Katana were one of the traditionally made Japanese swords that were used by the samurai of ancient and feudal Japan. The katana is characterized by its distinctive appearance: a curved, single-edged blade with a circular or squared guard and long grip to accommodate two hands. "Katana" is the term now used to describe the family of swords known as nihontō that are 2 shaku 60 cm in length, or longer. Katana can be known as dai or daitō among Western sword enthusiasts although daitō is a generic name for any Japanese long sword meaning "big sword"; as Japanese does not have separate plural and singular forms, both katanas and katana are considered acceptable forms in English. Pronounced, the kun'yomi of the kanji 刀 meaning dao or knife/saber in Chinese, the word has been adopted as a loanword by the Portuguese language. In Portuguese the designation means machete; the katana is defined as the standard sized, moderately curved Japanese sword with a blade length greater than 60 cm. It is characterized by its distinctive appearance: a curved, single-edged blade with a circular or squared guard and long grip to accommodate two hands.
With a few exceptions and tachi can be distinguished from each other, if signed, by the location of the signature on the tang. In general, the mei should be carved into the side of the nakago which would face outward when the sword was worn. Since a tachi was worn with the cutting edge down, the katana was worn with the cutting edge up, the mei would be in opposite locations on the tang. Western historians have said that katana were among the finest cutting weapons in world military history; the production of swords in Japan is divided into specific time periods: Jōkotō Kotō Shintō Shinshintō Gendaitō Shinsakutō The first use of katana as a word to describe a long sword, different from a tachi occurs as early as the Kamakura Period. These references to "uchigatana" and "tsubagatana" seem to indicate a different style of sword a less costly sword for lower-ranking warriors; the Mongol invasions of Japan facilitated a change in the designs of Japanese swords. Thin tachi and chokutō-style blades were unable to cut through the boiled leather armour of the Mongols, with the blades chipping or breaking off.
The evolution of the tachi into what would become the katana seems to have continued during the early Muromachi period. Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the katana-style mei were made; this was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style". Japanese swords are traditionally worn with the mei facing away from the wearer; when a tachi was worn in the style of a katana, with the cutting edge up, the tachi's signature would be facing the wrong way. The fact that swordsmiths started signing swords with a katana signature shows that some samurai of that time period had started wearing their swords in a different manner; the rise in popularity of katana amongst samurai came about due to the changing nature of close-combat warfare. The quicker draw of the sword was well suited to combat where victory depended on short response times; the katana further facilitated this by being worn thrust through a belt-like sash with the sharpened edge facing up.
Ideally, samurai could strike the enemy in a single motion. The curved tachi had been worn with the edge of the blade facing down and suspended from a belt; the length of the katana blade varied during the course of its history. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, katana blades tended to have lengths between 70 and 73 centimetres. During the early 16th century, the average length dropped about 10 centimetres, approaching closer to 60 centimetres. By the late 16th century, the average length had increased again by about 13 centimetres, returning to 73 centimetres; the katana was paired with a smaller companion sword, such as a wakizashi, or it could be worn with a tantō, a smaller shaped dagger. The pairing of a katana with a smaller sword is called the daishō. Only samurai could wear the daishō: it represented their social power and personal honour. During the Meiji period, the samurai class was disbanded, the special privileges granted to them were taken away, including the right to carry swords in public.
