The naginata is one of several varieties of traditionally made Japanese blades in the form of a pole weapon. Naginata were used by the samurai class of feudal Japan, as well as by ashigaru and sōhei; the naginata is the iconic weapon of the onna-bugeisha-archetype, a type of female warrior belonging to the Japanese nobility. Naginata for fighting men and warrior monks were ō-naginata; the kind used by women was called ko-naginata. Since the naginata with its pole is heavier and much slower than the Japanese sword, the blade of the ko-naginata was smaller than the male warrior's ō-naginata in order to compensate for the lesser height and upper body strength of a woman than an armoured male samurai. A naginata consists of a wooden or metal pole with a curved single-edged blade on the end. Similar to the katana, naginata have a round handguard between the blade and shaft, when mounted in a koshirae; the 30 cm to 60 cm long naginata blade is forged in the same manner as traditional Japanese swords.
The blade has a long tang, inserted in the shaft. The blade is removable and is secured by means of a wooden peg called mekugi that passes through a hole in both the tang and the shaft; the shaft is oval shaped. The area of the shaft where the tang sits is the tachiuke; the tachiuchi/tachiuke would be reinforced with metal rings, and/or metal sleeves and wrapped with cord. The end of the shaft has a heavy metal end cap; when not in use the blade would be covered with a wooden sheath. The naginata was developed from an earlier weapon type of the 1st millennium AD, the hoko yari. It's difficult to tell. Though claimed as being invented by the sōhei during the Nara period, physical evidence of their existence dates only from the mid-Kamakura period, earlier literary sources are ambiguous; the earliest clear references to naginata date from 1146 in the late Heian period, with one suggesting that the weapon may have been recent. Earlier 10th through 12th century sources refer to "long swords" that while a common medieval term or orthography for naginata, could simply be referring to conventional swords.
Some 11th and 12th century mentions of hoko may have been referring to naginata. The assumed association of the naginata and the sōhei is unclear. Artwork from the late-13th and 14th centuries depict the sōhei with naginata but don't appear to place any special significance to it: the weapons appear as just part of a number of others carried by the monks, are used by samurai and commoners as well. Depictions of naginata-armed sōhei in earlier periods were created centuries after the fact, are using the naginata as a symbol to distinguish the sōhei from other warriors, rather than giving an accurate portrayal of the events. During the Genpei War, in which the Taira clan was pitted against the Minamoto clan, the naginata rose to a position of high esteem, being regarded as an effective weapon by warriors. Cavalry battles had become more important by this time, the naginata proved excellent at dismounting cavalry and disabling riders; the widespread adoption of the naginata as a battlefield weapon forced the introduction of greaves as a part of Japanese armor.
The rise of importance for the naginata can be seen as being mirrored by the European pike, another long pole weapon employed against cavalry. The introduction in 1543 of firearms in the form of the matchlock caused a great decrease in the appearance of the naginata on the battlefield; as battlefield tactics changed, the yari took the place of the naginata as the pole weapon of choice. During the Edo Period, as the naginata became less useful for men on the battlefield, it became a symbol of the social status of women. A functional naginata was a traditional part of a samurai daughter's dowry. Although they did not fight as normal soldiers, women of the samurai class were expected to be capable of defending their homes while their husbands were away at war; the naginata was considered one of the weapons most suitable for women, since it allows a woman to keep opponents at a distance, where any advantages in height and upper body strength would be lessened. An excellent example of the role of women in Japanese martial culture is Hangaku Gozen, famous for her naginata skills, led the garrison of 3,000 warriors stationed at Toeizakayama castle.
