Japanese Nihonto swords have been considered as one of the most popular and ideal weapons that have been used in warfare; it was also one of the weapons that acquired a famed status since the nihonto played an important role during the warring period of Japan. And even as time passed, the Japanese sword is still one of the most popular weapons even during the modern times.
One of the most amazing and sought after nihonto of all time is the katana sword; it has been the most favored battle weapon of the samurais and today, a lot of movies, shows, stage plays, and even books feature characters who wield this deadly bladed weapon. Yet for those who are more interested in the arts and the way of the sword, as well as how to successfully utilize these Japanese swords, the piece turns into something that is more than just a cool weapon and becomes a highly notable tool that displays power, excellence, and honor.
There is a formal and proper process of learning how to adequately wield a Japanese sword, and the whole series of discovery becomes a way for one to learn the principles of the sword while simultaneously gaining knowledge about honor, discipline, introspection, and focus. This is how the nihonto acquired its legendary status since it has also become a big part of the warriors spirit. Learning about the way of the sword has also led numerous practitioners to successfully and generously contribute to society by offering outstanding art, calligraphy, as well as philosophies.
Description and Production of the Nihonto
When it comes to the production of Japanese swords, these are categorized into different time periods:
- The Jokoto the ancient swords that were present around 900 AD
- Koto old swords that have appeared in the years 900 to 1596
- Shinto newer swords that were developed in the years 1596 to 1780
- Shinshinto also newer swords that were present in the years 1781 to 1876
- Gendaito the contemporary swords from the years 1876 to 1945
- The Shinakuto the newly made swords that were produced in the year 1953 until the present.
During the modern times, one of the most popular and notable type of Japanese sword is the Shinogi Zukuri it is a curved longsword that has a single edge and is usually carried by the samurais from the fifteenth century, onwards. There are also other types of Japanese blades and these include the following:
- The ken or the tsurugi which is known as a double-edged sword
- Odachi and the tachi which are both known as the more classic style of single-edged swords
- The wakizashi, which is medium-sized sword.
- Tanto which is a much smaller sword that features the size of a knife.
The yari and the naginata are known to be polearms but are still considered as swords. The nihonto are still around today and these appear as antique and contemporary forged nihonto for sale that one can purchase to include in their growing collection of classic sword pieces. Hundreds of swordsmiths continue to create modern and authentic-styled nihonto and a lot of these can be seen in museums, exhibits, and in annual competitions that are hosted by the AJSA (All Japan Swordsmith Association).
Based on various records, the nihonto was one of the classically-made swords that the Japanese utilized during the feudal and warring period in Japan. The weapon is characterized by its unique and distinct appearance that exhibits a single-edged and arched blade that can have a circular or square-shaped tsuba; additionally, the sword also has an extended tsuka that can readily accommodate two hands when wielding.
The Japanese swords have always been associated with the samurai warriors and during the warring period, other individuals were not allowed to utilize the sword since it was deadly and only meant for individuals who were actually skilled in wielding the weapon. The Katana is considered as a weapon that greatly displays the evolution and development of classic creativity wherein it first began as a simple great sword which eventually evolved into a more agile, lighter, and efficient blade.
Other Types of Samurai Swords
The nihonto was not the only favored weapon among warriors who engaged in battle since the samurai who lived during the medieval period wielded different types of blades which included the tachi, the nodachi, wakizashi, the chokuto, and a few others. There were also other types of bladed weapons that were produced the same way as the katana and all of these were utilized for battle; the said weapons included the tanto, the ken, yari, and naginata.
The New Nihonto
During the times of peace, a lot of swordsmiths continued creating artistic and refined nihonto; and right at the beginning of the Momoyama era saw the re-appearance of high-quality swords. As the techniques and processes have disappeared during the earlier warring period, the blades that were created during the Momoyama period were called the Shinto which literally translates to new swords.
Generally, these Shinto are considered to be inferior weapons compared to the koto (older swords) since there was a huge decline in the production skills of those who created the weapons. As time passed during the Edo period, the quality of blades also declined but the ornamentation and aesthetic beauty were further improved.
Under the rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the manufacturing of swords and utilization of firearms also declined; because of this, Masahide Suishinshi a master swordsmith claimed that the arts and methods of creating the shinto swords were greatly inferior compared to that of the koto blades. Because of this, the swordsmith stated that adequate research should be made so that all swordsmiths can rediscover the lost methods and techniques of forging. Masahide traveled to different places to teach everything that he knew about proper sword making; because of this, numerous swordsmiths approached the master swordsmith, rallying to his cause and welcomed the second renaissance in swordsmithing. Since the shinto style was discarded to embrace the old and rediscovered methods of sword-making, weapons that were created between the years 1761 and 1876 were called the Shinshinto, the new revival swords.