Japanese Katana Terminology for Movie Sword Replica Collectors | Movie Sword Awesome Replica
Japanese Katana Terminology for Movie Sword Replica Collectors

If you’ve read the previous post on basic sword terminology and think it was piece of cake, then you’ll certainly be able to digest the Japanese katana challenge. I tried to look for a cool pic of Hiro Nakamura’s ‘Takezo Kensei’ katana but none was detailed enough to describe with. So the one below will have to do. Since this is a post on Japanese sword terminology, all the terms will be in Nihongo (in roman letters of course). Yatta!

japanese katana terminology visual description glossary
Let’s begin with the blade. Kissaki is the blade point also known as the most difficult part of a katana to be forged and polished. Both sides of the Kissaki surface are at a different plane than the rest of the blade and converges to the sharp blade tip. Therefore it’s no surprise one of the main factors that determine the katana value is the quality and condition of the Kissaki. It’s worthy to note here that there are 2 lines separating the Kissaki from the rest of the blade - Koshinogi and Yokote which will be explained in the following section. These dividing lines and the Kissaki tip determine the 3 types of Kissaki – Chu-Kissaki (medium), O-Kissaki (long) and Ko-Kissaki (short) as shown in the pic below. Feeling dizzy already?

japanese katana terminology kissaki visual description glossaryNext comes the shinogi, the ridge line along the length of the blade. There’s also the Koshinogi which is the shinogi in the shape of a sharp arc that stretches along the Kissaki.

Yokote is the dividing line that separates the Kissaki (blade point) surface and blade plane.

Hi or Bo-hi is the blade groove designed to prevent the sword from bending and to reduce its weight without compromising strength. It’s similar to the fuller in European swords.

Yakiba is the tempered line with a particular pattern stretching across the blade. It’s the result of the different heat treatment applied to the blade to make the edge harder. The Yakiba comes in many different patterns known as Hamon. There’s the straight Sugu, wavy Notare, zig-zag Gunome and many others.

Boshi is the tempered line that stretches into the Kissaki (blade point). The Boshi also has various design styles.

japanese katana terminology mune visual description glossaryMune is the back ridge of the blade. There are 3 different types of Mune according to the design – Ihori (standard 2 surfaces), Mitsu (3 surfaces) and Maru (rounded surface).

Ha is the sharp cutting edge of the blade.

Hada is the visible design of the grain on the sword steel. The shape of the grain is a direct result of the way the sword was folded when forging.

Tsuba is the cross-guard made of steel, copper, silver or some other durable metal to prevent the hand from sliding to the blade during thrusting action and also to protect the hand from enemy attacks. Nothing to do with Captain Tsubasa ;)

Tsuka is the hilt or handle made of wood and normally wrapped in ray skin.

Kashira is the pommel at the end of the hilt.

Saya is the scabbard or sheath usually made of wood to protect the blade. If you’re an anime fan, Saya was the heroine character in Blood+. Now you see the connection.

Sageo is the cord used to secure the sword to the obi (belt).

Kurikata is the knob on the scabbard through which the Sageo (cord) is passed through.

Kojiri is the ornament at the closed end of the scabbard.

Koiguchi is the opened end of the scabbard where the sword is sheathed and unsheathed from.

Phew! So there you have it, a short marathon on katana terminology. But don’t let loose yet. All the above are just some of the basics. There’s still a lot more to it like the Nakago (sword tangs), Nakago-jiri (tang tip), various blade shapes, etc. Keep posted for future updates on some of these advanced terms.

Japanese Katana Terminology for Movie Sword Replica Collectors

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