Hey. This is my first entry into this community. I'm not totally into the Dark Ages of Anglo-Saxon Europe, but I do have a fondness for collecting cutlery, despite my "negative cash flow situation". The sword of which I would like to write about is a straight-blade katana with a most unusual design, and a weapon made known by the fictional blind Japanese vigilante swordsman, Zatoichi.
Zatoichi was simply a gambler and a drifter when he wasn't whupping samurai ass, so when he traveled, he needed to keep his sword concealed. His weapon also had to accomodate his supposed striking style, which was a type of iai, I guess. Iai usually means the act or art of drawing the blade... nothing more, nothing less. Obviously, creative liberties had been taken with the concept of this practice, and in Zatoichi's case, he had the art down to being able to draw, slice, and resheath in almost an instant. Therefore, for misdirection purposes, and because the tsuba would get in the way of making a clean grip for a quick draw, he had his sword disguised as a blindman's cane.
This style of sword can usually be noticed by the fact that it has no tsuba (duh), and the scabbard and hilt are uniform from top to bottom, with few adornments. It's blade was supposed to about as strong as other katanas, that is to say, not very. But then again, it was only for one cut dispatchment, so it's a bit of a moot point.
I dig the zato because it is a strange-looking katana, no curved blade or telling adornments. It sits quietly in it's wooden sheath, serving a helpful purpose until it's other duty calls upon it to be a force of violence. It's a nifty duality, I think.