The Haitōrei Edict in 1876 forbade the carrying of swords in public except for certain individuals, such as former samurai lords, the military, the police. Skilled swordsmiths had trouble making a living during this period as Japan modernized its military, many swordsmiths started making other items, such as farm equipment and cutlery. Military action by Japan in China and Russia during the Meiji period helped revive interest in swords, but it was not until the Shōwa period that swords were produced on a large scale again. Japanese military swords produced between 1875 and 1945 are referred to as guntō. During the pre-World War II military buildup, throughout the war, all Japanese officers were required to wear a sword. Traditionally made swords were produced during this period, but in order to supply such large numbers of swords, blacksmiths with little or no knowledge of traditional Japanese sword manufacture were recruited. In
A bokken is a Japanese wooden sword used for training. It is the size and shape of a katana, but is sometimes shaped like other swords, such as the wakizashi and tantō; some ornamental bokken are decorated with elaborate carvings. Sometimes it is spelled "boken" in English. Bokken should not be confused with shinai, practice swords made of flexible bamboo. Bokken were designed to lessen the damage caused by fighting with real swords and were used for the training of samurai warriors in feudal Japan. Bokken became lethal weapons themselves in the hands of trained experts. Miyamoto Musashi, a kenjutsu master, was renowned for fighting armed foes with only one or two bokkens. In a famous legend, he defeated Sasaki Kojiro with a bokken he had carved from an oar while traveling on a boat to the predetermined island for the duel. Although it is hard to determine when the first Bokken appeared due to the nature of secrecy in ancient martial arts training, the oldest Bokken known to have been used as training tools date from the Edo period.
Before the Meiji era, Bokken likely manufactured by woodworkers not specialized in Bokken manufacture. It is at the beginning of the 20th century that Bokken manufacture started in Miyakonojo. Today, the last four workshops of Japan are still located in Miyakonojo; the "standard Bokken" used in Kendo and Aikido was created by master Aramaki in collaboration with the All Japan Kendo Federation in the 50's and was the first standardized Bokken created. The bokken is used as an inexpensive and safe substitute for a real sword in several martial arts such as aikido, iaido and jodo, its simple wooden construction demands less maintenance than a katana. In addition, training with a bokken does not carry the same mortal risk associated with that of a sharp metal sword, both for the user and other practitioners nearby. While its use has several advantages over use of a live edged weapon, it can still be deadly, any training with a bokken should be done with due care. Injuries occurring from bokken are similar to those caused by clubs and similar battering weapons and include compound fractures, ruptured organs, other such blunt force injuries.
In some ways, a bokken can be more dangerous as the injuries caused are unseen and inexperienced practitioners may underestimate the risk of harm. It is not a sparring weapon, but is intended to be used in kata and to acclimate the student to the feel of a real sword. For sparring, a bamboo shinai is used instead for obvious safety reasons. In 2003, the All Japan Kendo Federation introduced a set of basic exercises using a bokuto called Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho; this form of practice is intended for kendo practitioners up to Nidan ranking, but can be beneficial for all kendo students. Suburito are bokken designed for use in suburi. Suburi "bare swinging," are solo cutting exercises. Suburito are thicker and heavier than normal bokken and users of suburito must therefore develop both strength and technique, their weight makes them unsuitable for paired solo forms. One famous user of the suburi-sized bokken is Miyamoto Musashi who used one in his duel against Sasaki Kojiro; as late as 2015, bokken were issued to the Los Angeles Police Mounted Unit for use as batons.
Bokken can be made to represent any style of weapon required such as nagamaki, no-dachi, naginata, etc. The most used styles are: daitō or tachi, long sword shoto or kodachi or wakizashi bo, short sword, tantō bo suburito can be made in daitō and shoto sizesAdditionally, various koryu have their own distinct styles of bokken which can vary in length, tip shape, or in whether or not a tsuba is added; the All Japan Kendo Federation specify the dimensions of bokken for use in the modern kendo kata, called Nippon kendo kata. Tachi: Total length, approx. 102 cm. 24 cm. Kodachi: Total length, approx. 55 cm. 14 cm. Bokken has been depicted in film, manga and comic books. In the film The Last Samurai, the bokken is seen in multiple instances. In one scene a group of children is playing/sparring with them. In the film, Nathan Algren is seen undergoing sword training with a bokken. In Hiroyuki Takei's manga and anime series Shaman King, Umemiya Ryunosuke possesses a wooden sword and uses it as his main weapon, is accordingly known as "Wooden Sword" Ryu.
