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The Definitive Guide to Samurai Swords

There is something about Samurai Swords that is universally appealing. Samurai swords are rich in history. They are a beauty to behold. It is like seeing beauty interpreted through a blade. There is nothing like holding a Japanese sword for the very first time. A majority of Japanese swords in existence today are from a period long gone. Samurai Swords are as old as several hundreds of years however, its appeal never wanes. observing a Katana being forged by master swordsman is truly a marvelous thing to behold. Books have been filled about Japanese swords and their smiths. In Japan, a sword is not just a sword it is a literal interpretation of the sword smith’s artistic side brought into life. It is possible of building a complete story behind each of those samurai swords. samurai swords are what keeps those who love anything Japanese close to heart. It is like a bridge that stretches from Japan into the hands of whoever owns any kind of samurai swords.

Little Known Facts about Samurai Swords

A sword reminds people that life is not forever and as such each moment should be treasured. A sword makes people aware that mortality exists and to live each day as it counts. A good sword collection will actually outlive its owner. Therefore since these swords are bound to be passed on to the next generation it would be a good idea to choose a sword or several ones that will last. A sword reminds people that life can be simple and yet enjoyable. There is no need for batteries or electricity to use a sword. Many people think that a sword is created by just one swordsmith but, this is not true. A team of professionals build each blade with accuracy. Each of these craftsman specializes in a certain area which means they give their all when it is time for the sword to pass through their hands. Each sword needs the master swordsmith and his apprentices which includes: polisher and makers for these parts: Habaki, Tsuba, Seppas, Fuchi, Kashira, Menuki, Tsuka and Saya. That is what you call teamwork the Japanese way.

Katana and Wakizashi Daisho

During feudal Japan to know that the wearer is a Samurai the first official sign would be his Katana sword. This was worn together as a pair of swords or daisho. One of the traditionally made Japanese swords or Nihonto worn by the Samurai class in feudal Japan would be his Wakizashi sword. This Japanese term for this blade literally means side inserted sword. This Wakizashi blade tends to be from 30 to 60 centimeters or from between 12 to 24 inches. A Wakizashi is closer to a Katana in terms of length. To simply put, a Katana is the big or long sword and the shorter sword which is sometimes referred to as Companion sword is the Wakizashi. The difference between this two is that Katana and Wakizashi can be forged in a different way. These can also have different cross section. A Wakizashi is used primarily for close quarters fighting to behead an opponent. This weapon was used to commit seppuku or ritual suicide. Wakizashi is suitable for indoor fighting. It was allowed to be carried by the Chonin class that includes merchants for protection when travelling due to the risk of encountering bandits. Wakizashi are worn on the left side secured to the waist using a sash or Uwa-obi or himo.

Wakizashi For Sale



One of the traditionally made Japanese short swords includes Tanto knife. These were carried by Samurais, commoners did not generally wear Tanto. Tanto was worn as the Shoto in place of Wakizashi as a daisho on the battlefield. Before the Wakizashi and Tanto combnination, Samurais carried a Tachi and Tanto. It was believed that Wakizashi was more popular than the Tanto because the Wakizashi is well-suited for indoor fighting than the Tanto. This short blade can trace its origin during the Heian period. Because this blade was aesthetically pleasing Hira and Uchi-Sori Tanto became the more popular style. Tanto was mainly used as a weapon but, it has manage to evolve to include ornate designs engraved into it. Tanto was designed for use as a stabbing weapon however, the Tanto knife can be used for slashing as well.Some versions has thick cross sections for armour piercing duty and referred to as Yoroi Toshi. This is used for Tantojutsu which is a traditional martial arts. In form it resembles a dagger. This must be the reason why it has find its way into modern tactical knives in the West especially in the 1980s.


