The katana (刀) is the japanese sword used often by samurai.Until the age of 5 a bushi child, or warrior child, practiced with a wooden sword.It represents the honor of the samurai and was believed by samurai to contain the soul of it's past wielder (if there was one). The art of swordsmanship in japan is known as kenjutsu.The samurai's foremost goal was to master kenjutsu.


Blade Edit

The katana in samurai society has no set size categorized as having a blade made of steel with a curved edge and a length of 2 - 3 shaku (61 - 90 cm). Those 3 shaku or more (90cm+) are refered to as ōdachi and are often used as a synonym for katana.The blade is most commonly made of steel, but older katana blades' are made of iron.The blade is sharp enough to cut through 3 - 4 people in one cut if held by the right hands.

The nagako (hilt), has a hole in drilled in it called the mekugi-ana. It anchors the blade using mekugi, a small bamboo pin inserted into another cavity, the Tsuka and through the mekugi-ana.This restricts the blade from slipping out.

An important feature of the katana is that it has one sharp side of the blade. This has meaning to the samurai.

Nagako Edit

The nagako is the hilt of the katana. The nagako has a steel base with a bamboo cover wrapped in black or blue cloth (traditionaly). On the upper nagako is the swordsmith's signature (mei). The wait of the nagako is what allows the speed and proficiency of the katana as a whole.

Sheath Edit

There are two types of sheaths, both of which require the same exacting work. One is the shira-saya, which is generally made of wood and considered the 'resting' sheath, used as a storage sheath. The other sheath is the more decorative or battle-worthy sheath which is usually called either a jindachi-zukuri or a buke-zukuri, depending on whether it was supposed to be suspended from the obi(belt) by straps when the sword is mounted in Tachi-Koshirae or thrust through the obi if mounted as katana-koshirae, respectively.

In Japanese Culture Edit

Before the Meiji Restoration, only samurai had the right to carry a katana.The katana was believed to have its own spirit.As such the katana was an inheritance from father to son, revealing the family roots.As the samurai's primary weapon was the katana, the samurai trained fiercly in kenjutsu.

The katana was sometimes dual-wielded with the wakizashi or the tanto in a combination called daisho, literally translated ''big and small".The katana was created with one blade which the samurai had facing their front allowing for better one-on-one's.

References Edit

  1. Nagayama, p. 341.
  2. Nagayama, p. 28.
  3. 鉄と生活研究会編 『鉄の本(Book of iron)』  ISBN 9784526060120
  4. Sword Forum International
  5. The Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons)(Amendment) Order 2008
  6. Samurai Swords to be Banned in UK