Bananas and Katanas: A History, And Comparative Essay

You may have once thought that Bananas and Katanas were not particularly similar. Late one night though I had a thought; maybe they aren’t? I immediately began to mentally note down similarities and differences between the 2 objects.

The Banana


1. Any of several treelike Asian herbs of the genus Musa, especially M. acuminata, having a terminal crown of large, entire leaves and a hanging cluster of fruits.
2. The elongated, edible fruit of these plants, having a thick yellowish to reddish skin and white, aromatic, seedless pulp.

The Banana tree is actually not a tree. Strictly speaking it’s a herb, the stem of the tree does not contain the substance we know as wood. This would lead one logically to believe that the banana itself is actually a herb. Not so. The banana itself actually contains seeds, but because it’s commercially grown the seeds have been genetically modified enough so they are barely noticeable. So in fact the banana is a fruit and a herb.
According to the July 2000 edition of New Scientist, we share half our DNA with that of bananas. Makes you think really.
Bananas are curved because of the phototropic chemical Auxin which makes them grow towards the sun. Bananas like most other plants contain Chlorophyll which has a green pigment, this absorbs the green from natural sunlight and is used in photosynthesis. When bananas ripen, we see them turn yellow. This process of turning yellow is a result of the deterioration of the membrane of the chlorophyll. Once the protective membrane is gone, various enzymes act on the Vitamin A in the banana to produce its yellow colour.

Nutritional Information (100g) (Information will vary per banana)
Calories 95.0kcal
Carbohydrate 23.2g
Protein 1.2g
Fat 0.3g
Fibre 1.1g
A 3ìg
B1 0.04mg
B2 0.04mg
B6 0.36mg
C 10mg
E 0.3mg

The Katana


Japanese swords are measured in ‘Shaku’. Each ‘Shaku’ is around 12”. Blades longer than 2 Shaku are considered to be katanas. A katana “is only a katana if it is worn blade-up through a belt-sash” (from

Here is a labelled picture of a katana:

A Brief History

The katana (pronounced ka-ta-na) is a curved single-edged sword traditionally used by Japanese samurai. According to legend, the Japanese sword came into being around AD 700, and was invented by a man named Amakuni. The first recorded production of a katana was around 200 years later in AD 900. These swords were used regularly in bloody Japanese battles until the 15th century where guns effectively rendered the sword useless. The Japanese were reluctant to give up their technology so easily, and while guns still ruled the battlefields Katanas were still made albeit more decorative than functional. When the dictator Tokugawa Shogunate came to dictatorship he isolated guns and gunpowder and removed them from circulation. This lead to the rise of the Samurai as the top of their feudal cast system.

In 1853 Commadore Matthew Perry dragged Japan kicking and screaming from their isolationism to the real world. Funnily enough guns came back in a big fashion. The Haitorei edict put a stop to this banning all guns and swords and once again the Samurai class were all but crushed. They hated the edict and took arms and the resultant uprising against military dictatorship. They re-enstated their once figurehead emperor and nationalism rampaged through the masses. All this nationalism lead to World War I and the general abolition of Samurai. During the American occupation of Japan in WWII the Samurai Class was completely disbanded and concequently the use of Katanas was no more.

Katana Composition

The katana consists mostly of Iron and Carbon, often known as Carbon Steel, but often has traces of manganese, copper, titanium and tungsten.

Similarities and Differences

The Words: Banana and Katana have the same number of syllables and the vowel sounds used are the same in each word. Note: I am basing this on my own accent (Thames Valley). This may not of course apply to you.

The Shape: Both have a half crescent shape. If you hold either correctly, the pointy bit points towards you. There are 2 reasons for the Katanas shape; the first is that the curved outward shape is stronger (demonstrated in Car Windscreens and The Surface Tension of Water). The second is that the samurai were often found on horseback and it’s easier to slay thy enemies with a curved sword. Bananas are curved because of the phototropic chemical Auxin which makes them grow towards the sun.

Diet: Aside from all sorts of vitamins, the banana is an excellent source of potassium. The highly volatile metal ironically helps us regulate our blood pressure and maintain our bodies’ fluids.
The katana is an excellent source of Iron.* Iron mainly flows about our blood, giving its red pigment to the Haemoglobin. Haemoglobin as we know ferries around oxygen in our bodies. Without Iron, haemoglobin can’t do its job; adults become sluggish and lethargic, while children suffer from ADHD-like symptoms. Iron is also crucial to proper muscle function.

Exports: Bananas are a major export of such countries as Dominica, Columbia, Guadeloupe and Panama. None of these countries are terribly renowned for exporting katanas, nor is Japan for its banana exporting. In this way at least they are dissimilar.

Beauty: It is my belief that every single thing that nature has created is beautiful in its own way, be it aesthetically, functionally or evolutionarily. Only things that man create or destroy are unpleasing to experience. For example the city of Slough in southeast England. Katanas by reputation are things of beauty. Each one is painstakingly folded and refolded, the hilt is decorated lavishly and the sword itself is engraved at the hilt.

Colour Change in Production: The banana changes from green to yellow as it ripens (explained above). The sword changes colour too, the metal is heated to the point where it glows red then hammered into shape.

*When licking katanas, I advise you lick the blunt side.
Note well; I will not accept responsibility for injuries caused by licking swords or anything else you do as a result of reading this Writeup.
New Scientist