On this page you will find more detailed information about blade lamination techniques, katana parts, as well as some tips for the maintenance of our custom made katanas..
At BattleBlades Inc., we’re experts in designing and forging traditional Japanese weapons. Reach out to us with any questions you may have about katana parts, sword terminology, or Japanese weapons history.
PARTS OF JAPANESE KATANA EXPLAINED
A traditional japanese katana's Nagasa (8) is forged to equal about two shaku or 60cm. They have a slight curve, Sori (9) and a single sharpened edge, Ha (25). The main characteristics of the blade that separate katanas from each other are:
Mune (24): This is the back edge of the blade
Ji (31): The softest section of metal in the back of the blade
Ha (25): The harder section of the metal at the front of the blade
Kissaki (11): This is the slightly rounded tip of the blade
Shinogi (29): The ridgeline of the blade (not the same as the hamon line).
The Hamon line (27) is a unique design on the blade that naturally forms through the clay tempering process the steel undergoes. This line visually separates the higher and lower temperature steel tempering. The temper line is like a fingerprint. Swordsmiths who make high quality katanas can be recognized from their unique hamon lines, as each has mastered their own technique for tempering the blade.
The tsuka includes the whole handle part of the katana, made from many different components. To name a few important game changers:
Mekugi (7): These are wooden pegs that adhere the tang of the blade to the hilt.
Samé-Hada (3): This is the material that covers the hilt of the sword, traditionally made of ray skin.
Tsuka-Ito (5): This is a silk wrap that covers the samé for better grip of the hilt.
Menuki (6): A final, decorative charm that is wrapped into the ito. It covers the mekugi.
The Tsuka-Ito (5) can be wrapped in many ways to benefit different needs. For example the Katate-maki wrapping, also
known as the battle wrap (see above on the Sōdai Tamahagane Katana), ensures a firm grip of the handle, as the flatter wrapping makes sure your hand always hugs the handle tightly. The Menuki (6), also known as the palm ornament, exists to (as its name suggests), fill the empty space of the palm when gripping on the tsuka. Like the Fuchi (20), Kashira (1) and Tsuba (22), japanese katanas are usually themed to suit the katana's name, owner and purpose. The Tsuba (22) is the hand-guard of the sword and the Habaki (23), the metal collar right underneath it, locks the Tsuba (22) in its position with the aid of Seppa spacers (21). As you can easily see, a real custom made katana has plenty of distinctive details!
While not technically part of the katana sword’s anatomy, the saya (18) is a scabbard. These can vary in material and style. Many prefer lacquered wood in their high quality katanas, others like horns or bone. The important thing about the saya is that it’s made to protect the blade part of the katana.
Kurigata (15): The loop for Sageo (17) on the side of the saya, usually made of buffalo horn and embellished with a golden Shito-Dome (16).
Sageo (17): The wrap around saya, which can also be used to secure the sword to the Hakama (type of traditional Japanese clothing).
Katanas at BattleBlades Inc.
With this knowledge of high quality katana parts, you’re much better equipped to start shopping for a high quality sword. At BattleBlades Inc., we’re experts in the field of traditional Japanese weapon design and forging. Reach out to us with any questions you may have about katana parts, sword terminology, or Japanese weapons history. Click here to check out our selection of premium quality handforged Japanese weapons.
KATANA PARTS - VOCABULARY
1. Kashira / Tsuka-Gashira - The embellished cap at the end of the handle.
2. Kashira-Gane - The metal fitting in the Kashira to secure handle wrapping.
3. Same-Hada - The Stingray skin wrapped around the handle, under the Tsuka-Ito.
4. Makidome - The knot that forms when the handle wrapping is finished and tied.
5. Tsuka-Ito / Tsukamaki - The silk wrapping around the handle.
6. Menuki - The palm ornament on the handle.
7. Mekugi-ana / Nakago / Mekugi - The hole in the Nakago for Mekugi / The tang inside of the Tsuka / Wooden bamboo sticks used to secure the handle.
8. Nagasa - The blade of the katana.
9. Sori - The curvature of a katana, varying from deep curve to straight.
10. Mono-uchi - The straight part at the end of the blade.
11. Kissaki - The tip of the blade.
12. Yokote - The line dividing Kissaki from the rest of the Nagasa.
13. Boshi - The clay temper line that extends from Nagasa to the Kissaki.
14. Koiguchi - The part at the beginning of the scabbard, traditionally made from horn to prevent the blade from cutting through the Saya when quick drawing.
15. Kurigata - The loop in Saya for the wrapping.
16. Shito-Dome - The embellished inside of the Kurigata.
17. Sageo - The silk wrapping around the Saya.
18. Saya - The scabbard of the sword.
19. Kojiri - The protective fitting at the end of the saya, typically made of buffalo horn.
20. Fuchi - The counterpart to the Kashira, Fuchi is the decorative band keeping the Tsuka-Ito in place and securing the blade to the handle.
21. Seppa - The Seppa spacers are used to secure and tighten the Tsuba, Habaki and Nagasa.
22. Tsuba - The hand guard of the katana.
23. Habaki - The "blade collar" helps to lock the Tsuba in place and keeps the katana securely in the Saya when not in use.
24. Mune - The back of the blade.
25. Ha - The sharpened part of the blade.
26. Hasaki - The cutting edge of the blade.
27. Hamon - The clay temper line which separates the harder edge from the softer spine.
28. Bo / Bo-Hi - The "blood groove" on the blade, balances, lightens and hardens the weapon without sacrificing any cutting power.
29. Shinogi - The straight part of the blade, between the Ha and Mune.
30. Shinogi-Ji - The line separating the Ha and Shinogi.
31. Ji / Hiraji - The non clay tempered part of the blade, between Hamon and Shinogi.