Japanese swords have become famous due to the samurai warriors that weld them, they were known as the officer caste and military nobility of the medieval and early-conventional period of Japan and were considered as prominent figures in history; but aside from these warriors, their samurai swords were also highly notable aspects of the countrys warring period, which is why these pieces are still very much favored even in this modern day and age.
In the past, the Japanese sword became more than just a very effective tool of war which was basically created for this specific purpose. The weapon has acquired the legendary status because of its role during the warring period of Japan; and even in this day and age, the imagination of people fires up especially when the Japanese swords appear in shows, films, plays, and anime (the term for computer or hand-drawn animation). Yet aside from these enthusiasts, there are also some individuals who prefer utilizing the weapon themselves so they purchase their own nihonto and train in wielding the sword.
The Samurai Swords
The nihonto is one of the most classic weapons of all time and was created from 250 AD to 538 AD during the Kofun period; the very first swords featured straight, sharpened blades yet were eventually replaced by the curved pieces during the Heian period. As time passed, the Japanese swords that were created by smiths from that period began to evolve and develop into much better pieces; eventually, they were able to produce some of the most notable and highly efficient weapons that the Samurai warriors commonly used on the battlefield. These include the katana, wakizashi, tachi, nagamaki, and the tanto.
During the warring history of Japan, the katana sword was considered as the classic Japanese sword wielded by the warriors of that time. It was represented by its one of a kind appearance featuring a curved, single-edged blade together with either a square or roundish-shaped tsuba. Additionally, these samurai swords also displayed an extended tsuka that easily allowed the wielder to grip using two hands, helping them execute powerful blows during battles.
The usual length of this type of weapon measures about sixty centimeters or more, and since it is often compared to and confused with the tachi, the Katana features other characteristics to distinguish it from the other. For one to determine which Japanese swords are being used, he or she should check if the piece is signed; the mei should be on the weapons nakago. Basically, the mei should be carved onto the tangs side which commonly faces out when the weapon is carried around. Here are the other differences between the katana and the tachi:
- Both of the weapons are single-edged but feature opposite faces; the katana has its cutting edge facing up while the tachi has it facing down.
- The katana was produced specifically for close-range combat whereas the tachi was created mainly for combat while on horseback.
- The curve of a katana is not as deep as the curve of the tachi.
- The tachi is known as the katanas predecessor.
This is another one of the most commonly wielded Japanese swords that the samurais have used in the past; the Wakizashi features a blade that measures around thirty to sixty centimeters in length and there are actually two types that the samurai could choose from: one is the O-wakizashi which features a blade length that is close to that of the katana, while the shorter one that is close to the size of a tanto is called the Ko-wakizashi.
These swords were generally utilized as a backup weapon during battle; plus, these were also used for decapitating captured members from the opposing army. There were times when the wakizashi were also utilized to commit the ritualistic process of suicide called the Seppuku, so after learning about this, foreigners began calling the weapon the Honor Blade.
The tachi sword is a Japanese sword that is favored by numerous warriors which were forged before the Koto period in 1596; these were the samurai swords that were created before the katana. The tachi swords were carried around having the cutting edge facing downward which is basically the opposite of how the katana was worn. A classic tachi would have a blade that measures around seventy to eighty centimeters in length. Furthermore, the Tachi sword is more curved with a little point area, unlike the katana.
The word nagamaki means long wrapping and it is a Japanese sword with an exceptionally long tsuka. It was commonly utilized by the samurai warriors of feudal Japan, and it had a blade that measured around 1.5 – 2 feet or more. The length of its tsuka almost equaled the length of its blade which gave this Japanese sword its popularity among the people. Its blade commonly was single-edged and it somehow resembled the naginatas yet the main difference of these is the process of how the blades were mounted on a special tsuka. This shaft of the nagamaki was not made out of simple wood and was created more similarly to that of the katana. The weapon gets its name from the tradition of handle wrapping its tsuka since this area of the sword is covered with silk or leather cords in a beautiful criss-cross fashion. It is said that the nagamaki has evolved and developed from the nodachi sword that was characterized in numerous literature and photo sources during the fourteenth century.
Tanto means short blade, and it is also another traditionally created Japanese sword that was carried by the warriors of feudal Japan. The weapon dates all the way back to the Heian era when it was primarily utilized as a weapon; however, its design eventually developed throughout the years to become a more ornate piece. These were commonly utilized to practice the art of Tantojutsu, and the term tanto has experienced a resurgence in the Western part of the world. It was considered then as a point-style contemporary tactical knife and was mainly designed for stabbing or piercing.