Ten thousand Hōjō clan warriors were dispatched to take the castle, Hangaku led her troops out of the castle, killing a significant number of the attackers before being overpowered. The naginata saw its final uses in combat in 1868, at Aizu, in 1876, in Satsuma. Due to the influence of Westernization, after the Meiji Restoration the perceived value of martial arts, the naginata included, dropped severely, it was from this time that the focus of training became the strengthening of the will and the forging of the mind and body. During the Showa period, naginata training became a part of the public school system in 1912, it "remains a staple of girls’ physical education"Since World War II, naginata has been practiced as a sport with a particular emphasis on etiquette and discipline, rather than as military training. Although associated with smaller numbers of practitioners, a number of "koryu bujutsu" systems (tradit
Kabuto is a type of helmet first used by ancient Japanese warriors, in periods, they became an important part of the traditional Japanese armour worn by the samurai class and their retainers in feudal Japan. Note that in Japanese language the word kabuto is an appellative, not a type description, can refer to any combat helmet. Japanese helmets dating from the fifth century have been found in excavated tombs. Called mabizashi-tsuke kabuto, the style of these kabuto came from China and Korea and they had a pronounced central ridge; the kabuto was an important part of the equipment of the samurai, played a symbolic role as well, which may explain the Japanese expressions and codes related to them. One example is Katte kabuto no o o shimeyo; this means don't lower your efforts after succeeding. Kabuto o nugu means to surrender. Media related to Kabuto at Wikimedia Commons The basic parts of the kabuto include: Hachi, a dome composed of overlapping elongated plates called tate hagi-no-ita Tehen, a small opening at the top of the hachi fitted with a tehen kanamono Mabizashi, a brim or visor on the front of the hachi Ukebari, a cloth lining inside the hachi Tsunamoto, mounting points for attaching crests Kasa jirushi no kan, a ring at the back of the hachi for securing a kasa jirushi Fukigaeshi, wing-like or ear-like projections to the sides of the hachi Shikoro, a suspended neck guard composed of multiple overlapping lames Shinobi-no-o used to secure the mengu A typical kabuto features a central dome constructed of anywhere from three to over a hundred metal plates riveted together.
These were arranged vertically, radiating from a small opening in the top. The rivets securing these metal plates to each other could be hammered flat; some of the finer hachi were signed by their makers from one of several known families, such as the Myochin, Haruta, Unkai, or Nagasone families. A small opening in the top of the kabuto, called the tehen or hachimanza, was thought to be for passing the warrior's top knot through. Although this practice was abandoned after the Muromachi period, this opening may have been retained for purposes of ventilation or as an artifact of how the plates were riveted together; the tehen was decorated with tehen kanamono, which were rings of intricately worked, soft metal bands resembling a chrysanthemum. Zunari kabuto and momonari kabuto were two helmet forms that did not have an opening at the top. Kabuto incorporated a suspended neck guard called a shikoro composed of three to seven semicircular, lacquered metal or oxhide lames and articulated by silk or leather lacing, although some shikoro were composed of 100 or more small metal scales in a row.
This lamellar armour style, along with kusari, was the standard technology of Japanese body armour, some shikoro were made of mail sewn to a cloth lining. The kabuto was secured to the head by a chin cord called shinobi-no-o, which would be tied to posts or hooks on the mengu or tied under the chin. Kabuto are adorned with crests called datemono or tatemono; these can be family crests, or flat or sculptural objects representing animals, mythical entities, prayers or other symbols. Horns are common, many kabuto incorporate kuwagata, stylized deer horns. Suji bachi kabuto is a multiple-plate type of Japanese helmet with raised ridges or ribs showing where the helmet plates come together. Hoshi-bachi kabuto with protruding rivet heads, have large rivets, small rivets and a rivet with a chrysantemoid-shaped washer at its base. Hoshi-bachi kabuto could be suji bachi kabuto if there were raised ribs or ridges showing where the helmet plates came together. Hari bachi kabuto is multiple-plate Japanese hachi with no ribs or ridges showing where the helmet plates come and the rivets are filed flush.
