Owning a katana is one of the most fulfilling things any sword collector can have. This blade is rich in history, steeped in Japanese culture, and represents the world’s finest art form.
Unfortunately, buying katana can also be nerve-wracking. With so many counterfeits flooding the market, picking an authentic katana can be challenging. Knowing where to buy a katana saves you effort, while maximizing your chance of owning a piece of Japanese art, legend, history, and culture.
Only reputable sources can furnish you with authentic Japanese swords, including katana. Don’t worry, we’ll share the best shops to buy a real katana. Please read on.
Where to Buy a Katana?
Any katana produced outside Japan (i.e., China) is almost always counterfeit. A few enterprising Japanese might want to exploit the katana’s popularity, creating fakes they sell as authentic.
Some might even price these swords like the real thing. Others might mass-produce katanas and market them as replicas. Unfortunately, replicas and counterfeits are NOT authentic.
Hence, you might want to head to the following establishments to buy a katana – the authentic one.
This store is making waves among authentic katana and Japanese sword enthusiasts. Its offerings whisper tales of discipline, honor, and valor, which can only come from Japan’s skilled swordsmiths. From antiques to modern blades, this store is the perfect venue for buying katana.
- Website: https://tokyo-nihonto.com/
A leading provider of high-quality, authentic Japanese art, including swords, Ginza Seikodo is a favorite of local and international katana collectors. Patrons don’t mind the mostly-prohibitive price tags because they know these swords are one-of-a-kind.
Ginza Seikodo’s collection of NBTHK-certified swords separates it from other shops selling authentic katana. For example, it has an NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon (third-highest sword rank) Wakizashi signed by the legendary swordsmith, Osafune Morimitsu, in February 1411.
It even has an NBTHK Tokubetsu Juyo Token-certified (the highest class of sword or exemplary artistic value) Kanemitsu-forged katana.
And if you shop authentic katana at Ginza Seikodo, don’t forget to check out their armor, fittings, and literature collection. It’s a trip you’ll never forget.
- Website: https://ginzaseikodo.com
- Store Address: Seikod Bldg. 8-11-14 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0061 Japan
A non-Japanese might have established Nihonto in 1998, but no one argues with Fred Weissberg when it comes to authentic katana. After all, this Westerner is a staunch ally and member of the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai (NBTHK) – Japan’s foremost organization in preserving the ancient art of excellent Japanese sword making.
Buying a katana from Nihonto is like having a trip down memory lane, where hard-to-find authentic antique Japanese swords are available for the thousands of fans worldwide.
For example, you can buy an Ohara Sanemori-forged Tachi from the late-Heian Era or a 17th-century katana by Omi no Kami Tsugihiro. If that doesn’t fancy you, Shodai Echizen Masanori’s 17th-century katana should.
- Website: https://nihonto.com/
Another popular platform for buying authentic katana is Aoi-Art, a Tokyo-based company specializing in antique Japanese swords, with some dating as far back as the 17th century.
Like many katana shops, Aoi-Art also has an online presence, allowing international visitors to place their orders and leave the paperwork (export requirements) to the store. Unfortunately, its online offerings are limited, offering only a glimpse of what Aoi-Art has in store.
Hence, you might want to visit Aoi-Art in Tokyo if you’re in the country. It’s the most sensible action to buy katana – the real ones, of course.
- Website: https://www.aoijapan.com/
- Store Address: 1-54-6 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 151-0053 Japan
Tozando first opened its doors to katana enthusiasts in 1989. And since then, the brand has grown to become one of Japan’s most respected stores for buying authentic katana.
You have two options. You can shop for authentic Japanese swords (i.e., Tanto, Wakizashi, and katana) from Tozando’s official web page for optimum convenience.
Alternatively, you can visit them in Kyoto and marvel at the shop’s stunning sword collection. Most prospective buyers prefer shortlisting swords online and visiting the shop for a more “personal” sword assessment.
- Website: https://tozandoshop.com/
- Store Address: 451-1 Shinhakusuimaru-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, 602-8205 Japan
This Tokyo shop selling real katana and other Japanese swords precedes Tozando by nearly two decades. It has an impressive collection of antique bladed weapons. And although most offerings don’t have a Tokubetsu NBTHK certification, the swords remain incredibly beautiful.
Ginza Choshuya also has an e-commerce site for potential buyers to check sword offerings and availability. If you spot a sword you like, you can always visit the physical store for a closer katana inspection.
- Website: https://www.choshuya.co.jp/
- Store Address: 3-10-4 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Samurai Store International
Foreign travelers often find shopping for authentic Japanese swords intimidating because sales staff often speak only Nihongo. Thankfully, you’ll never feel “alien” when buying katana at the Samurai Store International in Tokyo.
