the government. When WW2 arrived swords went into mass production, this time by machine although some officers had swords that were handed down put into military mounts. Now in modern times swords are only made for the Martial Arts.
Japans swords are classified Old (Koto) and new (Shinto) from 1603AD. The old swords are best but forgeries of famous names are common. The sword dictionaries list over 10,000 sword makers covering period of 1200 years. Most of the old swords were not signed in the beginning.
The oldest Japanese swords still in existence date back to the 4th century. The blades are straight, and based on the Chinese and Korean swords of the same period. Initially the Japanese swords were of poor quality and not tempered well. The quality swords of the era were brought into Japan from the mainland. As more and more sword smiths arrived in Japan from China and Korea, they taught the craft to the Japanese. Originally the sword smiths made swords close to sources of iron; the first sites for sword making were Yamato, Mutsu, and San-in.
As the warrior class of Japan began to take power in the 9th century (Heian Period 794 - 1191), and internal fighting and turmoil was rife, the sword shape began to change from a straight blade to a curved blade. Although the reasons for the change are not known, the type of warfare certainly influenced it. During this time it changed from fighting on foot to fighting from horseback; the slashing weapon was more effective. The swords of this period were up to 4 feet long. The blade went from a stabbing and cleaving weapon to a cutting and slashing weapon. It was also during the Heian period that the quality of the swords began to improve enormously.
Unique Japanese style blade
The birth of the unique Japanese style blade
One of the popular legends is that Amakuni and his son Amakura were standing outside their sword smithing shop when the army was returning from battle. As a sword maker to the Emperor's army Amakuni was expecting to be acknowledged by the Emperor, as had been the norm in the past. However, in this case he was snubbed by the Emperor and soon understood why when he saw many of the sword blades carried by the soldiers were broken. He was determined to research and build the perfect sword. After a period