The zunari kabuto is a five-plate design. A great number of simpler, folding, portable armours for lower-ranking samurai and foot soldiers were produced; these were called tatami armour, some featured collapsible tatami kabuto, made from articulated lames. Tatami kabuto did not use rivets in their construction. Kaji kabuto were a type of helmet worn by firemen. Jingasa were war hats made in a variety of shapes, worn by ashigaru and samurai, which could be made from leather or metal. During the Momoyama period of intense civil warfare, kabuto were made to a simpler design of three or four plates, lacking many of the ornamental features of earlier helmets. To offset the plain, utilitarian form of the new helmet, to provide visibility and presence on the battlefield, armorers began to build fantastic shapes on top of the simple helmets in harikake, though some were constructed of iron; these shape
Karuta was a type of armour worn by samurai warriors and their retainers during the feudal era of Japan. The word karuta comes from the Portuguese word meaning "card", as the small square or rectangular plates that compose the armour resemble traditional Japanese playing cards. Karuta armor is a form of lightweight, folding armor known as "tatami"; the "karuta" are small square or rectangle plates of iron or leather connected to each other by kusari or laced to each other, with the plates sewn to a cloth backing, individual karuta armour plates could be sewn directly to a cloth backing without being connected to each other. Chest armor was made from karuta. Karuta jackets were made. Various other parts of armor were made from karuta including thigh guards, shoulder guards and karuta hoods. Karuta armor was worn by all classes of samurai the foot soldiers. High quality armor was more elaborate and ornate, while the lower quality sets of armor were plain but offered basic protection. Small amounts of karuta armor plates could be added in certain locations to different styles of samurai armor where extra protection was needed.
If the majority of the suit of armor was made from karuta it is considered karuta armor. Ian Bottomley, in his book Arms and Armor of the Samurai: The History of Weaponry in Ancient Japan, shows a karuta breastplate and a karuta helmet. Japanese armour Tatami Kusari Kikko Plated mail Anthony Bryant's online Japanese armour manual
Guntō is a Japanese sword produced for use by the Japanese army and navy after the end of the samurai era in 1868. In the following era, samurai armour and ideals were replaced with Western-influenced uniforms and tactics. Japan developed a conscription military in 1872 and the samurai lost the status they had held for hundreds of years as the protectors of Japan; the transition from hand-made blades to machined-assisted creations was hastening. Early in the production of guntō swords and artistic additions continued, but fell into heavy decline following Japan-wide increases in mass production. Thus, guntō swords became the standard in the new military, transitioning the swords worn by the samurai class to an advancing battlefield. During the Meiji period, the samurai class was disbanded, the Haitōrei Edict in 1876 forbade the carrying of swords in public except for certain individuals such as former samurai lords, the military and police. Skilled swordsmiths had trouble making a living during this period as Japan modernized its military and many swordsmiths started making other items such as cutlery.
Military action by Japan in China and Russia during the Meiji Period helped revive the manufacture of swords and in the Shōwa period before and during World War II swords were once again produced on a large scale. During the pre World War II military buildup and 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 addition, supplies of the type of Japanese steel used for sword making were limited so several other types of steel were substituted. Shortcuts in forging were taken, such as the use of power hammers and tempering the blade in oil rather than hand forging and water tempering; the non-traditionally made swords from this period are called Shōwatō and, in 1937, the Japanese government started requiring the use of special stamps on the tang to distinguish these swords from traditionally made swords.
During this wartime period antique swords from older time periods were remounted for use in military mounts. Presently in Japan showato are not considered to be true Japanese swords and they can be confiscated; the first standard sword of the Japanese military was known as the kyū guntō. Murata Tsuneyoshi, a Japanese general who made guns, started making what was the first mass-produced substitute for traditionally made samurai swords; these swords are referred to as Murata-tō and they were used in both the Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War. The kyū guntō was used from 1875 until 1934, many styles resembled European and American swords of the time, with a wraparound hand guard and chrome plated scabbard, the steel scabbard is said to have been introduced around 1900. Prior to 1945, many kyū guntō were distributed to commissioned officers to fill a demand for swords to Japan's expanding military officer classes. To distinguish individuality, wealth or craftsmanship, many swords were produced in batches as small as 1–25 to maintain the legacy of sword culture.
