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Learn Japanese Katana Sword Terms (Part 2)

If you’ve read Part 1 of this article, this sequel continues with the description on the Japanese Katana hilt section. If you are a sword replica collector or a sword enthusiast, this article can help you to learn more about the Katana and understand product specifications of replicas for sale on and off the net. It will also add few more Japanese words to your vocabulary.

In the previous article “Learn Japanese Katana Sword Terms (Part 1)”, we covered the sword glossary of the Katana’s blade section. In this second article, we will continue with Japanese terms used for the Katana’s hilt section. The hilt section starts from the cross-guard and ends at the pommel.

Tsuba is the cross-guard made of steel, copper, silver or some other durable metal and it serves to prevent the wielder’s hands from sliding to the blade during a thrusting strike. It is also designed to protect the hands from an enemy’s sword. A Tsuba usually has fine meticulous design and in ancient days the Samurai craft their family crest on to the Tsuba. These days the Tsuba is a favourite collector’s item. There are still some Tsuba used as family heirlooms passed down from one generation to another.

Tsuka (which sounds almost like Tsuba) is the handle of the sword, commonly made of wood and wrapped in ray skin. Tsuka is where the wielder’s hands grip the sword.

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, you certainly know that Saya was the heroine character in Blood+ and she wields a unique sword with a groove that requires her blood to kill demons. Quite a character name for a sword-fighting anime which makes it easier to remember too.

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. Technically it is the butt-cap of the scabbard. Ko- means small while jiri- implies tip.

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

So there you have it, a short marathon on the Japanese Katana terminology. All the above are just some of the basics introduced to the general audience. There’s still a lot more terms that we haven’t touched on such as the Nakago (sword tangs), Nakago-jiri (tang tip), various blade shapes, etc. So keep posted for future updates on some of these advanced terms.

We end this article with a little history on the Japanese Katana. The Katana was developed in the Muromachi period (1392–1573) as the answer to the need for a razor-sharp sword which can be drawn with lightning speed. The Katana enabled this by being worn with the blade sharp edge facing up, allowing the samurai to draw and cut the enemy in a single strike. Previously the curved sword was worn with the blade sharp edge facing down. Speed was the main determining factor of life and death for a samurai in the ancient days.

For a more visual-friendly description with labels for easy reference, you can visit this page :

And if you’re an avid sword collector or planning to be oneScience Articles, you can check out my blog for info and guides on movie sword replicas :

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Jason Liew is a blogger with a passion for movie sword replicas. Nicknamed SwordFinder, he’s always searching for quality swords and information on the products available on the net. He also blogs on upcoming hot movies featuring  stunning sword designs that will generate huge fan demand.

Sword collectors appreciate his honest feedback and review on sword manufacturers and their products. Jason welcomes anyone with the same passion to visit his blog to share their knowledge and experience.

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