In the anime "Outlaw Star" Twilight Suzuka utilizes a bokken with immense skill and is able to use it more efficiently than an actual sword. In the anime "Demon City Shinjuku", the hero Kyoya Izayoi wields a bokken which he can infuse with spiritual energy. In the Wolverine limited series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, Wolverine is nearly killed by Shingen Yashida, using a bokken to deliver nerve strikes. In the anime and the manga, Gin Tama, the protagonist, Gintoki Sakata, uses a bokken as his main weapon, his skills with it are powerful enough to overpower real swords. In the anime and manga, Rurouni Kenshin, Kamiya Kaoru uses a bokken as her main weapon. In the anime and light novel series, Toradora!, Aisaka Taiga can be seen wielding a bokken. In the anime and manga, Ranma ½, Kuno Tatewaki wields a bokken and a shinai. In the anime and manga, Highschool of the Dead, Saeko Busujima wield a bokken, she replaces it with a katana in the series. In the anime and manga, Hunter x Hunter, Kurapika wields two wakizashi-sized bokken attached via a rope.
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Japanese swordsmithing is the labour-intensive bladesmithing process developed in Japan for forging traditionally made bladed weapons including katana, tantō, naginata, tachi, nodachi, ōdachi, ya. Japanese sword blades were forged with different profiles, different blade thicknesses, varying amounts of grind. Wakizashi and tantō were not scaled-down katana; the steel used in sword production is known as tamahagane, or "jewel steel". Tamahagane is produced from iron sand, a source of iron ore, used to make Samurai swords, such as the katana, some tools; the smelting process used is different from the modern mass production of steel. A clay vessel about 1.1 m tall, 3 m long, 1.1 m wide is constructed. This is known as a tatara. After the clay tub has set, it is fired until dry. A charcoal fire is started from soft pine charcoal; the smelter will wait for the fire to reach the correct temperature. At that point he will direct the addition of iron sand known as satetsu; this will be layered in with more iron sand over the next 72 hours.
Four or five people need to work on this process. It takes about a week to complete the iron conversion to steel; because the charcoal cannot exceed the melting point of iron, the steel is not able to become molten, this allows both high and low carbon material to be created and separated once cooled. When complete, the Tatara is broken to remove the steel bloom, known as a kera. At the end of the process the tatara will have consumed about 10 short tons of satetsu and 12 short tons of charcoal leaving about 2.5 short tons of kera, from which less than a ton of tamahagane can be produced. A single kera can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, making it many times more expensive than modern steels; the swordsmiths will break the kera apart, separate the various carbon steels. The lowest carbon steel is called hocho-tetsu, used for the shingane of the blade; the high carbon steel and higher carbon pig iron, called nabe-gane, will be forged in alternating layers, using intricate methods to form the hard steel for the edge, called hagane, the springy metal jacket, called kawagane.
The most useful process is the folding, where the metals are forge welded and welded again, as many as 16 times. The folding removes impurities and helps out the carbon content, while the alternating layers combine hardness with ductility to enhance the toughness. Tamahagane is only made three or four times a year by Nittoho and Hitachi Metals during winter in a wood building and is only sold to the master swordsmiths to use once it is made; the forging of a Japanese blade took many days or weeks, was considered a sacred art, traditionally accompanied by a large panoply of Shinto religious rituals. As with many complex endeavors, rather than a single craftsman, several artists were involved. There was a smith to forge the rough shape a second smith to fold the metal, a specialist polisher, a specialist for the edge itself. There were sheath and handguard specialists as well; the steel bloom, or kera, produced in the tatara contains steel that varies in carbon content, ranging from wrought iron to pig iron.
Three types of steel are chosen for the blade. The high carbon steel, the remelted pig iron, are combined to form the outer skin of the blade. Only about 1/3 of the kera produces steel, suitable for sword production; the best known part of the manufacturing process is the folding of the steel, where the swords are made by heating and folding the metal. The process of folding metal to improve strength and remove impurities is attributed to specific Japanese smiths in legends. In traditional Japanese sword making, the low-carbon iron is folded several times by itself, to purify it; this produces the soft metal to be used for the core of the blade. The high-carbon steel and the higher-carbon cast-iron are forged in alternating layers; the cast-iron is heated, quenched in water, broken into small pieces to help free it from slag. The steel is forged into a single plate, the pieces of cast-iron are piled on top, the whole thing is forge welded into a single billet, called the age-kitae process; the billet is elongated, cut and forge welded again.
