This samurai sword, or katana, has a handle with an inset of ray skin, and at one point had a cord braid attached. The blade itself has a small kissaki (point), and a faint, irregular yakiba pattern, or tempered surface along the blade edge. The sword guard (tsuba) has a shrine motif on one side and a figure of a mythical deity carrying a figure on the other side. The scabbard is made with an inset of shark skin.
The sword date range falls within the Edo period (1600-1868), a time of peace in which samurai accoutrements would have been used as status symbols rather than as weapons.
A katana is a long sword that is over two shaku long. A shaku, the traditional unit of measurement for Japanese swords, is equivalent to about a foot, though it was longer before 1891. A short sword, or shoto, is between one and two shaku long.