What Is the Size of a Nodachi Sword?

The Nodachi is a huge sword that often measures around 3 Shaku or almost 36 inches. As with most terms in Nihonto arts, there is no specific definition of the Nodachi sword’s size. A sword cannot be qualified as a Nodachi if it does not measure around this.

The Chinese equivalent of the Nodachi in terms of length and weight is the Miao Dao. For its Western equivalent, though it’s less similar, is the Claymore or Longsword.

Connection with Mythology

Due to their extreme weight and length, the Nodachi sword is a weapon believed to be utilized by the gods. This belief came about as early as the 5th century when people thought that the Nodachi measured close to a hundred centimeters.

Since human could not utilize the measurement of such a sword, they believed that gods wielded such blades.

To add more fuel to such beliefs, two swords measuring around 134 and 117 centimeters, were unearthed from Japan’s mountains.

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The discovered swords were pieces believed to have been offered to gods in the 5th century. Their gigantic size and visual appeal closely resembled the Nodachi blades.

There were also claims that the kings made some offerings to the gods using these swords. These gods then utilized the swords to end battles of the time. Even during warfare, a lot of Samurai offered field swords to their gods to aid them in battle.

Uses and Advantages of the Nodachi’s Size

When it comes to regular battles, Nodachi wielders took advantage of its length for effective attacks against foot soldiers. Samurai on horseback often carried these swords to battle.

However, some Samurai wielded these on foot, and they carried these on their backs or by hand. Yet for those who used this huge sword, they required an assistant to help them draw the sword whenever necessary.


Also, the Nodachi was often a votive offering in important shrines. It was a symbol used when warriors prayed before heading out to the battlefield.

How Was the Nodachi Constructed?

Producing a Nodachi involved a different process compared to forging shorter types of Nihonto. Due to its size, it became difficult for swordsmiths to construct this sword. It made quenching and applying heat treatment evenly throughout the blade more challenging.

Why Was the Nodachi Difficult to Produce?

As mentioned, the length of the Nodachi made it challenging to forge. If a blade was longer, it was more difficult to heat it to a uniform temperature when annealing and hardening the steel. Also, it was more expensive to produce the Nodachi since it required more materials and time.

Since the Nodachi is a larger sword, swordsmiths needed to use a bigger quenching medium. If they didn’t have the appropriate medium, quenching was likely to become uneven. This could lead to warping of the blade, which affects its overall quality.

Also, when the carbon steel material was not evenly spread throughout the blade, the sword would be a less efficient weapon.

Polishing the Nodachi

Forging was not the only different process in constructing the Nodachi. Polishing also involved a different and more challenging process.

When polishing the Nodachi, the swordsmith would hang the sword from the ceiling or place it in a stationary position. Polishing smaller swords, on the other hand, was easier for swordsmiths since the blades were easier to move.


Sharpened Nodachi

In the past, obtaining a fully sharpened Nodachi was also difficult, and it required custom orders. This was due to the challenging process of sharpening the long blade.

In modern times, a lot of forges in Japan and China accept these orders. It’s because of the renewed interest of people in ancient Japanese weapons.

The Decline of the Nodachi

One of the reasons for the decline of the Nodachi was its complicated production process.

Over the years, various types of Nihonto with shorter blades were introduced. Since these smaller Nihonto had reasonable degrees of accuracy, these slowly replaced the Nodachi.

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