The steel can be folded transversely, or longitudinally. Both folding directions are used to produce the desired grain pattern; this process, called the shita-kitae, is repeated from 8 to as many as 16 times. After 20 foldings, there is too much diffusion in the carbon content; the steel becomes homogeneous in this respect, the act of folding no longer gives any benefit to the steel. Depending on the amount of carbon introduced, this process forms either the hard steel for the edge, or the less hardenable spring steel, used for the sides and the back. During the last few foldings, the steel may be forged into several thin plates and forge welded into a brick; the grain of the steel is positioned between adjacent layers, with the exact configuration
A tachi was a type of traditionally made Japanese sword worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. Tachi and katana differ in length, degree of curvature, how they were worn when sheathed, the latter depending on the location of the mei, or signature, on the tang; the tachi style of swords preceded the development of the katana, not mentioned by name until near the end of the twelfth century. The production of swords in Japan is divided into specific time periods: Jōkotō Kotō Shintō Shinshintō Gendaitō Shinsakutō Authentic tachi were forged during the Kotō period, before 1596; the tachi preceded the katana. With a few exceptions and tachi can be distinguished from each other if signed by the location of the signature on the tang. In general the signature should be carved into the side of the tang that would face outward when the sword was worn on the wielder's left waist. Since a tachi was worn cutting edge down, the katana was worn cutting edge up the mei would be in opposite locations on the tang of both types of swords.
An authentic tachi, manufactured in the correct time period averaged 70–80 centimeters in cutting edge length and compared to a katana was lighter in weight in proportion to its length, had a greater taper from hilt to point, was more curved with a smaller point area. Unlike the traditional manner of wearing the katana, the tachi was worn hung from the belt with the cutting-edge down, was most effective when used by cavalry. Deviations from the average length of tachi have the prefixes ko- for "short" and ō- for "great, large" attached. For instance, tachi that were shōtō and closer in size to a wakizashi were called kodachi; the longest tachi in existence is more than 3.7 metres in total length with a 2.2 metres blade, but believed to be ceremonial. In the late 1500s and early 1600s many old surviving tachi blades were converted into katana by having their original tangs cut, which meant the signatures were removed from the swords. For a sword to be worn in "tachi style" it needed to be mounted in a tachi koshirae.
The tachi koshirae had two hangers which allowed the sword to be worn in a horizontal position with the cutting edge down. A sword not mounted in a tachi koshirae could be worn tachi style by use of a koshiate, a leather device which would allow any sword to be worn in the tachi style. According to author Karl F. Friday, before the 13th century there are no written references or drawings etc. that show swords of any kind were used while on horseback. The uchigatana was derived from the tachi and was the predecessor to the katana as the battlesword of feudal Japan's bushi, as it evolved into the design, the tachi and the uchigatana were differentiated from each other only by how they were worn, the fittings for the blades, the location of the signature; as a result of the first Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274, tachi started to be made thicker and wider. In Japanese feudal history, during the Sengoku and Edo periods, certain high-ranking warriors of what became the ruling class would wear their sword tachi-style, rather than with the scabbard thrust through the belt with the edge upward.