A Japanese sword used for close combat battle. Nagamaki sword is a Japanese sword that has a larger and heavier blade than the Katana. The Nagamaki is a long sword with a 2 to 4 foot blade with a handle either 1.5 to 3 feet long.Nagamaki has a singled edged blade that is sharpened along the back edge for reduce weight. Its handle is long, but also it’s blade hence being referred to as sword. The Nagamaki handle looks more like a Katana handle but it’s longer which allow more distance from the enemy when fighting with this samurai sword. The handle of this blade was wrapped with cords in criss-crossed manner like those in a Katana. Nagamaki is sometimes referred to as a variation of a long Samurai sword. The Nagamaki allows the user to extend his range of reach because of its length. This was inspired and is an adaptation of farm implements and other tools. This was used during the Kamakura, Nanbokucho and early Muromachi periods. It reached its peak of usage during the Muromachi period though. The Nagamaki was held with two hands in a fixed position where the right hand is closest to the blade.


Nodachi sword is categorize under large and great swords of Japan. Nodachi is a traditionally made Japanese field sword. This was used by the Samurai class of feudal Japan. The closest equivalent of this sword is its Chinese cousin, the Miao Dao. In the West, a good equivalent would be the Spanish Espada Bastarda or Scottish Claymore. This type of sword predates the Katana. There is no exact size for this sword however, its blade length is minimum of 3 shaku or 35.79 inches (90.91 centimeters). Because of its complicated heat treatment it was a feat to produce a sword like this.Longer blades are expensive because the entire blade need to be kept to a homogenous temperature. The whole blade needs to be heated. The quenching process also needs a special quenching medium since this must be big enough to accommodate this long blade. Otherwise, uneven quenching can result to a warp blade. Nodachi was used as a ceremonial object and infantry sword. This was used as a votive offering for Japanese patron gods. Some of these swords were used during prayer before a war takes place. Legendary swords from mythology was said to look somewhat like this sword. It reached its peak during the Edo period.

Ninja Swords

Ninjas used specific kinds of swords. Ninja used shorter swords than those used by Samurais. These are short and straight as opposed to those used by Samurais. This is for ease of use in narrow spaces like inside a room. To know the kind of ninja swords used it must be kept in mind that Ninjas hide their identities, they are the silent assassin, hiding in the shadows until the tine to attack. a Ninja want to keep everything that they do in a cloak of mystery. It was during the Edo period when Ninjas were reduce to lower Samurais. The Ninjato purpose was for stabbing and slaying enemies. the ninja was using many different kind of weapons and accessories, some of them are discussed in the website, Our Ninjato offered for sale is about the same length as a Katana, although you can ask for a Wakizashi Ninjato when ordering a wakizashi.


The Ninjato or Shinobigatana was the preferred weapon for the Shinobi of feudal Japan. The best way to describe this sword is that it is a short sword with a straight blade similar to a Shikomizue. Usually it had a square guard. Its unique shape can be credited to the efforts made by Ninjas in forging their own blades from slabs of steel or iron. It was easier to form straight blades from these slabs instead of curved blades. Some sword experts state that the reason why this was shaped as such is because the Ninjas were copying the sword that their patron Buddhist deities were carrying. The Ninjato sword was said to be the legendary sword used by Ninjas. Since there was no history of this weapon found earlier it was said that it was only during the 20th century onwards when this sword was chronicled. It was in 1964 when the Iga Ryu Ninja Museum house a replica of Ninjato. It was also during this period when the movie series Shinobi no Mono was released in Japanese theatres.

Katana Blade – Sword of Heaven

Katana blades were used in both ancient and feudal Japan. The Katana is characterized by its curved and slender single edged blade. This has a circular or square guard with a long grip to accommodate two hands. It was during the Kamakura period when Katana was used for the very first time. Lower ranking warriors were given a different style of sword which is cheaper than other swords. The change in how close combat warfare was conducted brought about the popularity of the Katana blade. The Katana was paired with a shorter sword the Wakizashi. Each of the parts of the blade have its functions. It will be discuss in the next paragraph.

