Seppa – Katana Sword Spacers
Seppa are washers that are used and located in front and behind the tsuba. This part is use to tighten the fittings of the sword. Katana Seppa is more than just a decorative accessory. This can be ornate or plain in appearance. This can either be single or two piece. The tsuba seats in the middle of these spacers. In other words it is located on the right and left of the tsuba. The square mechanism allows the locking mechanism to go through. Katana Seppa is considered as important Japanese sword fittings because this acts as shock absorber when the user comes in contact with his sword. The use of this part ensures a good fit of the habaki, blade and tsuka. Seppa also separates the blade from the hand guard. These are usually made of copper and are one of the traditional koshirae materials. Each of these comes in pair. These measures about one millimeter in thickness. In swords of the buke-zukuri type found between the guard and the hilt. Some Samurai uses colored ribbon through the holes.
Katana Seppa Characteristics
Eliminates the possibility of rattling sound emanating from the tsuba
Ensures proper habaki to tsuka fittings
Traditionally used on Japanese swords
Usually made of copper
Covers the signature or mei to keep this invisible
A Japanese sword has these washers placed on each side of the guard or tsuba. Katana Seppa was originally used as support. This reinforces the guard to keep it strong. This allowed the guard to remain thin in appearance. The largest one is referred to as O-Seppa since this is located near the guard. The smaller one is known as Ko-Seppa. The smallest one is the Sasara-Seppa and Kowari-Seppa. Seppa Dai is the oval shaped washer in the center of the tsuba; around the opening for the tang. It is in this position where the name of the maker lies on the opening. This also holds information about the date and information on the right side of this part.
Kinds of Seppa
There are two kinds of spacer. The first one is made of a small metal ring. This fits above the fuchi and below the tsuba. This comes in a design that resembles a winding ivy stem or a rope. To someone not that familiar with how this works it looks like a part of the fuchi. The function of the second Seppa is to hold the tsuba in place. This looks identical to the first one in every way. Tsuba are sword guard, located on the top of the handle. These are circular in shape and are usually square, octagonal or hexagonal. Some materials are made of brass. When replacing this part the tsuba must be removed as well. The blade needs to be loosen. Know which one is placed against the habaki or blade collar and which ones of these are place against the tsuka. Simply put, one of these must match the size of the tsuka while the other one must match the saya. The orientation of the tsuba must be noted as well. This must be done in order to know which part goes where when it is time to reassemble.