Menuki – Katana Tsuka Ornaments

Menuki refers to the ornamentation found on the tsuka. This is the part under the tsuka-ito. Originally this part was used to hide the Mekugi. This ornamental part is found on Katana and Wakizashi handle wrap. This fits the palm so that it would be easier to grip the sword. There are different kinds of Katana Menuki and some of these are horse with rider and shape of a goose with a bamboo. There are museum quality reproductions made of solid silver and sometimes decorated with 24K gold. Some are combinations of both. This defines the character of the sword so that this can identify whose owner the sword belongs. However, this part can only be replaced when the tsuka or sword handle is re-wrapped.

Different Kinds of Katana Menuki

• Boat Warrior /Funamusha. This is a historical kind of Katana Menuki with a silver base. This is a people theme kind of Menuki
• Crane/Tsuru. This is nicely design with 24K gold. Some designs have double cranes
• Dragon/Ryu. This is popular during the Momoyama period. This uses a classic solid gold hairyu type Goto dragons
• Dragon Wrapped Sword/Kenmaki Ryu. This is usually popular during the Japanese 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 features the seven lucky gods of 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 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. This is considered as good luck for the owner
• Orange Fruit/MIkan. This looks Ikebana arrangement of fruits on branches
• Peonies/Botan. This 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 boat in foaming waves and other similar designs with the warrior included in the theme
• Water Plants/Mizukusa. This 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 in the Katana Menuki

Rare Katana Menuki

Some of these are the hardest Menuki to find:

• Kirin. These are mythical creatures or animals. Some of which includes a cow and dragon with a horse body and tail of a shi-shi. This is available only in smaller blades like tanto and wakizashi
• 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
• Signs of the Zodiac