History of the Katana

In honor of our new Cardboard Weaponry, let’s take a trip back in time and across the globe to explore the story behind one of our most culturally significant creations: the katana.

Say hello to feudal Japan, circa 1400. The katana first appeared around this time in the Muromachi Period, and acted as the next version of the more basic tachi sword.  The difference between the two began as a pretty nominal one, because some samurai prefered to carry their swords with the sharp edge facing up instead of down. Thanks to these early trendsetters, the nature of Japanese combat took a giant step forward. That simple change, which makes it easier and faster for warriors to pull out their weapons, marked the beginning of the katana’s path through history.

Swordsmiths caught on to the movement and started to design their weapons with the new style in mind. The katana’s most distinguishing characteristics are the way that it is worn (in that efficient edge-up fashion) and the placement of the maker’s signature. Because samurai carried their katanas upside-down in comparison to tachi swords, swordsmiths also switched the placement of their signatures to the opposite side of the blade so that their names would remain visible on the outside of the katana. This is probably the best way to tell what kind of sword you are looking at, since the carry method can be a bit unclear when it’s not strapped onto someone’s back.

Now, time for a real kicker: traditional katanas are not made of cardboard! Shocking, I know. Unlike our version, which is pretty fierce in its own right, true katanas are so strong because they are built from a Japanese super-steel called tamahaganeUnfortunately, Cardboard Safari didn’t quite have the resources to replicate that intense process. But hey, ours is much safer to keep in the house.