This authentic katana store has English-speaking staff, allowing foreigners to ask questions about their potential purchases. The shop also has samurai armor, fittings, and other items reminiscent of feudal Japan.
- Website: https://samuraistore.com/
- Store Address: Seikod Bldg. 8-11-14 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0061 Japan
Historic Kanazawa is not only one of Ishikawa Prefecture’s prized gems. It’s also home to Higashiyama Nihon-tosho-gu, one of Japan’s foremost stores for buying authentic katana.
Although the store offers newly-made and pre-Shinsaku blades, sword collectors love Higashiyama’s unique approach to sword collecting. Each blade is like a historical journey, including its impeccable craftsmanship.
If no sword appeals to you at Tozando or the shop doesn’t have what you’re looking for, maximize your Kyoto trip by checking out Yoshichiro Yamashiro. This shop is another Kyoto hotspot for katana collectors and Japanese sword enthusiasts.
Be amazed at Yoshichiro’s hand-forged katana, giving you a feel of ancient tradition with each sword you buy. Seasoned Togishi (sword polishers) complete the swords, making them extra valuable. Hence, you can expect the prices to be on the high end.
If you love rubbing elbows with the elite and world-class sword collectors, Sengo Muramasa is your go-to. It’s an upscale shop reserved only for the world’s best. However, its vibe still screams classic Japanese.
Sengo Muramasa’s katana offerings have exceptionally sharp edges without undermining balance. It’s like the spirit of Muramasa – one of Japan’s master swordsmiths – is in each blade. Swinging these swords should be equally satisfying.
If your Tozando and Yoshichiro Yamashiro adventures yielded no results, you can always check out Kyoto’s other authentic samurai sword shop – Kyoto Samurai.
Although the shop’s sword collection is impressive, you might want to shop earlier to avoid squeezing through throngs of tourists flocking this city section. It’s a foreigner’s paradise for everything samurai-related.
Miyairi Bizen Hamono
Some like a katana with a simple yet elegant design, while others prefer ornate elements in their swords, including striking well-defined patterns. If you’re the latter, Miyari Bizen Hamono’s Bizen swords will take your breath away.
This Osafune Japanese sword shop is a favorite of katana collectors who want stunning decorative elements in their blades. These swords are one-of-a-kind, reflecting the region’s rich sword making heritage.
A haven for high-end Japanese sword collectors, Tokyo-based Tsukasa Murakami is the go-to for the ultimate in custom katana. Like other “personalized” items, Tsukasa swords have a hefty price tag.
On the bright side, you can expect the katana to be nothing short of a masterpiece. Tsukasa guarantees only the highest-quality swords in their collection, making buying katana worthwhile.
Seki City in Japan’s Gifu Prefecture is home to Imai Hamono, a small Japanese sword shop offering high-quality blades at reasonable prices. You can pick from a wide selection of traditional and modern katana designs, perfect for complementing your growing collection.
Seki City Swordsmith Museum
Nothing appeals to you at Imai Hamono? Then head over to the Seki City Swordsmith Museum. While the establishment has a more educational purpose, it doesn’t mind venturing into commercialism. This institution complements its cultural, art, and historical exhibitions with an impressive collection of authentic katana for sale.
Legal Considerations for Buying an Authentic Katana
Buying katana from Japanese government-regulated and licensed stores helps avoid legal pitfalls to sword ownership in Japan. But what “legal impediments” you must know that might challenge your katana ownership?Registration
You cannot buy a katana or any Japanese sword classified as a “weapon” because the Japanese government prohibits and penalizes “deadly weapons.” Hence, your authentic katana must be an “art sword” and have the necessary documentation to prove the sword isn’t a weapon.
And since only “owners” of “art swords” can carry katana, you must transfer the ownership title to your name and register it with the appropriate Japanese agency. Only then can you bring the katana to your home country.
Thankfully, duly-licensed and authorized Japanese sword stores can facilitate the paperwork. And that’s why knowing where to buy a katana matters. If you buy elsewhere, you’ll have to shoulder the extra hassle of transferring and registering katana ownership.Export Regulations
Japan considers the katana a national treasure, especially swords with NBTHK certification. Hence, it’s nearly impossible to buy such swords and bring them out of Japan.
However, proper documentation can help you avoid this legal obstacle. Authentic katana stores duly registered with the Japanese Education Board and having a Torokusho license can provide you with the necessary paperwork.
Bring the documentation to the Agency for Cultural Affairs and apply for a permit to export the katana (bring it home to whichever country you’re from). Only then can you travel back home with your katana.
Knowing where to buy a katana guarantees smoother and safer (more legal) transactions. It also ensures you get authentic swords and not knock-offs. Katana from these stores might be more expensive, but they save you from future legal hassles.
Trust only these stores and other duly-recognized and certified samurai sword shops. They are your best bet for owning an authentic katana.