Sword Glossary : table view

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Termsort icon Definition
yakiba
燒刃

The hardened area of the blade.

Categories: Blade Terminology
yahazu
矢筈

Hamon type resembling arrow notches or a fishtail. Yahazu midare - irregular yahazu.

Categories: Hamon Types
wakizashi
脇差, 脇指

Blades greater than 30 and less than 60 cm (12 and 24 inches) in length are known as wakizashi. During the Edo period, this was the shorter of the pair of swords worn by samurai.

The word "wakizashi" comes from waki (脇), meaning "side", and zashi (差し), whose root is the verb sasu (差す), meaning "to wear a sword at one's side".

Special terms are used for blades of unusual length:

  • ko-wakizashi (小脇差) - short wakizashi (between 1 shaku and 1 shaku 9 sun, 9 bu (30.3 cm to 60.297 cm))
  • chū-wakizashi - medium wakizashi (between 1 shaku, 5 sun and 1 shaku, 7 sun, 9 bu (45.45 cm to 54.237 cm))
  • o-wakizashi (大脇差) - long wakizashi (between 1 shaku, 8 sun and 1 shaku, 9 sun, 9 bu (up to 60.297 cm))
Categories: Types of Swords/Pole Arms
utsuri
移り

(jap. utsuru - to be reflected) 'Reflections' of hamon in the ji. However, its shape may also be different from hamon. Utsuri is not as strong as the haom and in order to see it clearly the blade must be held against the light source. There are different types of utsuri based on the shape:

Also there are references to:

  • yakidashi-utsuri 焼出映り - whitish utsuri close to hamachi
  • seki-utsuri 関映り - utsuri present on some blades from Seki (Mino province)
  • sugu-utsuri 直映り - see bo-utsuri
  • kuro-utsuri 黒映り - is it the same as jifu-utsuri?
Categories: Hataraki
uma-ha
馬歯

Horse teeth shaped hamon pattern. Uma-midare stands for irregular uma-ha.

Categories: Hamon Types
uchinoke
打ちのけ

Small crescent moon shapes of nie appearing like nijuba in the ji close to the hamon.

An example of uchinoke can be seen here.

Categories: Hataraki
ubu
生ぶ

Blades which weren't shortened (still have nakago in its original shape) can be referred to as 'ubu'.

Categories: Blade Terminology
tsukuri-komi
造込み

Overall construction of the blade.

Categories: Blade Terminology
toranba
濤瀾刃

A hamon pattern resembling large, surging waves of the sea. Toran-midare - irregular toranba.

Categories: Hamon Types
togari-gunome
尖り互の目

Gunome in which the peaks are pointed and orderly. This pattern is found in the blades of Sue-Seki and related schools.

Categories: Hamon Types
togari
尖り

Lit. 'Pointed'. See togari-ba and togari-gunome.

Categories: General Terms
tobiyaki
飛焼

Islands of tempering in the ji (not connected to the main hamon).

Example

Tobiyaki

Categories: Hataraki
tachi
太刀

A curved sword with a blade longer than 2 shaku (~60cm). It was worn suspended from the belt with the blade edge down. They were mainly produced in Koto times. Later, many old tachi were cut down into katana. The majority of surviving tachi blades now are o-suriage, so it is rare to see an original signed ubu tachi.

Categories: Types of Swords/Pole Arms
sunzumari
寸詰まり

Shorter than average (see jōsun) wakizashi or tanto.

Categories: Blade Terminology
sunnobi
寸延び

Longer than average wakizashi or tanto.

See jōsun for more details.

Categories: Blade Terminology
sunagashi
砂流し, 砂流

An activity which resembles sweeping sands (lit. 'flowing sand'). Usually appears inside the hamon parallel to the cutting edge.

An example of sunagashi can be seen here.

Categories: Hataraki
suguba
直刃

Straight hamon. Suguba may be classified (according to the width of hamon) as:

Categories: Hamon Types
sudareba
簾刃

A hamon that resembles brush strokes, or a bamboo curtain. Sudareba is based on suguba or a shallow notare. Tanba no Kami Yoshimichi originated the pattern, and his followers maintained it.

Categories: Hamon Types
shaku

The shaku is an archaic Japanese unit of length which is commonly approximated to be 12 inches (1 foot). As with other measurements, it was originally derived from nature: the average length between nodes on bamboo. Since 1891, the shaku has been defined to equal 10/33 meter (approximately 30.3 cm, or 11.93 inches), or 3.3 shaku to the meter. A single shaku is divided into 10 sun (寸).

1 shaku = 11.93 inches (30.30 cm)

1 shaku = 10 sun
1 sun = 1.193 inches (3.03 cm)

1 sun = 10 bu
1 bu = 0.119 inches (0.303 cm)

1 bu = 10 rin
1 rin = 0.01193 inches (0.0303 cm)

Categories: Blade Terminology
sanjuba
三重刃

'Triple hamon'. See nijuba.

Categories: Hataraki
sanbon-sugi
三本杉

Lit. 'three cedars'. A sub-type of togari+gunome with repeating three peaks which resemble cedar trees. Originated by Kanemoto 2nd.