With the rising of statism in Shōwa Japan, the Imperial Japanese Army and the Imperial Japanese Navy implemented swords called shin and kaiguntō, which were worn tachi style. Japanese sword Katana Uchigatana Tenka-Goken - five best swords in Japan. All of the five are classified as tachi. Richard Stein's Japanese sword guide
The chokutō is a straight, one-edged Japanese sword, produced prior to the 9th century. Its basic style is derived from similar swords of ancient China. Chokutō were worn hung from the waist; until the Heian period such swords were called tachi, which should not be confused with tachi written as 太刀 referring to curved swords. The production of swords in Japan is divided into specific time periods: Jokoto Koto Shinto Shinshinto Gendaito Shinsakuto Chokutō was among the earliest in the history of Japanese sword-forging as its basic style and forging techniques originated in ancient China and were brought to Japan by way of Korea in the 3rd centuries, it was created before the development of differential tempering in Japanese swordsmithing. Chokutō come in hira-zukuri and kiriha-zukuri tsukurikomi which make them distinct from tachi and katana which use these forms; the distinctive feature of the chokutō is the straight blade, similar to the ancient Chinese swords found in China around the 2nd century BCE to the 10th century CE.
Though curved blades are as old as the sword itself, they did not become widespread in Asia and the Middle East until after the dominance of the Mongol Empire. Japanese warriors of the Kamakura Shogunate experienced the effectiveness and lethality of curved blades firsthand during the Mongol invasions of Japan. Rudimentary forms what would become the tachi began to eclipse the chokutō in popularity as the curved blades demonstrated greater ease of handling and lethality in mounted combat. Few examples of chokutō mountings remain, although enough to reconstruct their various typologies which always followed Chinese and Korean models. Japanese sword Tsurugi
Battles of Kawanakajima
The battles of Kawanakajima were fought in the Sengoku period of Japan between Takeda Shingen of Kai Province and Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo Province in the plain of Kawanakajima, Nagano, "the island between the rivers", in the north of Shinano Province. The location is in the southern part of the present-day city of Nagano. Five major battles took place there: Fuse in 1553, Saigawa in 1555, Uenohara in 1557, Hachimanbara in 1561, Shiozaki in 1564; the best known and most severe among them was fought on October 18, 1561, was only fought in the heart of the Kawanakajima plain, thus being the "battle of Kawanakajima". The battles were fought after Shingen conquered Shinano, expelling Ogasawara Nagatoki and Murakami Yoshikiyo, who subsequently turned to Kenshin for help; the battles became one of the most cherished tales in Japanese military history, the epitome of Japanese chivalry and romance, mentioned in epic literature, woodblock printing and movies. The battles were part of the 16th-century Sengoku period known as the "Age of Civil War", were little different from other conflicts.
After the Ōnin War, the shōgun's system and taxation had less control outside the province of the capital in Kyoto, powerful lords began to assert themselves. Such lords gained power by usurpation, warfare or marriage—any means that would safeguard their position, it was manifested in yamajiro. In 1541 Shingen began his conquest of Shinano Province. In 1550 Shingen advanced once again into Shinano and conquered Hayashi Castle and Fukashi Castle by siege; these had been controlled by Ogasawara Nagatoki. In October 1550 Shingen began the Sieges of Toishi Castle, from which position he intended to carry out the final attack on the main Murakami castle of Katsurao. However, in November the siege was abandoned and Shingen's army was counterattacked by Murakami, routed; the following year, Murakami was forced to leave the castle and the successful Siege of Katsurao ensued. The first battle of Kawanakajima known as the "Battle of Fuse", was fought in 1553. Although regarded as the first battle, it is related to the two battles of Hachiman fought in the same year south of the plain.
Twelve days after taking Katsurao Castle, Shingen penetrated far into the Kawanakajima plain along the eastern bank of the Chikumagawa River. Uesugi Kenshin marched up the western bank to support Murakami Yoshikiyo, the two armies encountered each other at a shrine of Hachiman on June 3, 1553. After Takeda withdrew, Uesugi continued his march and laid siege to Katsura, but was unable to capture it. In September Takeda returned to crush the remaining Murakami forces around Shioda. Wada was taken on September Takashima on the 10th. In both cases the entire garrison was put to death as a warning to other Murakami holdouts. Murakami Yoshikiyo retreated from Shioda on 12 September and about 16 of the clan's outposts in Shinano surrendered to Takeda. Shingen pursued Yoshikyo across the Chikumagawa River but was turned back by Kenshin's reinforcements at the Battle of Fuse. Kenshin pursued Shingen; the victorious Uesugi forces went on take Arato castle before winter forced both sides to disengage. From August to November 1555 the second battle of Kawanakajima known as the "Battle of Saigawa", began when Takeda Shingen returned to Kawanakajima, advancing up to the Sai River.
