Analysis / Katanas Are Just Better
According to Matt Easton, the curved shape of the katana and the stiffness of the blade make it relatively forgiving for a beginning cutter; it actually takes more skill to cut through a tatami mat using, for instance, a sharply tapered Western longsword, since you need to have perfect edge alignment and hit using the center of percussion. The Katana also has a center of percussion, but a differentially hardened katana is more harmonically "dead" compared to a through-hardened one, which in combination with the shape contributes to it being less finicky about which part of the edge you use to strike. Of course, there are still plenty of ways to mess up the cut, and performing tameshigiri well requires practice. As already mentioned, making a katana in the traditional way is extremely labor-intensive. This is why, according to Sword Buyers Guide, the starting price for a newly made katana from a licensed Japanese swordsmith is about 4,000 USD, with the average being closer to 7,000 USD; the best can cost up to 30,000 USD, and you can almost never order them online; you have to go to Japan and prove yourself worthy of owning the sword! High-quality Chinese-made katana are in the $1,000-2,000 range. A good, functional Chinese-made katana with a mono steel blade can be bought for $300 or less, but these sacrifice a great deal in fit and finish, especially regarding the tsuka (hilt) and fittings. And by Japanese law, a sword isn't a nihonto unless it is made from tatara steel using the traditional methods, so your $300 Chinese sword technically isn't a "real" katana despite what the marketing may tell you.