Japanese Sword Parts

The Tsuka or Hilt

Boshi

The continuation of the hamon pattern onto the kissaki (tip).

Fuchi-gane

The "hilt collar." A metal, often decorative piece between the tsuka-ito and the seppa.

Fukura

The curvature of the cutting edge in the kissaki (tip).

Ha

The tempered side of the blade. During the quenching process, this side of the blade has less clay painted on it, thus it cools faster and forms a harder steel. The hasaki (cutting edge) is found on this side of the blade. Also called the yakiba.

Hasaki

The sharp edge of the blade. Made with a higher carbon steel than the back side of the blade, it is harder and can be sharpened to a finer edge than low carbon steel. It is brittle however and should only be used for cutting, and not blocking.

Habaki

A bronze wedge shaped part at the base of the blade. Designed to fit snugly into the saya so that the sword will not fall out even if tilted downward.

Habuchi

Line separating the tempered area from the hiraji. Often referred to as the transition area between the two types of steel with the hamon being defined as the actual line, though this is less common.

Hamon

The "blade pattern." A pattern running the length of the blade separating the yakiba and the rest of the sword that is the result of clay painted on on side of the metal during production. The clay allows the heated sword to cool at different rates causing the famous curvature of the katana. Often done in an artistic pattern such as waves. Some sources give the hamon as the actual line separating the tempered and non-tempered areas. In this case it's definition is switched with that of the habuchi.

Hi

The so called "blood grove." Pronounced "he." Three reasons are often cited for its purpose. The least likely is that it was meant to allow blood to flow off the sword more easily. More practically, the grove made the sword lighter making it easier to weild but was placed in such a way that the strength and structure of the blade was not weakened. Finally, it is believed by some that the grove created a pocket of air during a cut that left a wider more deadly gash that would be difficult to heal.

Hiraji

The area between the hamon and the shinogi. Also shortened to either "hira" or "ji."

Jigane

The metal comprising the blade.

Kamon

A seal of some importance (often a family crest) displayed on the saya. Pronounced "kah-moan."

Katana

The katana is a particular kind of long Japanese sword. It is not to be confused with tachi or ken which are both words meaning "sword" or "blade." The katana was made popular in feudal Japan as the favorite weapon of the samurai. It is worht nothing that one thing unique to the katana in the fencing world is that when sheathed it is worn on the belt with the blade facing up. This was one of the earliest distinctions between older tachi and the emerging katana style in the late 1300s and early 1400s.

The Kissaki

Kissaki

Tip of the blade. Not simply the point, this is the entire area beyond the yokote.

Koiguchi

The mouth of the saya. Supposedly named for the Japanese fish the koi and the fact that the narrow opening of the sheath vaguely resembled a fish's mouth.

Kojiro

The end of the saya.

Ko-Shinogi

The continuation of the shinogi line onto the kissaki (tip).

Kuri-kata

The part of the saya where the segeo attached. Usually a protrusion with a whole in it.

Mekugi

Bamboo peg that connects the tsuka (hilt) to the nakago (tang). This peg is what holds the entire blade in place. Traditional designs have one, though contemporary katanas may have two makugi due to having a full tang.

Mekugi-ana

The hole which the mekugi sits.

Menuki

Metal decoration on the hilt set in the tsuka-ito.

The Monoushi and Kissaki within

Monouchi

Last several inches of the blade. There is no clear consensus of exactly how long this is. Sources say anywhere from 4 to 6 inches or measure it by fractions of the blade (fourth of the blade). The kissaki (tip) is within the monouchi.

Mune

The unsharpened back side of the blade. The steel heel is a lower carbon steel than on the ha (blade). This makes it softer but also less brittle, making it useful for blocking.

Sageo

The cord used to secure the saya to the belt. Often made of silk.

Samae

Under-wrapping on the tsuka. Often made of shark or ray skin.

The Saya or Sheath

Saya

The curved sheath the katana is housed in. Pronounced like "sigh-uh."

Seppa

One of two washers that sit on either side of the tsuba (handguard).

Shinogi

Line separating the hiraji and the shinogiji. The thickest part of the blade; often used for blocking.

Shinogiji

Area between the shinogi and the mune. The hi (blood groove) is found within this area.

Tsuba

The handguard separating the hilt from the blade.

Tsuka

The handle or hilt of the sword.

Tsuka-gashira

The end of the tsuka.

Tsuka-ito

The wrapping around the tsuka. Often made of silk, cotton, or leather.

Yakiba

The tempered side of the blade. During the quenching process, this side of the blade has less clay painted on it, thus it cools faster and forms a harder steel. The hasaki (cutting edge) is found on this side of the blade. Also called the ha.

Yokote

Line separating the kissaki from the rest of the blade.

Demonstration of katana use by author

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