The Kissaki is the tip or point area found on a Japanese sword. This Katana blade part is separated from the rest of the blade with a clear visible line referred to as Yokote.The amount of curvature on the cutting edge of the Kissaki is referred to as Fukura. This can either be Tsuku which is full and round or Kareru which was straight or nearly straight. When one looks at the Katana blade, it is the fan shape area at the tip of the blade. The size of the Kissaki varies depending on what period the blade was produce. Like other kinds of blade this was reshaped in later periods. One way of knowing if the shape was change from its original shape is by comparing the width of the hamon around the yokote and boshi. This is a result of polishing from the mune side. Kissaki can be divided into those that has ornamental and others that has geometric shaped yokote. It is said that a shrewd and wise swordsman must know how to control his weapon’s Kissaki so that he can effectively strike his enemy. He will be able to avoid getting struck as well if he perfects the art of control.
Shinogi is a Katana part describe as a ridge on the blade that runs from the Yokote to the end of the Nakago. When looking at an antique Samurai sword It is the height and width of this Katana part that gives others an idea when this blade was made. There may be instances that even the school and smith who made the blade can be revealed by simply looking at these measurements. This ridge line is important because this lends an air of authenticity and accuracy of choosing a blade relevant to the Ryu to which the practitioner belongs.The term high Shinogi is given to a Shinogi that has a substantial difference in height between Shinogi and the Sane. Blades with thin Kasane has a high appearing Shinogi. The presence of blood groove or HI or fuller allows the blood to freely flow from cuts made by the opponent’s sword. This reduces the sucking sound which explains the addition of this feature on commando knives used during World War II although some people dispute this fact. They said that the real reason for adding HI was that because this makes the sword stronger and adds an air of lightness to it. This helps the sword owner to weld the sword effortlessly. This makes more sense since grooves like these can lessen the weight of the sword and improve its structural integrity.

Mune when defined is simply the back edge of the Katana blade. This is simply referred to as back or collar notch. It is also referred to sometimes as Munemachi, the measurement of length of the blade from this notch at the back to the very tip or Kissaki of the blade. Mune according to some Japanese sword enthusiasts is the best part of the blade to blocking since it is not susceptible to chipping and cracking in edge to edge contact unlike using the HA. Hada is the grain pattern found on Japanese swords. These are seen as folded lines or sometimes referred to as weld lines. These lines varies depending on the way the blade was folded. There are different small and large variations of the Hada. Some are stretched and some have mixed variations. Generally, swords are created with the Hada running down the blade similar to that of a grain of wood. Beginners would find it hard to identify this part when it is obscured by a poorly polished blade or a blade that has stain and rust. Hijiki Hada are dark sea weed like shape patterns found on the blade’s surface.

The term given to the tempered cutting edge of the sword is simply HA. This side lies opposite to the Mune. It is also known as Hasaki or Yaiba. When the sword is place on display the HA must be edge up. Some people will position the swords so that the handle is on the left. Chips on this part may not be fatal and in some cases may be so. This will depend on how far this fatal flaw has reached the hamon. This shall be considered a fatal flaw if the chips extends way past the hamon.The Japanese translation for Hamon is blade pattern. The Hamon is the transition made from harder to softer steel at the back of the sword. This is the objective of this transition process. The way the blade appears is thrown in a purely a side effect of it. Swordsmiths take advantage of this “side effect” to produce a specific temper line to leave a school signature. The Hamon can be a wavy line on the cutting edge of the Katana. Most of time a special form of clay is used to achieved this effect. Sometimes one can see a cloudy effect this is a result of nie crystals forming in the metal that increases the hardness of the steel.

Yokote for beginners is a real bevel. It is both quite sharp and steep. Yotoke marks the change in geometry of the blade towards the tip. Most mass produce Katana does not have Yokote. A sword without Yokote shows the effect of using a different angle polishing the sword. Some sword connoisseurs say that it’s ugly to look at.A blade must be forged to be able to apply a real Yokote. Some people view Yokote as the dividing line between the Kissaki and HA. Boshi is the Hamon that runs along the Kissaki of the blade. The top of the Boshi resembles that of a candle flame. Boshi is round in shape and referred to as tempered area or point. In terms of flaws, it is considered a fatal flaw if the Kissaki is broken past its Boshi. However, if the break does not extend towards the Boshi, a good polisher can remedy this by reshaping the Kissaki.

