Terms for the Japanese Sword

This is a vocabulary list of terms used with
the Japanese Swords.

Books in English with a more complete list of sword-related terms can be found in Harry Watson's books.
Harry Watson

AFU Research Enterprises, Inc

Harry Watson translated Japanese sword books into English.
This is a great way to learn/read more about the Japanese sword.
He has terms translated at the end of the books.

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Aikuchi - Small tanto (knife) without a tsuba (hand guard)

Ashi - The band and ring found on the saya (scabbard) of a sword used to suspend the sword from a belt.

Buke zukuri - A traditional samurai style of mounts. Has a lacquered saya (scabbard), tsuba (hand guard), tsuka (hilt) bound in ito (silk cord), fuchi - the ferrule (metal fitting) on tsuka (hilt) closest to tsuba (hand guard).

Ha - Cutting edge.

Habaki - The metal collar found in front of the tsuba (hand guard) that holds the blade in the saya (scabbard).

Ha-machi - Notch on cutting edge under habaki (collar).

Hamon - The temper pattern, a line of crystal (martensite) found between the shinogi (ridgeline) and edge of blade.

Hineri-maki - A style of tsuka-maki (hilt wrapping) where the ito (silk cord) is twisted.

Ishizuke - The end of the saya (scabbard), called a chape or drag, found the farthest way from the tsuba (hand guard). This term used with tachi type mounts and WWII style mounts as kai-gunto, kyu-gunto, shin-gunto

Ito - Silk cord used to bind the tsuka (hilt).

Kabuto-gane - The pommel (metal fitting) on the tsuka (hilt) farthest from the tsuba (hand guard). This term used for tachi, kai-gunto and shin-gunto.

Kai-gunto - A naval sword (WWII period) styled to resemble a tachi (long sword worn cutting edge down) using black lacquered saya (scabbard) and ito (silk cord).

Kashira - The pommel (metal fitting) on the tsuka (hilt) farthest from the tsuba (hand guard). This is the term used for samurai katana (long sword), wakizashi (short sword), and tanto (knife).

Katana - A sword with blade length over two shaku (about 24 inches), mounted to carry cutting-edge up through the obi (wide belt).

Kissaki - Tip of blade.

Kogai - A skewer carried in a pocket of the saya (scabbard) on some swords. Found on the omote (outside or away from the body when worn on the left side of the body) side.

Kuchi-gane - Throat of saya (scabbard).

Kozuka - A knife carried in a pocket of the saya (scabbard) on some swords. Found on the ura (inside or towards the body when worn on the left side of the body) side.

Kurikata - The cord knob found on the saya (scabbard) made of horn, wood or metal. The sageo (cord) is threaded through and used to tie the saya (scabbard) to the obi (belt).

Kyu-gunto - A European-style mounts with a D-hand guard and metal saya (scabbard).

Machi - The notch found between the blade and the nakago (tang). The habaki (collar) slides on to the nakago (tang) to this point.

Mei - The kanji (characters) found on the nakago(tang). They usually state the blade maker's name and the date made.

Mekugi - A small bamboo pin placed through a hole in the tsuka (hilt) that holds the tsuka (hilt) to the blade.

Mekugi-ana - The hole in the nakago (tang) which the mekugi (pin) goes through. There may be more than one.

Menuki - The ornament bound under the ito (silk cord) to improve grip on tsuka(hilt).

Mumei - An unsigned blade. No characters on nakago (tang).

Mune - The back of the blade.

Mune-machi - The notch on the mune (back) used to keep the habaki (collar) from sliding forward.

Obi-tori - A suspension/hanging ring located on the saya (scabbard). Used to place sword on a belt hanger.

Origami - Certificate stating authentification of the sword. Issued by a professional Japanese sword judge.

Oshigata - A rubbing of the nakago (tang) signature. How to Make Oshigata

Rio-Hitsu - The hole in the tsuba (hand guard) on some WWII style sword mounts. The hole is used for a saya (scabbard) retention clip.

Same - The skin of a ray (a pearl ray like a manta ray). The skin has rounded nodules with few large nodules.

Saru-te - A metal loop used to affix a sword knot. The loop passes through the kabuto-gane (metal fitting on end of hilt).

Saya - A wooden case for the sword blade often called a scabbard.

Seppa - Washer or spacers located on either side of the tsuba (hand guard).

Shibabiki - An ornament used to bind the two halves of a wood saya (scabbard) together. On WWII style fitting used as decoration.

Shakudo - An alloy of copper, silver, and gold that has a rich black patina.

Shin-gunto - The WWII Japanese Army Officer sword mounts/fittings.

Shinogi - A ridgeline located between the mune (back) and ha (edge) of a blade.

Sori - The curvature of the blade.

Tachi - A sword over 24 inches long in cutting length carried attached to the obi (belt) with edge down.

Tanto - A sword less than 12 inches in cutting length with a tsuba (hand guard).

Tsuba - The hand guard located just forward of the tsuka (hilt).

Tsuka - The hilt of the sword.

Tsuka-maki - The art of tying the ito (silk cord) to the tsuka (hilt).

Tsumami-maki - A style of tsuka-maki (hilt wrapping) where the ito (silk cord) is pinched at the cross over point.

Wakizashi - A sword between 12 inches and 24 inches in cutting length.

Yakiba - The tempered cutting edge.

Yasurime - The file marks on the nakago (tang).

Yokote - The dividing line between the body of the blade and the kissaki (point).

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