Like could some trader in medieval France be selling a katana or urumi amongst his wares that he obtained in his travels? Could a merchant in Japan have a zweihander or flamberge in his collection?

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    Please tell us where you have looked and what you have found so far. Questions which show prior research tend to get better answers. May 26, 2020 at 8:48
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    I do not think people in the European Middle Ages would have had the level of information about Japan to be able to recognize a Japanese weapon (and vice versa). So a Japanese sword in Europe would have appeared to be just a strange sword. Also, it is a lot of effort to transport mundane things like swords half-way across the world; merchants would probably rather have transported silk, for which Europeans were willing to pay a lot. Read here about the level of contact between East Asia and Europe in ancient and medieval times.
    – 0range
    May 27, 2020 at 1:45
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    In that rough timeframe, there was very little trade between Japan and China, much less further on. Are you particularly interested in Japan, or would Chinese weapons/armor count? (Since there were ongoing trade routes between China and Europe.) May 27, 2020 at 21:29
  • @GorttheRobot I’m just curious if trade between the east and west in general was a thing, since these two cultures were both likely enigmatic to eachother. May 27, 2020 at 22:38
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    I can imagine weapons as present between nobles or royalties, especially daggers or such. It is not clear what time period you are talking about, but diplomatic missions between the West and East existed for long. Even strange ones like the Japanese diplomatic mission to Vatican and Spain: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasekura_Tsunenaga
    – Greg
    May 28, 2020 at 15:49

1 Answer 1


Well, maybe not a katana, but if you count gunpowder, there is a fair bit of speculation that Chinese gunpowder weapons were used in Europe during the Mongol invasions.

Note that you'd have to research from there since it doesn't seem fully accepted that it actually happened, i.e. the Mongols might have only used gunpowder around China.

The other thing is that a katana might be a metallurgically brilliant sword, but I am unsure how it well it would perform in the hands of a European warrior, using local fencing techniques and facing other European warriors. There's a distinct lack of hand protection and Japanese close fighting did not seem to involve shields much. So it might not be treasured and valued, making notoriety, long distance trade and long term survival, of the weapon and its owner, unlikely.

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