Katana Fittings

Tsuba (Hand Guard)

Tsuba comes in many different shapes and style, normally either round or square. Its primary function is to act as guard at the end of the grip. Tsuba contributes to the balance of the samurai swords while at the same time protects the hand. Tsuba is more for sword function that being a decorative fitting for the Samurai swords. The Tsuba started to become a part of the sword ornament during the peaceful Edo period. There are even versions that use gold. This is thought to be impractical and expensive.

Habaki (Blade Collar)

Habaki refers to a wedge shaped metal collar that keeps the sword from falling out of its Saya. Habaki encircles the base of the samurai sword blade. This fitting locks the tsuba or guard in place while it keeps the weapon as mentioned in its Saya or scabbard. The sword owner simply grasps the scabbard from the top and presses the guard with the thumb to allow the blade just enough space to unwedge the Habaki from inside of the scabbard. This frees the blade and allows this to be drawn quicker.

Seppa (Spacers)

Seppa are the spacers found on each side of the Tsuba. they are designed to keep the fitting tight. Seppa can be easily replaced with a new one. It can be said that the choice of using a plain or ornate Seppa falls on the preference of the sword owner. If the sword in question is to be place on display it would be a good idea to choose an ornate Seppa to go with it.

Fuchi (Hilt Collar)

Fuchi and Kasira are the set of hilt collar and buttcap. Some swords comes with a Kojiri with an end cap used on the scabbard. Different designs can be ordered for the Fuchi. This can be simple or something extravagant. we offer a large selection of customized Fuchi. This can be made of Metal, Brass Iron or Copper.

Kashira (Buttcup)

Kashira is the butt cap or pommel found at the end of the Tsuka. Kashira is part of fittings that will keep the Japanese sword together. The cord winding of the hilt is what holds the Kashira and Menuki in place. It takes parts to make an amazing Samurai sword. beautiful collection of traditionally made Kashira can be ordered when you order custom samurai swords. This is one of the biggest advantage when ordering a customized sword where the smallest and delicate details are perfected per your desire.

Menuki (Tsuka Ornaments)

Menuki are ornaments found on the Tsuka. This was used originally with the intention of hiding the Mekugi. Menuki fits the palm for the purpose of allowing the user to grip the sword without seeing it slide out from his hands. There was a time when Menuki was viewed as a practical decoration cover for pins that hold the blades in. Some refer to these as Samurai swords jewellery. However, this fitting has proven its usefulness. It is more than just a fancy décor for a Japanese sword. Menuki gives sword users a better control of their sword. Thinner versions does not produce palm swells as they are referred to. This must be kept in mind when ordering for a customized sword.

Samurai Swords Handle Parts

Tsuka (Handle)

The Tsuka is the handle or hilt of a Japanese sword. Tsuka is wrapped in Samegawa. The art of wrapping this sword handle is referred to as Tsuka-maki. Tsuka-Ito refers to the use of traditional silk to wrap the Tsuka however, in today’s world cotton, Rayon and leather is acceptable in replacing the more expensive silk. However, We offer large selection of ray skin samegawa colors, and Tsuka Ito wraps such as Cotton, Rayon (Synthetic Silk) or Leather.

Mekugi Pegs

Mekugi are the pegs that secure the Tsuka to the Nakago of the Samurai sword. The way to attach the Mekugi to the Tsuka and Nakago would be to use Mekugi-ana or holes found on these two parts of the sword. Suffice to say that Mekugi plays an important role in holding the Samurai swords together. Mekugi also acts as shock absorber. For this reasons choosing a sturdy material for Mekugi is of vital importance. There are actually better grade of bamboo that will get the job done since it is both sturdy and flexible.

