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Different Types of Samurai Swords

Different Types of Samurai Swords

Samurai warriors were a fierce and highly respected class in the hierarchy of Japan’s class system. The main weapon that they used to fight off their enemies was the now world famous Samurai sword. In addition to the sword, Samurais also used bow and arrows, spears, and even guns. 

Tachi

This type of Samurai sword came after the more famous Katana, however, it was much more curved and longer in length than its predecessor. For instance, the average Tachi measured about 75 cm long. The main use of this type of sword was for combat whilst riding on horseback and proved to be the perfect weapon for attacking foot soldiers. The literal translation of Tachi from Japanese to English is ‘big sword’. There are actually a number of different types of Tachi Samurai swords, these include the following:

  • Kogarasu Maru – a very famous and old sword.
  • Dojigiri Yasutsuna – the oldest of all the swords.
  • Mikazuki Munechika – the most beautiful of all the blades. 
  • Otenta Mitsuyo – used by the Maeda family.
  • Juzumaru Tsunetsugu – known also as the rosary sword.
  • Onimaru Kunistsuna – this was believed to be perfect for killing an oni or demons.
  • Honjo Masamune – the rarest and finest of all Samurai swords.

Katana

Probably the best known of all the different types of Samurai sword, the Katana typically measures anywhere between 3 and 4 feet. The hilt makes up around about a quarter of the overall length of the sword and is curved in shape. Due to the length of the handle, it is long enough to accommodate both hands and means that it can be used from great distance from the opponent. Of all of the swords that the Samurai used, this is by far the longest one. It is well used in popular culture, such as movies and television shows. The literal translation of Katana into English is ‘sword’. However, the Katana is not one single type of sword – there are in fact three different types. These are:

  • Kissaki Moroha Zukuri – this sword is not only curved in shape but the blade is double edged.
  • Shobu Zukuri – similar in style to the Shinogi Zukuri, this sword does not have a line in it that separates the tip from the main blade.
  • Shinogi Zukuri – a common type of sword in Japan, this has a line in it that separates it from the tip of the blade.

Wakizashi

Similar to the Katana, but somewhat shorter in length (approx. 30 cm to 60 cm), a Wakizashi was usually worn by Samurai along with a Katana during the times of feudal Japan. When worn together, this combination was known as ‘daisho’, which literally translates to ‘large and small’ in English. It was a sword that was used by the samurai alongside the katana and was very well suited to use inside given the fact that it was more maneuverable due to its shorter length. The name Wakizashi translates in English to ‘side insertion’ and is a symbol of integrity and worth.

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