Sword Glossary : table view

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Lit. 'golden line'. A small straight whitish line of nie inside the hamon, similar to inazuma.

An example of kinsuji can be seen here.

Categories: Hataraki

Lit. 'Chrysanthemum in the water'. This peculiar type of hamon made in Shinto times by smiths like Kawachi no kami Kunisuke and his followers.

Categories: Hamon Types

Lit. "pheasant's leg". The shape of nakago which has the blade side of the nakago suddenly narrowing at some point and then remaining narrow to the tip. This style can be seen in Heian and Kamakura tachi.

Categories: Nakago Types

'Sword-shaped'. Shape of the nakagojiri with two straight lines coming to a point in the center at around 90 degree angle.

It is often seen among works of Masamune and his school, and Shinto swords made in Soshu tradition.

Categories: Blade Terminology

Double-edged straight sword. Ken form is most commonly seen in tanto, but longer kens also exist.

Categories: Types of Swords/Pole Arms
kawazuko choji midare

Choji midare pattern with the peaks which resemble tadpoles.

It can be seen in the works of Osafune Mitsutada.

Categories: Hamon Types
kataochi gunome

Flat topped gunome that slant in the same direction like saw teeth. Originated by Osafune Kagemitsu and continued by Kanemitsu. Also known as nokogiriba and nogirimidare.

Categories: Hamon Types

Blades longer than 60 cm are called katana. They are worn thrust through the belt, with the cutting edge facing upward. The katana superseded tachi beginning in the Muromachi period. One distinctive style, produced in late Muromachi, is known as uchigatana. It as it's deeply curved in the upper part of the blade and is wielded with one hand.

Categories: Types of Swords/Pole Arms

Thickness of the blade. See also: moto-kasane, saki-kasane.

Categories: Blade Terminology

Rough polishing given by swordsmith to inspect for any flaws just after yaki-ire process.

Categories: General Terms

A small groove beside a regular groove of a blade. Yamanaka mentions that this was an old term for soe-bi.

Categories: Blade Terminology

The Tokugawa Shogunate standardized the size of swords in Japan during the Edo period to what is commonly called jōsun length. For katana jōsun is 2 shaku 3 sun 5 bu (71.21cm), for tantō - 8 sun 5 bu (25.76cm).

Tantō longer than jōsun are called sunnobi-tantō 寸延び短刀, and less than jōsun sunzumari-tantō 寸詰まり短刀. There was no standard length for wakizashi, but those over 1 shaku 8 Sun (54.5 cm) are called ō-wakizashi 大脇指. Tachi 太刀 of more than 3 Shaku (90.9 cm) are referred to as ōdachi 大太刀, whereas tachi under 2 shaku (60.6 cm) are called Kodachi 小太刀.


Categories: Blade Terminology

A surface between the shinogi and the hamon. See also: jihada, jigane, hira.

Categories: Blade Terminology

Activity in the hamon similar to kinsuji, but resembling lightning. Inazuma runs out from the hamon into the ji and then back into hamon. Kinsuji is found only inside the hamon. 

An example of inazuma can be seen here.

Categories: Hataraki

lit. 'cut from this point onwards'

You may see this term on certificates while describing signatures when only part of the signature remains on nakago due to shortening (osuriage).


If original signature

hizen ju harima daijō fujiwara tadakuni

was shortened to:

hizen ju harima daijō ...

then you may see the following description:

hizen ju harima daijō (ikakire)
Categories: General Terms

Activity which looks like stray lines from hamon into the ji.

Categories: Hataraki

Gunome+midare or notare+midare with tobiyaki spread across the width of the blade. Originated by Soshu swordsmiths during the Nanbokucho period. Then it could be seen on blades forged throughout the country.

Categories: Hamon Types

Blade without a shinogi.

Categories: General Terms

Hi is a groove engraved along the blade on the shinogi-ji or hira-ji area. Originally the main purpose of these grooves was to reduce the blade's weight and improve its cutting ability. Later grooves served as a decoration or even as a way to conceal flaws.

Grooves are classified according to shape and location with terms describing the top of the groove ending with -hi (樋, usually pronounced as -bi when preceded by other characters) or -tome (止め) for features at the bottom of the groove (known as tome).


