The Parts of the Samurai Sword

Written by valli schieltz
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The Parts of the Samurai Sword
Every Samurai sword that is crafted is different. (samurai image by Andrey Kiselev from

The Samurai sword was known to be the deadliest Japanese weapon used by the high-ranked warriors during war. These swords are meticulously decorated and well crafted. You will not find any two Samurai swords made exactly alike, as a Samurai sword represents its owner. Samurai sword-making is believed to be sacred. Therefore, only craftsmen and blade smiths who worked for elite and royals of society were allowed to forge and create the Samurai sword.

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This is the knob or pommel found at the sword handle's bottom.


The hilt or handle, which is wrapped tightly with a cloth, is known as a tsukaito. Tsukamaki is called the art of wrapping the sword's hilt. This requires attention to details, patience and persistence. The materials needed for this art are the cloth, the tsuka, glue and paper.


This is an additional wrapping under the handle of the samurai sword or tsukaito. This is made of a stingray skin or samekawa. Sometimes shark skin is used.


Under the tsukaito you can see small ornaments or sculptures, usually animals, that are on top of the samekawa. This typically signifies the character of the owner of the sword. Today Menuki are the main decorations on the samurai sword.


These are bamboo pegs that work like screws to keep the tang or nakago in place under the sword's handle. These pegs are durable but should exhibit flexibility so they do not break in case the sword is hit.


The nakago is the tang of the samurai sword, or the blade section that is held within the tsuka by the mekugi pegs. To make a strong sword you need a full tang.


The tsuka are locked together by metal sleeves called the fuchi.


Seppa come in pairs, look similar to metal washers and serve as spacers on the hand guard's sides. These allow for adjustment of the handle's tightness.


The hand guard is named the tsuba. It is artfully crafted by dynasties and clans of tsuba makers. The tsuba separates the blade from the sword's handle and protects the warrior's hand.


The habaki is a square metal collar at the blade's base and connected to the tsuba. This part adds stability to the sword and keeps all of its parts tightly together.


This is the blade of the Japanese Samurai sword and is made by a Japanese sword smith's traditional process. Only carbon steel of the highest quality is used to make the Japanese Samurai swords. Forging a sword took a long time of forging and included repeated heating, hammering, folding, quenching, tempering and clay coating until all of the other parts of the sword were installed.

Forging assures that no two Samurai swords are made exactly the same because each sword is made for a particular person or samurai. Today forging is not practised much due to commercialisation and mass production of swords.

Different parts make up the blade: the hamon whose pattern should be unpredictable; the yaiba, which should cut with little effort; the kissaki, which is the Samurai sword's rounded tip.

The saya is the scabbard traditionally made of honoki wood. The sageo is a belt cord that secures the saya to the waistband.

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