Many people especially of the male persuasion desire to put their hands on these weapons.
Saito-san or the "soba" lady (buckwheat) as I call her took her husband's katana and hid it somewhere in their capacious home. He has not been able to find it. Sumiko seen in the background of one of the photographs did not make any effort to disguise her disapproval of these 'boys toys'.
They are still being manufactured on a small scale by craftsmen that have been designated as national treasures.
It is probably some of the best steel ever made, an art that is probably about 800 years old. A bar of steel is flattened, folded and flattened again to produce a blade of many layers of steel. At another stage charcoal and clay are applied to the back edge and the blade is heated again and then quenched rapidly in water. The sharp edge becomes hard, while the rest of the blade remains more flexible. The rapid cooling in conjunction with the carbon coating causes the blade to curve in the characteristic arc seen in katana.
While Katsuo Kimura was still in the military he was given a promotion. His home village decided to honour him by presenting him with a katana. Feeling a responsibility for the weapon he decided he had better learn how to take good care of his katana. He joined a club of katana owners. They consisted mostly of people older than himself, but he gained their respect. As they die, many of them have been leaving their katana for Katsuo. As a result he now has quite a collection of katana and associated weapons.
Click on Katana to see photographs on Picasa.