An authentic tantō to collect
The tantō is a traditional Japanese sword that is very interesting to collect. Its blade is less than 11.8 inches, so it's easier for a beginner to handle than a classic katana, whose blade is more than twice as long. Less risk of injury for a saber, while still having all the qualities.
But that's not its only advantage for collectors. Smaller than the Japanese katana, it takes up less space. If you compare the space taken up by twenty tantōs and that required by the same number of katanas, there's a big difference. If you don't have a lot of space, the katana collection will be more complicated to display.
Last but not least, the tantō has another advantage: it's less well-known than its longer-bladed counterpart and therefore less widespread. Less risk of having the same Japanese sword models as your friends or neighbors.
The tantō for successful decoration
The size of the tantō is also important when you want one or more for decorative purposes. Where a classical katana might be hard to find, the tantō will always find a suitable place. A large wall is not necessary; a space of about twenty-four centimetres is sufficient. As apartments are smaller than they used to be, this is a criterion not to be overlooked.
Even without considering the practical and functional aspects we've just mentioned, a tantō will have a more sober, less imposing effect than a katana measuring around a meter. It will be a more discreet decoration, also less marked. If you love Japanese swords and want to decorate with one, but the imposing visual aspect bothers you, the tantō is perfect for you. It will satisfy your craving but without being too present.
Less common than the katana, tantōs are less widespread, so your decoration will gain in originality. They are Japanese swords nonetheless, despite their size, but they have all the qualities of models with larger blades.
The tantō, a thousand-year-old objet d'art
Like its Japanese sword counterparts of all kinds, the tantō is a historical and artistic curiosity. Made in Japan for several hundred years, it is the fruit of the labor of several master craftsmen, each specialized in his or her own field of expertise. From the blacksmith who works the metal to the togishi, the sword-blade polisher, all scrupulously respect the various stages to create an object close to perfection.
Practices have changed little since then, and it's still the same long process involving various specialists. The major difference lies in the fact that the quality of steel, tamahagane, in feudal Japan was very poor. As a result, the time required to start forging has been shortened. As the quality of the steel has improved significantly, the result is a more satisfying steel.
The tantō is still produced in a fairly traditional way, with the blacksmith working by hand. The blade undergoes selective clay tempering at very high temperatures, which imparts suppleness while imparting strength.