How to wrap a katana handle

Written by rob kemmett
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How to wrap a katana handle
Wrapping a katana handle not only provides grip, but it adds style as well. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Katana swords are long sabres that have been used throughout Japanese history. Wrapping the handle of a katana, an art known as "tsukamaki", is also a Japanese tradition. Katana handles are traditionally wrapped in Ito, which is a fine silk thread that is woven into thick strands. Perfecting the art of tsukamaki takes years of practice, but with a few simple directions, even beginners can wrap a katana handle.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Ito
  • Scissors
  • Glue

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  1. 1

    Fold the Ito so both ends are touching. Hold the two ends between two of your fingers and let the Ito hang. Locate the middle of the Ito, which is the middle of the small loop that forms.

  2. 2

    Place the middle portion of the Ito underneath the fuchi (the lip at the top of the handle) and press it flat against the float side of the tsuka (the handle).

  3. 3

    Pull the Ito taut and wrap it around the handle so the Ito touches on the opposite side.

  4. 4

    Twist one end of the Ito between your finger so the side touching the handle now faces away from the handle. Twist it once more, in the same direction, so the side originally touching the handle now touches the handle again. Hold the twisted portion of Ito against the handle with your fingers.

  5. 5

    Twist the other end of the Ito in the same manner using your free hand. Pull the Ito taut and wrap it over the other twisted portion so the two twisted portions form an "X" pattern.

  6. 6

    Wrap both ends of the Ito around the handle until the ends meet back at the "X" pattern. Rest the Ito just underneath the "X" pattern so it covers a new portion of the handle.

  7. 7

    Repeat the twisting process with both ends of the Ito to form an "X" pattern, wrapping the Ito around the handle after making each "X." Drop down one width of Ito after each wrap until the entire handle is covered and wrapped. Make sure the Ito is taut throughout the whole process.

  8. 8

    Tie the two ends of the Ito together in the knot of your choice, pulling the Ito taut so the knot is flush against the handle.

  9. 9

    Cut the excess Ito with scissors.

  10. 10

    Apply glue to the underside of the knot to help it stay in place.

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