Ito (Handle Wrap)

Ito is the cord wrap used on the handles of Japanese swords. The purpose of using Ito is both for aesthetic and functional purpose. There are various colours to choose from to suit any potential sword owner taste. However, the role of Ito is to reinforce the Tsuka to prevent it from failing.Materials used can be any of the following: Silk, leather, cotton and Rayon.Ito is secured with the use of a strong tape on the HA and Mune side of the sword. A strong tape will hold the Ito in place without clamps appearing.

Ray Skin Samegawa

Samegawa or Same-Kawa refers to the same thing. In Japanese Same-Kawa means shark skin. This is the ray or shark skin wrapping of the Tsuka or sword handle. The samegawa on our custom samurai swords are made from real rayskin and comes in different colors you can choose from.

Katana Scabbard


Saya means Japanese scabbard. This can be for a sword or knife. This is usually made of lightweight wood with a coat of lacquer on its exterior. The Saya has a wooden knob or Kurigata on one side attached to a braided cord or Sageo. Saya prevents unsheathing which explains why it is tight fitting. We offer a large selection of Saya for your samurai swords, some are made from lacquer wood, wood or Ray skin. There may come a time that Saya will become loose. It is a must to fix this otherwise it can cause accidents and cuts. Some use what they call Saya shimming which is the practice of affixing a thin piece of wood into the Saya on each of its sides to fill up extra spaces. This is just a temporary solution. you can order from us extra Saya when ordering the sword.


Shitodome is a small Japanese sword fitting found in sword handles. The materials that can be used in making Shitodome can be any of the following: gold plate, polished silver or buffalo horn. Shitodome can only be found on better quality swords. This means there is none for cheap Japanese swords. Since Shitodome are designed to fit into a small opening installing must be carefully made.


Kurikata is a knob found in the scabbard of Japanese swords. This can be made of metal although black steel can be use or sterling silver. However, most of the Kurikata are made from water buffalo horn.


Sageo is the cord used to tie the Saya to the Japanese belt or Obi when the sword is worn. Sageo can be made of silk, cotton and leather. This hanging cord passes through the hole in the Kurigata of the Saya. There are actually several methods of tying the Sageo on the Saya for the purpose of displaying the sword. In some schools of Iaido, Sageo is tied to the Hakama as students practice their sword fight.


Kojiri is the end of the Saya that has the protective fitting. This is traditionally made of buffalo horn however, other materials like metal or black coloured steel can be used as well. Traditionally made Kojiri have oval shape. This is best fitted during Saya construction so that it will fit the sword perfectly.


Koiguchi refers to the mouth of the Saya and its fittings. This is traditionally made of buffalo horn. This can be made using copper band. This type of band strengthens the Saya. The Saya opening should be adapted to the Habaki and this is where the carp muzzle or Koiguchi enters the picture.

Sword Steel Type

Carbon Steel Swords

Real functional swords are made of carbon steel, Most of stainless steel swords are brittle and cannot withstand test cutting as swords made of carbon steel. Some of the most commonly used carbon steel content for swords are:

1045 Steel, 1055 Steel, 1060 Steel, 1095 Steel, T10 Steel

1045 is composed of medium carbon. This steel is the most low level carbon sword, it is relatively easy to make, and mostly is machine made. 1055 Steel is a very popular choice when it comes to Iaito blade that is not sharp and intended for practice of kata.

As suggested by the number, a 1055 carbon steel has 0.55% of carbon content, a 1060 carbon steel has 0.60% carbon content, and a 1095 carbon steel has 0.95% carbon content.
As carbon content increased it becomes less ductile and more difficult to weld, the carbon then is heat treated to make it more ductile and softer for fabrication.
When there is higher carbon, the alloy can be hardened to increase impact resistance, strength and wear. The reason for heat treating the carbon steel is to change the properties of the steel, usually heat treating effects the ductility, impact resistance, hardness and yield strength.

