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