we do get on a very regular base. “They both look the same so where is the difference?”. And sometimes it’s hard to tell if you only get to see some pictures. Here at our shop we try to provide you as many detailed pictures as possible and believe me it takes some time to set up the whole thing and edit them.
There are some things you can look at and see very clearly where is the difference. The overall look may be the same but in most of the cases you will see why a €800 sword isn’t the same as a €200 katana.
Let us start with some basic things you can look at :
Hamonline of a katana
The Hamonline often referred to as the ‘tempered’ edge of the sword. The hamon is the area of the sword where it has been quenched to provide a high carbon steel area which will hold a sharpened edge. It’s the white wavy (or straight) line that can be found on the blade.
On the cheap katanas (which we don’t carry in our shop for several reasons) you will find a fake, acid brushed hamonline on the sword. It will look like this in most of the cases :
When you go higher up (+€200), you will find the acid enhanced hamons. These swords does have a real hamonline and therefore are differentially hardened. But because the cost of a descent polish is just too high for these swords, they use some acid to bring out the hamonline and give it the white “frosty” look. They achieve a similar look as a real polished blade. All of the Paul Chen swords does have a hamonline like this.
Personally I like the stone polished blades..and I advise you to save up some extra money to get a good polished blade in stead of a fake or acid enhanced one. Currently, te Huanuo Forge is the only one that is offering stone polished blades. You can choose a monosteel katana sword or a forged & folded high quality katana .
The visual appearance of a true hamon has a great deal to do with the level of polish on a sword. A descent polish in Japan will cost you around 1000-2000 euro.
The next thing we will take a closer look at is the quality of the blade. A lot of cheap samurai swords does have a soft blade and are not suitable to use for practising.