For thousands of years, the Samurai swords have become something much more than just a weapon of war that was originally created for this purpose. The sword has reached a legendary status due to its role during Japan’s violent warring history, and even in this modern day and age, the legend of the sword still continues. When one sees the sword, all imagination fires up especially when these weapons are seen in films, shows, and even in animation; yet for those individuals who have tried utilizing the weapon itself, it goes beyond being just a magnificent work of art and becomes a tool that crafts a person from inside and out.
When it comes to using and learning about the samurai swords, it becomes a medium to open an individual’s mind to focus, discipline, illumination, and introspection – these being the true legendary status of the Samurai swords and what it is truly based on. The study of the Samurai sword has been the goal of a lot of individuals to achieve illumination and to help society through art, calligraphy, as well as philosophy; the most notable and famous example would be Miyamoto Musashi, Japan’s most revered swordsman in history. The Samurai sword has not only aided a lot of individuals to delve deeper into other areas of study, but it is also known as one of the sacred insignias that symbolize the nation’s mythical formation.
The Samurai Swords
The nihonto is among the many traditionally made Japanese swords that have been created starting from the years 250 A.D. to 538 A.D. of the Kofun period. Curved blades have started to appear during the Heian period and the appearance, as well as the sizes of swords also began to alter. Throughout history, different types of swords have been created during battle, yet the most common Japanese Samurai swords would be the Katana, Wakizashi, and also the Tachi.
When an individual carries the Wakizashi together with the Katana, it was a sign that the wielder was a Samurai warrior of feudal Japan; carrying these samurai swords together were called the Daisho which literally translates to big little. Here, the Katana would be the big sword while the Wakizashi would be the small or companion sword; and although this is the case, the Wakizashi are not just the similar version of the Samurai Katana since these weapons can be differently forged while also having a different cross-section.
In Japanese history, the Katana was one of the traditional Japanese swords that were utilized by the Samurai warriors of the ancient warring period of Japan. The Katana is represented by its unique appearance which features an arched, single-edged blade with a tsuba that is either round or square in shape; it also features a lengthy tsuka that can readily accommodate two hands for gripping the sword adequately.
The common length of a Katana’s blade is usually around sixty centimeters or greater and there are other characteristics of this sword that can be used to distinguish it from the Tachi; to determine this, one should check if the weapon is signed, where the mei is located on the weapon’s tang (the Nakago). Generally, the mei is carved right into the tang’s side which faces outward when the sword is carried; keep in mind that the Tachi is carried with its cutting edge facing down while the Katana with its cutting edge up. So with that, the mei should appear in the opposite directions on the tang. Numerous historians claim that the Katana was one of the finest and best slicing weapons in the world of military history.
The Wakizashi is among the known Samurai swords that feature a blade with a length of about thirty to sixty centimeters. A Wakizashi that is close to the size of the Katana is called the O-Wakizashi while that closer to the Tanto is the Ko-Wakizashi. These weapons were primarily utilized as backup swords as well as tools for decapitating defeated enemies; it is also sometimes used to commit seppuku which is a ritual suicide. Because of this, foreigners also referred to the Wakizashi as the Honor Blade.
This was also one of the few short weapons that were available for the Samurai to utilize and this also included the Tanto, the Yoroi-Toshi, and the Chisa-Katana. The word Wakizashi did not directly characterize swords with a specific blade length, but was instead, an abbreviation of the words “sword thrust / kept on one’s side”. Until 1639 during the Edo period, the rulers of the country attempted to control the types of swords, as well as the social groups who were allowed to wield these and also, the lengths of the Wakizashi and the Katana were then officially set.
The Tachi were also traditionally-created Japanese nihontos that were forged before 1596 during the Koto period and these were samurai swords that preceded the creation of the Katana. These weapons are carried with the cutting edge faced down which is opposite with how the Katana is being carried. An authentic Tachi that has been manufactured correctly and at the right period should feature a blade length of about seventy to eighty centimeters in Nagasa (cutting edge length); when it is compared to the Katana, the Tachi is generally lighter and it is somehow more proportion to its length; plus, it also has a much better taper from its point to the hilt and is more arched with a much smaller point area.
In history, when the many Japanese daimyos met, they would not only converse about important matters but would admire each and everyone’s finely made collection of high-quality swords that they take with them at all times. From the earliest and longest recorded times, the extraordinary quality of the traditional Japanese nihonto were not only known for their excellence for battle, but these were also admired and prized by many. This is because the care, preciseness, as well as the technical skill that was put into the development of these Samurai swords made the finished product not only a very remarkable tool of war but also became a beautiful preserved work of art.