Styles varied with inspirations drawn from swords of early periods, familial crests, experimental artistic forms that the Meiji Restoration period had begun to introduce. Some examples have included European style silverworking, cloisonné, or metalwork and paint for artistic relief. After the Second World War's conclusion, most produced guntō were made to resemble the traditionally cloth wrapped shin-gunto swords, but out of a solid metal casting. On models the hilts were made of aluminum and painted to resemble the lacing on officer's shin-guntō swords; these swords are nearly always machine made. If the sword is all original, the serial numbers on the blade, tsuba and all other parts should match; the shin guntō was a weapon and symbol of rank used by the Imperial Japanese Army between the years of 1935 and 1945. During most of that period, the swords were manufactured at the Toyokawa Naval Arsenal. In response to rising nationalism within the armed forces, a new style of sword was designed for the Japanese military in 1934.
The shin guntō was styled after a traditional slung tachi of the Kamakura Period. Officers' ranks were indicated by coloured tassels tied to a loop at the end of the hilt; the corresponding colors were gold for generals. The blades found in shin guntō ranged from modern machine made blades through contemporary traditionally-manufactured blades to ancestral blades dating back hundreds of years; the Type 94 shin guntō officers' sword replaced the Western style kyu gunto in 1934. It had a traditionally constructed hilt with ray skin wrapped with traditional silk wrapping. A cherry blossom theme was incorporated into the guard and ornaments; the scabbard for the Type 94 was made of metal with a wood lining to protect the blade. It was painted brown and was suspended from two brass mounts, one of, removable and only used when in full dress u
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
The wakizashi is one of the traditionally made Japanese swords worn by the samurai in feudal Japan. The wakizashi has a blade between 30 and 60 cm, with wakizashi close to the length of a katana being called ō-wakizashi and wakizashi closer to tantō length being called kō-wakizashi; the wakizashi being worn together with the katana was the official sign that the wearer was a samurai or swordsman. When worn together the pair of swords were called daishō, which translates as "big-little"; the katana was the wakizashi the "little" or companion sword. Wakizashi are not just a smaller version of the katana; the production of swords in Japan is divided into specific time periods: Jokotō Kotō Shintō Shinshintō Gendaitō Shinsakutō Wakizashi have been in use as far back as the 15th or 16th century. The wakizashi was used as a auxiliary sword; the wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi tōshi, the chisa-katana. The term wakizashi did not specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of wakizashi no katana.
It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were set. Kanzan Satō, in his book titled The Japanese Sword, notes that there did not seem to be any particular need for the wakizashi and suggests that the wakizashi may have become more popular than the tantō due to it being more suited for indoor fighting, he mentions the custom of leaving the katana at the door of a castle or palace when entering while continuing to wear the wakizashi inside. While the wearing of katana was limited to the samurai class, wakizashi of legal length could be carried by the chonin class which included merchants; this was common. Wakizashi were worn on the left side, secured to the waist sash. Richard Stein's Japanese sword guide Wakizashi Japanese Sword
The yoroi-dōshi, "armor piercer" or "mail piercer", were one of the traditionally made Japanese swords that were worn by the samurai class as a weapon in feudal Japan. The yoroi-dōshi is an extra thick tantō, a long knife, which appeared in the Sengoku period of the 14th and 15th centuries; the yoroi-dōshi was made for stabbing while grappling in close quarters. The weapon ranged in size from 20 cm to 22 cm, but some examples could be under 15 cm, with a "tapering mihaba, iori-mune, thick kasane at the bottom, thin kasane at the top and moroha-zukuri construction"; the motogasane at the hamachi can be up to a half-inch thick, characteristic of the yoroi-dōshi. The extra thickness at the spine of the blade distinguishes the yoroi-dōshi from a standard tantō blade. Yoroi-dōshi were worn inside the belt on the back or on the right side with the hilt toward the front and the edge upward. Due to being worn on the right, the blade would have been drawn using the left hand, giving rise to the alternate name of metezashi, or "horse-hand blade".
Japanese sword Otoya Yamaguchi Tantō Wakizashi Stone, George Cameron. A Glossary of the Construction and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. P. 678. ISBN 0-486-40726-8. Nihontō message board forum Richard Stein's Japanese sword guide