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How To Display A Katana?

How to display a Katana?

You’re the proud owner of a katana, and you’d like to display it proudly in your living room. There are several supports available, but also several traditions relating to katana display, which we present below.

Katana exhibition in feudal Japan

There are a few ancestral Japanese traditions relating to katana display that have endured since the time of the samurai.

The katana blade upwards

When displayed on a stand, the Katana blade, whether bare or in its scabbard, faces upwards, with the Ha towards the sky. This is a mark of respect for the sword, as well as preventing friction between the support and the blade, which could damage them. A Katana with the blade facing upwards is also easy for the owner to grasp on the Katanakake, and quick to use in an emergency. It’s also a spiritual way for samurai to honor the Kamis, the Shinto deities at the origin of the universe.

Handle orientation: War or Peace?

The hilt to the right means that the sword is ready to be seized, samurai being right-handed, and therefore marks a climate of war. In peacetime, on the other hand, the katana’s hilt (Tsuka) is presented to the left, and the tip (kissaki 切先) to the right.

Displaying the Katana with the Tsuka to the left also highlights the Mei, the blacksmith’s signature (Katana-kaji) on authentic Japanese swords.

Different Supports

Once on display, the katana deserves a special place. Invest in a display stand or traditional stand (Katanakake), designed to accommodate the blade and hold it in place to prevent accidents. As supports you can find :

  • A simple horizontal wooden stand.
  • A multi-level stand to hold several katana, form the Daisho with a Wakizashi or display Tantos.
  • A vertical stand. Aesthetically pleasing, but not recommended as it is less stable and the protective oil may run off with gravity. Mune should be displayed with the cutting edge facing the support.
  • A wall bracket.

Display tips

  • A horizontal stand allows you to show off the full length of the katana, exposing its side from Kashira (pommel) to Kissaki (tip) and revealing the tsuka ito, menuki, fuchi, hamon as well as the blade and its details and its saya (scabbard).
  • Avoid direct sunlight or bright lights, as prolonged exposure can lead to discoloration of the Ito and deterioration of the weapon over time.
  • For the most precious pieces, ideally opt for a showcase or humidity-controlled storage area to protect the blade, cloth and handle from corrosion, or display it in its scabbard.
  • As soon as you touch the blade with your fingers, corrosion due to your sweat may appear, so be sure to clean the blade after every manipulation.

Cleaning and maintenance

Care of your Katana is essential to preserve its impeccable condition. Gently wipe the blade with a clean, soft cloth to remove any dust or residue. Periodically apply a thin coat of special katana oil to protect the steel from oxidation and preserve its shine. For major restoration or polishing work, call on the expertise of professional sword smiths who can apply traditional Japanese techniques with the utmost skill and care.

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