How to Find Information on Japanese WWII Swords & Their Makers

Written by jeffery keilholtz
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How to Find Information on Japanese WWII Swords & Their Makers
Japanese swords are historic combat weapons. (sword image by Andrey Kiselev from

Swords are and have remained a staple of Japanese culture and military since the year 900. The Samurai were part of an ancient military tradition in Japan and the various swords from this tradition were still present during World War II. Samurai katana swords were issued in mass production for the Japanese military beginning in 1935 and continued throughout the whole of World War II. If you possess a Samurai katana sword, you should follow a series of steps to identify certain markings to have a sense of its authenticity. Authentic swords are valuable and are considered important pieces of history by serious collectors.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Sword
  • Measuring Tape
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Computer

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  1. 1

    Examine the blade. Hold the blade horizontally. Real Samurai WWII katana swords are aged and may have loose fitting scabbards. Measure the blade from end to end. Katana swords were manufactured with a single blade and extended 27.5 inches in length. Identifying these characteristics can help expedite the professional authentication process.

  2. 2

    Look for serial numbers. The serial number is another sign of authenticity. Tens of thousands of katana swords were mass produced for the Japanese Imperial Army. The serial number on each sword is engraved above the blood groove -- the linear, concave strip extending from the tip of the sword all the way down the body -- toward the bottom of the blade.

  3. 3

    Examine the scabbard. The serial number on the scabbard should match the number on the blade. Notice the colour of the scabbard. The colour should be a dark brown -- an official colour of the JIA. Scabbards also included engraved pictograms. Many JIA scabbards included images of cherry blossoms.

  4. 4

    Visit a professional website dealing in authentic Samurai sword manufacturing or repairing. Japanese Swords 4 Samurai, for example, employs Samurai sword experts who can help you identify the katana sword. Contact one of these experts by phone or e-mail. Explain the sword you possess in detail -- all of the characteristics you notice -- and acknowledge your interest in learning more about the sword and its maker. An expert here can assist you in confirming the authenticity of the sword and identifying the original maker.

  5. 5

    Search online for general Japanese WWII sword and sword maker information. Visit a website specialising in Japanese war history. The Quan Online website, for example, includes an extensive database of information and images of Japanese swords along with historical and manufacturing information about these weapons. Quan Online provides information on all kinds of WWII Japanese military antiques -- from training bayonets to police and military officer swords.

Tips and warnings

  • Swords are very sharp. Keep away from children and handle with extreme caution.

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