He made camp on a hill to the south of the river, while Uesugi Kenshin was camped just east of the Zenkō-ji temple, which provided him an excellent view of the plain. However, the Kurita clan, allies of the Takeda, held Asahiyama fortress a few kilometers to the west. Kurita Kakuju's defenses were bolstered by 3,000 Takeda warriors, of whom 800 were archers and 300 arquebusiers; the main battle was shadowed by the number of Kenshin's attacks against the Asahiyama fortress, but all were repulsed. He moved his army onto the plain, redirecting his attention on Takeda's main force. However, rather than attacking, both armies waited, for the other to make a move. Battle was avoided as both leaders retired to deal with domestic affairs in their home provinces; the peace was mediated by Imagawa Yoshimoto. The third battle known as the "Battle of Uenohara", took place in 1557 when Takeda Shingen captured a fortress called Katsurayama, overlooking the Zenkō-ji temple from the northwest, he attempted to take Iiyama castle, but withdrew after Uesugi Kenshin led an army out of Zenkō-ji.
Of the four, this battle took place furthest from the Kawanakajima plain. The fourth battle resulted in greater casualties for both sides, as a percentage of total forces, than any other battle in the Sengoku period and is, according to Turnbull, one of the most tactically interesting battles of the period. After besieging the Hōjō Ujiyasu's Odawara castle, Uesugi Kenshin was forced to withdraw after hearing rumors about the movement of Takeda Shingen's army. In September 1561 Kenshin left his Kasugayama Castle with 18,000 warriors, determined to destroy Shingen, he left some of his forces at Zenkō-ji but took up a position on Saijoyama, a mountain to the west of, looking down upon, Shingen's Kaizu castle. To Kenshin's ignorance, the Kaizu castle contained no more than 150 samurai and their followers and he had taken them by surprise. However, the general in command of the castle, Kosaka Masanobu, through a system of signal fires, informed his lord, in Tsutsujigasaki fortress, 130 km away in Kōfu, of Kenshin's move.
Shingen left Kōfu with 16,000 men, acquiring 4,000 more as he traveled through Shinano
The Kabutowari known as hachiwari, was a type of knife-shaped weapon, resembling a jitte in many respects. This weapon was carried as a side-arm by the samurai class of feudal Japan. Kabutowari were around 35cm long. There were two types of kabutowari: truncheon-type; the dirk-type was forged with a sharp dirk-like point, which could be used to parry an opponent's sword, to hook the cords of armor or a helmet, or like a can opener to separate armor plates. The sharp point could pierce weak areas of an opponent's armor like the armpit area; the blade of this type of kabutowari was a curved tapered square iron or steel bar with a hook on its back edge. In combat, one could catch a blade with that hook, as with a jitte; some kabutowari of this type were mounted in the style of a tanto with a koshirae. The truncheon-type was blunt, cast iron or forged truncheon-like weapon resembling a tekkan or a jitte; this type of kabutowari had the same basic shape as the dirk-type kabutowari including the hook, but it was blunt and not meant for stabbing.
It would appear, according to Serge Mol, that tales of samurai breaking open a kabuto are more folklore than anything else. The hachi is the central component of a kabuto; this would require enormous pressure to split open. This idea that the kabutowari was somehow able to smash or damage a helmet kabuto is most a misinterpretation of the name which could have several meanings, as hachi could mean skull or helmet bowl and wari could mean, rip, crack or smash. In modern times there is no ryū known to train with kabutowari, although certain dojos within Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu still train with them, as an extension of jittejutsu. A number of weapons retailers in Japan still sell usable kabutowari. Hachiwara Defensive Weapons of the Samurai