Ever since I was a kid, I really liked swords. Probably because of the 80s shows I grew up with; the hero usually had some kind of sword. It pretty much stuck with me ever since.
Once when I was in college, I ended up sort of stranded on campus for the winter break. (It was a whole mess with housing and registration, best not to go into detail.)
Anyway, a couple of my buddies let me crash in their apartment for a few days, and one of them had a katana and a wicked-looking broadsword. He let me play around with them, and I found I really liked the katana.
It's a very light sword for one with a two-handed grip, so you can make some pretty quick strokes without having a blade as thin as say, a rapier. But at the same time, you can make very forceful cutting blows like you would expect from a european broadsword.
The Japanese have a cutting test they would put a katana (and its wielder) through. They wet a thick mat, rolled it, stood it on end, and the swordsman would see how many cuts it would take to slice all the way through. If the swordsman was experienced and the katana was well-made, he could slash through it with a single stroke, something euro-style swords can only recently lay claim to.
But moving on, I finally got my hands on a decently made sword. And this one is a real katana, and not one of these home-shopping-network stainless steel numbers that would chip and shatter if ever used in a stage fight or what have you. It's made of high-carbon steel with a visible temper line, the blade is sharp, and I believe the hilt has a full tang.
It's a very good quality blade, and without the cost of these absolutly historically accurate recreations that run you thousands of dollars. This was well under $200.
If anyone wants one, Atlanta Cutlery has them, and it seems they're a very reputable vendor. Their site is kinda funny right now though, if that just takes you to their front page, you can navigate to the katana from Ethnic Knifes and Swords -> Practical Katana Sword
Hmm. I really ought to think of a name for it...