1060 Carbon Steel

1060 Carbon Steel is our most basic entry level of high carbon steel. The high carbon in the 1060 Steel makes it durable, but it is not high enough to compromise its pliability. Actually, the swords made of 1060 Carbon Steel keep their edges sharp, are suitable for soft objects and medium targets. It is the favorite steel material of famous swords companies.

1095 Carbon Steel

1095 Carbon steel is carbon steel that contains %0.95 of Carbon. The 1095 Steel carbon percentage results in a very hard steel. Katana made of this steel is more suitable than the 1060. Clay tempering. (Differentially hardening) results in hardening the edge and keeping the spine softer, this method increases the blade edge durability, its reflected in a more flexible blade and enhances the resistance of the sword to corrosion.

T10 Tool Steel

T10 Steel has 1% carbon content and referred to as High Speed Steel, it is hard and durable, and the blade edge retain its sharpness overtime, The maximum of resistance and toughness is obtained when properly clay tempered. It is one of the favorite steel choices among sword collectors.

Spring Steel Katana

5160 Steel is spring steel which is a kind of steel used in manufacturing springs. This contains low alloy, medium carbon steel or high carbon steel. This shall depend on the choice of the one ordering the sword. 9260 Spring Steel is tempered, resilient and tough than cold steels like 1050 Steel. 9260 steel is durable. Materials like silicon is used to create this type of blade. There are only two types of alloy steels that are considered the best alloy for swords and 9260 is included in the list. The 9260 spring steel has .60% carbon content. This type of steel for Katana. can be compared to 1060 carbon steel that offers hardness and durability. however also a lot of flexibility.

Spring Steel Katana are characterized by an excellent durability: they exhibit an uncommon resistance to bending and mistaken strikes, the 9260 spring steel swords are tempered, resilient and tough yet very flexible.

Clay Tempering (Differential Hardening)

Clay tempered blades are swords that have a real hamon, they have soft spine and hardened edge, Our clay tempered swords HRC level of the edge is around 62. When a sword is clay tempered the edge is hardened so it will retain a sharp edge while the spine is left softer so it will bend but not break when hitting heavy targets. A Clay tempered blade is important for making a sword that can withstand extensive tameshigiri.

Tamahagne Steel Katana

Tamahagane is a steel that follows the traditional way of making steel the Japanese way. The word tama means round and precious. It is often compared to that of a gem. Hagane simply means steel. This explains why this material is used in producing not just swords alone but, knives and other kinds of tools as well. A good tamahagane contains 1 percent of carbon. This percentage must never go more than 1.5 percent to create the ideal steel for swords.This is made of iron sand or Satetsu. It takes from 36 to 72 hours just to make Tamahagane steel. This shall depend on how many people are working on it and how much of the metal is used. Iron sand is added slowly every 10 minutes while the mixture is frequently turned over. After this steel has been produce the clay tub is broken and the steel produce is removed. The metal block found on the edges are said to be stronger because this is where the oxidation process takes place.

Folded vs Not Folded

You probably heard about Damascus steel and Japanese folded steel Katana, however try not to confuse between the two. the process of Nihonto in ancient Japan involved folding the steel to get rid of impurities, due to lack of good quality iron.
Today the steel is pure and, folding is done to increase the beauty of the sword and add a grain (Hada) to the steel, which creates beautiful patterns on the blade, however with today modern steel, it does not improve the hardness of the blade, or the performance of the sword. Moreover, if folding is not done properly, this can cause failure between the layers of the blade, and actually decrease the blade performance.

Samurai swords gives a sense of power to the owner. However, as a famous saying goes, “with great power comes greater responsibility”. If there is one thing to be learned from Samurai ethics it would be the importance of being responsible for one’s actions.It can be said that these traditionally made Japanese swords symbolizes the strength and beauty of the Japanese spirit. Be safe and let the Samurai spirit live on.