Well if your willing to travel to the montreal area in quebec, there are a few good places. Great quality, and great prices. Especially considering the fact that the usd is a lil higher then our money, if u live close to the border it might be worth it.
Clemson... great idea! Except for the fact that the only martial arts person I'd go to is my old sensei, and I'm still afraid he'd want to kick my ass...
From what I managed to pick up from my sensei when I was still studying under him, any katana worth having has all its own merits, style, and art. Stuff like whether or not the temper-line gets wider above the bend leading to the tip. Stuff like the exact curvature of the blade, and the layering process involved in it.
Personally, I'd rather learn the pros and cons of all this from somebody that's not trying to sell me something.
Paul Chen makes excellent Katanas. I have Two of the Practical Katanas and am very happy with them. the blades are differentially tempered so as to be flexable yet hold a razor edge. the edge is 60 on the Rockwell scale and the back is 40. The blades come very sharp. These Katanas are made to be used.. About $175.00 - $200.00 for the Practical Katana. Of course there are others in his line that are made in the traditional way with folded steele and all the other traditional materials for upwards of $2000.00.
All can be purchased on line fron CAS Iberia or Smokey Mountain Knife Works.