  • bo-bi: A continuous straight groove of notable width, known as katana-bi on tantō. With soe-bi, a secondary narrow groove follows the inner straight length of the main one. With tsure-bi, the secondary is similar but continues beyond the straight length.
  • kage-bi: A small groove beside a regular groove of a blade. Yamanaka mentions that this was an old term for soe-bi.
  • futasuji-bi: Two parallel grooves.
  • shobu-bi: A groove shaped like the leaf of an iris plant.
  • naginata-bi: A miniature bo-bi whose top is oriented opposite from the blade's, and usually accompanied by a soe-bi. Seen primarily on naginatas.
  • kuichigai-bi: Two thin grooves that run the top half of the blade; the bottom half is denoted by the outer groove stopping halfway while the inner one expands to fill the width.
  • koshi-bi: A short rounded-top groove found near the bottom of a blade, near to the tang.


  • kaki-toshi: The groove runs all the way down to the end of the tang.
  • kaki-nagashi: The groove tapers to a pointed end halfway down the tang.
  • kaku-dome: The groove stops as a square end within 3 cm of the tang's upper end.
  • maru-dome: Similar to the kaku, except with a rounded-end.
Categories: Blade Terminology

Various activities, distinctive features of the steel seen inside the hamon and ji, created during the hardening process.

See hataraki in hamon and hataraki in jihada for an overview of different types of activity.

Categories: Blade Terminology

A distinct temper line between areas of softer (ji) and harder (ha) steel along the edge of the blade.

See Hamon Types for more details.

Categories: Blade Terminology

A notch on the blade side. See machi.

Categories: Blade Terminology

Box shaped hamon.

Categories: Hamon Types
hako midare

Uneven box shaped hamon. See also: hakoba.

Categories: Hamon Types

Similar to sunagashi, but with thinner lines resembling brush strokes.

An example of hakikake can be seen here: Hataraki @ NihontoCraft.com.

Categories: Hataraki

See nagasa.

Categories: Blade Terminology

A tempered cutting edge of a blade.

Categories: Blade Terminology

Imperial property. An item is referred to as Gyobutsu if it belongs to the Imperial Collection of objects which are either of aesthetic or historic value to Japan or to the Imperial family (supervised by the Imperial Household Agency). The most famous collections are the Shōsōin Gyobutsu (正倉院御物) in Nara and Higashiyama Gobunko Gyobutsu (東山御文庫御物) in Kyoto.

Also, from the Muromachi period onwards, the shoguns followed a similar system. Objects from their collections were also called Gyobutsu (e.g. objects once in the collection of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1435-90) are called Higashiyama Gyobutsu (東山御物). The term Ryuuei Gyobutsu 抑営御物 refers to the collections of the Tokugawa Shoguns.

(Source: JAANUS)

This term is actively used in Kyōhō+Meibutsu+Chō to describe whereabouts of particular meitō.

Osaka Gyobutsu - collection of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (see NN-4-7-23)
Owari Gyobutsu - collection of Owari Tokugawa family
Gyobutsu - property of Tokugawa shogunate

Categories: General Terms

Series of waves which look like semicircles of equal or similar size. Depending on its size, this pattern can be referred to as:

Categories: Hamon Types
Goban Kaji

Goban Kaji are the smiths who were summoned by Emperor Gotoba for his personal instruction and the research and development for perfection to the Japanese Sword. See more details here.

Categories: General Terms

A way to preserve mei (signature) on the tang when shortening it (see o-suriage) by cutting it off the original position and reattaching it to the altered nakago.

Categories: Blade Terminology

The cutting edge of the kissaki. Also, the curvature of the kissaki. It can be described as rounded or not rounded.

Categories: Blade Terminology
choji midare

A hamon consisting of choji shapes. The upper part of the midare is roundish, and the lower part constricted and narrow.


Categories: Hamon Types
choji ashi

Clove-shaped ashi.

Categories: Hataraki
chabana choji

Lit. 'Tea Flowers'

A distinctive hamon of Hojoji School which resembles tea flowers with rounded, double-petal heads.

Categories: Hamon Types

Utsuri which is seen as a straight line, regardless of the shape of hamon.

Bo-utsuri is found of many of the Osafune smiths' works after Oei era. Also found on Sue-Aoe blades.

Also sometimes referred to as sugu-utsuri 直映り (lit. 'straight utsuri').

See utsuri for more information.

Categories: Hataraki

Literally 'legs', usually made of nioi, which extend from the hamon to the cutting edge.

There's been an opinion that ashi was developed consisting of softer steel within the yakiba to localize the breaks and prevent the blade to be broken in half. When stress is applied to a section of the blade, the blade would chip at the harder areas because the ashi around it would absorb the stress.

An example of ashi can be seen here: Hataraki @ NihontoCraft.com.

Types of ashi

ko-ashi - small ashi.
nezumi ashi - 'Rat's feet'. Small numerous ashi.
choji ashi - clove-shaped ashi.
gunome ashi - zigzag-shaped ashi.
saka ashi - slanted ashi.

Categories: Hataraki