The 5 Most Expensive Katanas in the World Worn by The Samurais


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Japanese katana swords are among the world’s most expensive blades, deeply ingrained in Japanese culture. This veneration has been preserved for centuries and remains vibrant today.

The most esteemed and valuable katanas are those crafted by legendary Japanese smiths and wielded by samurai in battle. This article will explore the top five most expensive and historically significant katana swords.

Understanding Katana and Tachi Difference

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Two types of Japanese Katana, or a tachi (top) and a uchigatana (bottom) – (Image Credit – SwordIs)

Katanas and tachis are famous two-handed Japanese swords seen all over modern media, especially in anime. “Katana” means “sword” in Japanese and can refer to any type of single-edged blade used with both hands.

Tachi sabers are older and feature a much stronger curve, designed for use on horseback. They are worn with the sharp edge facing down, or the traditional style while the sword hangs off the user’s belt.

Katanas came later, have a softer curve than the tachi, and are worn with the sharp edge facing up or the sky. This style, known as “uchigatana,” refers to how they’re carried upside-down in their scabbards beside a smaller short sword known as the wakizashi.

In Japan, both tachis and katanas are called katana swords, but outside Japan, they are categorized differently, explaining their visual differences in the list.

1.   Fukushima Masanori Samurai Tachi – USD 100,000,000

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The “Fukushima Masanori Sword” is a staple in the sword-making world – (Image Credit – World Art)

The Fukushima Masanori tachi sword is famous worldwide as the priciest and most prestigious katana, valued at about $100 million. It ranks among the top and most valuable as well as expensive swords globally.

Owned by Fukushima Masanori, a notable figure among the Seven Spears of Shizugatake, he was a Japanese daimyo (feudal lord) during the late 16th century. This era, known as the Sengoku Jidai, was marked by fierce samurai warrior battles and is remembered as one of Japan’s most turbulent periods in Japanese history.

2.   Yamatorige / Sanchomo – USD 5,000,000

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The blade of the legendary Yamatorige that went through many changes and came with a guard-less design – (Image Credit – Markus Sesko)

The Yamatorige is one of the most expensive samurai swords made in the 13th century during the Kamakura Period (11th-14th century). It’s famous for its bright hamon, which looks like flames or a mountain bird’s feathers.

Today, it’s considered a national treasure in Japan because of its historical importance and excellent craftsmanship. The sword has seen some changes over time which only added to its historical significance.

It’s a curved tachi sword once used by Uesugi Kagekatsu in the Sengoku Jidai period. He was the successor to Uesugi Kenshin, who was known as “The God of War” for his courage in battles involving the Japanese shogunate. The sword is now on display at the Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum.

3.   Yamaubagiri Kunihiro – USD 2,030,000

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The Yamaubagiri Kunihiro that was used before and after the Tokugawa Shogunate – (Image Credit – Japanese Sword Legends)

The Yamaubagiri Kunihiro is a famous Japanese katana known for its true katana-style features, being one of the earliest types of Japanese katana swords in history. Named after its creator, Kunihiro, a highly respected Japanese swordsmith who was also a dedicated samurai.

This sword was made in the late 16th century during the Sengoku Jidai, on order from the lord of the Ashikaga region. It is therefore a battle-hardened type of blade that has seen various types of combat and warfare.

Thanks to Kunihiro’s exceptional skill, this high-quality sword is tied to legends, including one where it was used to defeat an evil witch. These stories have made the sword even more famous and valuable.

4.   Okanehira – USD 1,830,000

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The Okanehira featuring a shiny reflection after centuries of existence while on displayed in the Tokyo National Museum – (Image Credit – Tokyo National Museum)

The Okanehira, made by the swordsmith Kanekira, is a tachi sword from the Heian Period (8th-12th century). It shows the early features of a katana making it one of the early katana masterpieces. This sword has some of the rarest fittings known as momoyama style, which were lost after countless of battles.

It’s thought to have been used by Ikeda Terumasa, one of Oda Nobunaga’s top generals. Nobunaga played a key role in unifying Japan. Terumasa took part in important battles, including the famous Battle of Sekigahara, which shaped Japan’s future.

This sword was honored for centuries and even used during the Sengoku Jidai period. Today, it’s displayed in the Tokyo National Museum and is next to many other swords considered as works of art.

5.   Kamakura Katana – USD 418,000

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Some of the katana swords in the collection of Dr. Compton that were made during the 13th century that were inspired by the legendary Masamune himself  – (Image Credit – Nihonto Museum)

The Kamakura katana is an ancient sword from the 13th century. This period marked the beginning of katana blades and the rise of the samurai class. It was also when famous swordsmiths like Masamune influenced and drastically impacted the world of Japanese samurai swords with his exceptional blade-smithing skills.

Dr. Walter Ames Compton, a European collector, bought this sword for nearly half a million dollars, studied it, and preserved it among many of his other collection items.

Known as one of the earliest and best-preserved katana swords, its early origin makes it a prime example of the classic katana long sword.

Modern Katana Swords and Their Prices

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Testing the might of a modern-made Japanese katana sword – (Image Credit – Maikoya)

Katana swords continue to be crafted in Japan, adhering to ancient and traditional methods and materials such as tamahagane steel. Known as nihonto, these swords are highly sought after and can be quite expensive, with price tags ranging from USD 3,000 to USD 60,000.

American or Chinese-made replicas mimic these traditional techniques and characteristics but are more affordable due to their lower authenticity. These replicas serve well as beginner swords for martial arts training and cutting practice, offering a more accessible option for enthusiasts.

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