According to Katana Export, only 250 Japanese artisans create authentic Shinken swords based on traditional katanas once used by samurai, and one of the most extensive collections of authentic swords is the Japanese Sword Museum in Tokyo. The best Shinkens made by artisans usually cost between $12,000 and $25,000 each. Artisans are only allowed to make 24 swords per year.
One sword takes anywhere from six to eight months to produce using traditional Japanese methods. Shinken swords are properly balanced, very sharp and flexible, and they have a "nioi" along the entire length of the blade. The nioi is a wavy line made during the process of forging the sword. Authentic Shinken swords are used by sword masters for training or for cutting practice at a dojo.
The Japanese Sword Museum features rotating exhibitions, including swords from various eras of history and culturally important swords from the country. The museum occasionally hosts conventions and sword forging competitions.
In the United States, the Imperial Forge boasts 1,000 "limited edition" katanas that have more than 16,000 layers and 14 folds of carbon steel. The blade length is 29 inches and has a weight of 2 pounds, 10.5 ounces. These swords are handmade with a 5.5-inch balance point, and they have an overall length of 42.25 inches.