Japanese sword(nihonto) glossary



The katana() is a type of Japanese long sword or backsword, curved and a single edge, traditionally used by the Japanese samurai, sometimes known as samurai sword. 

The katana is a cutting sword, similar to a European sabre, (it may have influence the sabre), but with a long hilt enabling use with two hands. One influence was the Tachi (great sword), which was first used as on cutting and stabbing sword on horseback, enabling the rider to reach down to cut opponents attempting to get low on the ground to avoid the slash and proved to be a great battle sword to fight enemies on horseback .During the Kamakura period, noticed by foot soldiers for its strong blade and cutting power, so much that some blades cut down from the original Tachi, some due to battle damage others to create a purpose made shorter blade.

Another influence was from China, a sword used around the 9th century by foot soldiers, the Chokutō (直刀 This was a similar single edged straight weapon imported earlier around the 9th century. Blending the two together created the Katana which came in to widespread use during the Muromachi period, and the uneasy peace that followed.

The Katana in use:

Its curvature is generally gentle enough to allow for effective thrusting as well its devastating slashing ability.  it was predominantly used with a two-handed tsuka(grip)but many extant historical Japanese sword arts include single-handed techniques use. Unlike the Tachi, which was carried edge down, it has been traditionally worn edge up for a quick draw, from the 16th century on. It was worn inserted in the sash with the design of the tsuba and other ornaments on view with that orientation in mind. 

The katana was typically paired with wakizashi and tanto. At home  the katana was generally stored above the wakizashi on a rack when not in use. The curve upwards, ends down, blade up, in the manner it was worn, with the omote side showing (tsuka or handle pointing left).

The parts of the swords:
Katanas scabbards are called a saya, the handguard or rounded hilt is the tsuba, Other aspects of the koshirae(mountings), such as the menuki (decorative grip swells), habaki (blade collar and scabbard wedge), fuchi and kashira (handle collar and cap), kozuka (small utility knife handle), kogai (decorative skewer-like implement), saya lacquer, and tsuka-ito (professional handle wrap). Though early examples emphasised simple blades and iron tsuba, the gentrification of the swords created the fashion for more elaborate workmanship on the fittings and by the Edo period they were encrusted with detailed metalwork and designs that are difficult to duplicate today and we dedicate our work to do for you.

Katana Culture:

There are elaborate methods for cleaning, storing, sharpening, and making all of parts of the katana and other sub-swords, it became a sort of ritual as did many of their arts.
There are very intricate rituals to adhere to to prevent misinterpreting intentions. The positioning of sword for an easy draw implied suspicion or aggression and samurai were wary and always on alert. For example, a samurai entering someones house might consider how to place his sheathed sword as he knelt, whether he placed it on his right or left side, and whether the blade was placed curving away or towards him. This  was an important point of etiquette. Stepping out this formal movement could spell death and movements were always measured and methodic.

The sword was considered the soul of the samurai it embodied this ethics and his ability to kill and defend his liege lord. In the later part of Japanese history, from the 16th century on, only samurai were allowed to carry swords. By the beginning of Edo period and solidification of the Samurai class, a peasant farmer or merchant were prohibited carrying swords and could be legally killed by a samurai if they were caught carrying one. 
Much of early Japanese culture revolved around the sword, samurai shunned jewellery or other items that were of little value, they paid for craftsmanship used on their swords, the blade itself the most important, embellishment usually secondary, it was part of their identity. Some swords had a soul or were possessed, some blades were gentle and others cried for blood.   If somebody be forced to sell their swords they were soulless” in their own eyes and those of other a samurai.




Sword Terms


 Nakago: Tang of blade

 Mune-Machi: Notch in the back of a blade to stop the habaki.

 Ha-Machi: Edge notch where blade joins tang

 Mekugi-Aan: Tang Hole

 Mei: Signature

 Yasuri-Mei: File marks on tang


Nakago: Tang of blade

Mune-Machi: Notch in the back of a blade to stop the habaki.

Ha-Machi: Edge notch where blade joins tang

Mekugi-Aan: Tang Hole

Mei: Signature

Yasuri-Mei: File marks on tang

Nagasa: Blade (from tip of kissaki to munemachi)

Kissaki: The point of a blade

Boshi: Shape of temper line at the kissaki (point)

Yokote: Line between ji and kissaki

Ji/Hiraji: sword surface between the shinogi and the hamon

Hamon: Temper pattern along blade edge

Shinogi: Ridges on each side of a blade

Shinogi-Ji: Sword flat between the mune and shinogi

Mune: Back ridge of sword blade

Mono-Uchi: Portion of blade 4 or 5 inches below the point. Striking point

Ha: Cutting edge of a sword

Sori: Curve

Hi/Bohi: Groove

Koshirae: Sword mountings including Saya, tsuka and Toso/Tosogu.

Toso/Tosogu: Sword-furniture, I.E.: Fittings, Fuchi-Kashira; Habaki, Seppa, Menuki and Tsuba

Tsuba: Sword guard

Fuchi-Kashira: set of hilt collar (fuchi) and butt cap (kashira).

Menuki: Ornaments under handle wrapping to improve grip

Habaki: Collar around blade above the tang to fit the blade securely into scabbard

Seppa: Washers to fill out space provided for tsuba on blade

Tsuka: Sword handle.

Ito/Tsuka ito: Braid for wrapping handle

Tsuka-maki: art of wrapping the handle of a sword.

Mekugi: Bamboo peg or metal rivet holding the handle on a sword

Same/Same-kawa: Patch of skin from belly of giant ray, used on sword handles and sometimes on scabbards

Saya: Scabbard of sword.

Sageo: Cord or braid attached to kurikata on side of scabbard

Koiguchi: The mouth of the scabbard or its fitting

Kurikata: Scabbard (saya) fitting for attaching the sageo

Kojiri: Bottom end fitting on scabbard

Shito-Dome: Small collars in the kurikata and/or kashira


Referenced page fromhttp://www.samuraisword.com/glossary/index.htm

Learn More Glossary about Japanese sword blade, please click here

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