Sometimes referred to as the the Soul of the Samurai, the Japanese sword have been esteemed as the sharpest and most prized of all martial weapons. First introduced to Japan by Chinese and Korean artisans, it began life as a Straight Sword (Chokuto) and was adapted sometime during the middle Heian period (794-1185 AD) to the elegantly curved single edged blade we see today. The early curved sword or Tachi was almost half as wide at the tip as it was at the base with the most curve toward the Tsuka (Hilt). But during the Kamakura period (1185-1333) with the increase in warfare and the two invasions of the Mongols as well as changes to their fighting style, they found this design to be too light weight, so the blades became a little shorter, thicker toward the point, more evenly curved and robust. It is these swords that most swordsmiths today try to emulate and it is about this time that the sword adopted the name we see today "Katana". The vast majority of Japanese Swords we see today are reproductions and they vary in quality from wall display only, test cutting (Tamashigiri) to Nihonto (Traditional made Swords) depending on price.