Menuki – Katana Tsuka Ornaments

Menuki refers to the ornaments found on the tsuka. This is the part under the tsuka-ito. Originally this part was used to hide the Mekugi pegs.

The Menuki can be found on traditional Katana and Wakizashi handle wraps. it fits the palm so that it would be easier to grip the sword. There are different kinds of Katana Menuki and some of these feature horses, lions, dragons and other animals.

There are museum-quality reproductions made of solid silver and sometimes decorated with 24K gold. Some are combinations of both.

This is one of the parts that define the character of the sword so that it can identify with the owner the sword belongs to, this part can only be replaced when the tsuka or sword handle is re-wrapped.

Different Types

We have a wide collection of Menuki to select from, most are made of copper and metal alloy as well as brass, along with the history there were many different Menuki examples, some of the models can be described as follows:

  • Boat Warrior /Funamusha. This is a historical kind of Katana Menuki with a silver base.
  • Crane/Tsuru. This is nicely designed with 24K gold. Some designs have double cranes
  • Dragon/Ryu. This was popular during the Momoyama period. it uses a classic solid gold hairyu type Goto dragons
  • Dragon Wrapped Sword/Kenmaki Ryu. This was popular during the Edo period where the menuki is wrapped on a gold Ken sword
  • Dragonfly/ Tonbou. Excellent large dragonfly theme in Yamagane and gold. These are dainty little flattened dragonflies
  • God of Fortune/Dakikoku. This one features the seven lucky gods of fortune. This said to guarantee good luck
  • Hollyhock . Often paired with heron. This design was used on Hanwei Tokugawa on Tanto
  • Horse/Uma. Some designs depict horse with a harness. These are in gold zogan and shakudo
  • Laughing Buddha/Hotei. This features the Chinese laughing Buddha
  • Lily/Yuri. As the name implies it looks like a flower stalk
  • Lion-Dog/Shishi. This looks like the design of a temple lion dog with 24K gold
  • Monkey/Saru. Considered as good luck for the owner
  • Orange Fruit/MIkan. Looks like Ikebana arrangement of fruits on branches
  • Peonies/Botan. Was popular during the Japanese Edo period until the Meiji era and even to the mid-late 19th century
  • Warrior/Musha. Some depict warriors with the boat in foaming waves and other similar designs with the warrior included in the theme
  • Water Plants/Mizukusa. Was popular during the late Edo period
  • Wild Boar/ Inoshishi. Rare Edo period
  • Yoshitsune and Benkei/Ushiwaka. This is a 19th-century sword that depicts the Young Yoshitsune.


Rare Katana Menuki

Some of these are the hardest Menuki to find:

  • Kirin. These are mythical creatures or animals. Some of which include a cow and dragon with a horse body and tail of a shi-shi.
  • Mount Fuji. This is one of the oldest and most popular Menuki
  • Golden Pagoda. Sometimes depicts both the pagoda and Mount Fuji
  • Tori. This shows the Tori gate and polished with bright silver
  • Deity with flowers and branches
  • Double lightning bolt
  • Gokosho or Sanskrit Vajra

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