Categories: Hamon Types
saka ashi
逆足

Ashi slanted towards the tip of the blade.

Categories: Hataraki
orikaeshi-mei
折返銘

A way to preserve mei (signature) on the tang when shortening it (see o-suriage) by bending it around to the opposite side, therefore leaving it upside-down.

Categories: Blade Terminology
odachi
大太刀

A tachi with a cutting edge that exceeds 3 shaku (91cm).

See also The Nodachi/Ôdachi web files.

Categories: Types of Swords/Pole Arms
obusa-choji
大房丁子

Obusa means the shape of the head of hamon (round part of hamon) looks like a big bunch of choji.

Categories: Hamon Types
o-suriage
大磨上

A "greatly shortened" nakago. The o-suriage nakago is formed from the part of the blade (originally), while suriage nakago is more just reshaped. In this case the signature is usually lost, unless orikaeshi-mei or gaku-mei have been performed.

Categories: Blade Terminology
o-kissaki
大切先

Large kissaki. The size appears exaggerated in comparison with blades length and width.

Categories: Kissaki Types
o-dabira
大段平

A thick, curved type of companion sword of the Nambokucho Period with wide mihaba and o-kissaki.

Categories: Types of Swords/Pole Arms
notare
湾れ

An undulating pattern of gentle waves.

It can also be classified (by the wave amplitude) as:

Categories: Hamon Types
nokogiriba
鋸刃

See kataochi gunome.

Categories: Hamon Types
nogirimidare
鋸乱れ

See kataochi gunome.

Categories: Hamon Types
niku

Lit. 'meat'. ji having niku means that ji area is not flat, but rounded, curved in the cross-section.

Hira-niku - measure to describe the niku of hira area (also: ji-niku)
Ha-niku - niku of the area between the hamon and the cutting edge.

Niku can be described as full (平肉多い - hiraniku oi) or flat (平肉少ない - hiraniku sukunai).

Categories: Blade Terminology
nijuba
二重刃

Lit. 'Double hamon'. A second line of hamon which appears parallel to main hamon line. Triple line of hamon can be referred to as sanjuba.

An example of nijuba can be seen here.

Categories: Hataraki
Nihonto
日本刀

Japanese sword, a curved blade with shinogi.

Categories: General Terms
nezumi ashi
鼠足

'Rat's feet'. Small numerous ashi.

Categories: Hataraki
nakagojiri
茎尻

The end of the nakago.

Categories: Blade Terminology
nakago
中心

The tang of the sword; that part of the blade, below the machi, which is inserted into the hilt (tsuka). It is finished by hammering or filing, and often bears a carved signature. The hilt is attached by means of a peg (mekugi) inserted through a special hole (mekugi+ana) in the nakago.

Depending on the condition of nakago the following terms can be applied:

  • ubu (生ぶ) - for original, unshortened nakago
  • suriage (磨上) - for mildly shortened nakago
  • o-suriage (大磨上) - for greatly shortened nakago
Categories: Blade Terminology
nagasa
長さ

Blade length, measured from the tip to the munemachi.

Categories: Blade Terminology
muneyaki
棟焼

A tempered spot or line found on the mune.

Categories: Hataraki
munemachi
棟区

The notch dividing the blade from the tang on the mune side. See machi.

Categories: Blade Terminology
mihaba
身幅

The width of a blade measured from the mune to the cutting edge. See also: moto-haba, saki-haba.

Categories: Blade Terminology
midareba
乱刃

Irregular pattern of hamon. All hamon except [suguba] are midareba.

Sub-types of midareba:

Categories: Hamon Types
midare

Irregular. See midareba, choji midare.

Categories: General Terms
meibutsu
名物

Lit. 'Famous thing'. In relation to Nihonto, meibutsu is:

  1. a sword which is famous for its smith or owner(s) or most likely both.
  2. a sword listed in Kyōhō Meibutsu Chō. This record was compiled by Honami Mitsutada (本阿弥光忠) at the order of the Tokugawa government in Kyoho era. It enlists famous blades of historical importance from late Heian to Yoshino period. Detailed descriptions of the blades from Meibutsu Cho can be found in Albert Yamanaka's Nihonto Newsletter.
Categories: General Terms
machi
区, 匸

The notches dividing the blade proper from the tang. The notch on the blade side is called hamachi; that on the mune side is known as the munemachi.

Categories: Blade Terminology
kurijiri
栗尻

Lit. 'Chestnut-shaped'. The rounded shape of nakagojiri.

It's the one of the most commonly seen shapes.

Categories: Blade Terminology
kuichigai ha
喰い違い刃, 喰違刃

Lines of hamon, which are not completely aligned, creating a gap or a break in hamon. It's common in Yamato-den blades.

An example of kuichigai ha can be seen here.

Categories: Hataraki
ko-shinogi
小鎬

The part of the shinogi that runs from the yokote to the tip in the kissaki.

Categories: Blade Terminology
ko-ashi
小足

Small ashi.

An example of ko-ashi can be seen here.

Categories: Hataraki
kissaki
切先

The fan-shaped part of the blade above the yokote and the ko-shinogi. It may be whitened by polish. It's size is described as 'large' or 'small'.

Categories: Blade Terminology