To understand, date and identify Japanese swords it is important to study the shape and form of blades, the patterning (hada) of the surface metal, the pattern and age of file marks (yasurime) on the tang, the shape and features of the hamon and so on.
It is also very difficult to gain any understanding of Nihontô without being able to decipher Japanese characters (kanji) to read the signatures (mei) and other inscriptions on sword tangs (nakago). There is much information on the site to help you translate mei, together with information to enable you to describe various features of Japanese swords so that you can communicate easily about them. Please report any errors or inoperative links which you may find.
© 1996 - 2007, 2014 Alan Quinn