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Reference »  Arms And Armour

katana, wakizashi, tanto, tachi, yari, yumi, yanone, naginata

Yoroi, kabuto, jingasa, abumi, mempo, maedate, armour parts

Koshirae & Tsuba
Saya, tsuba, menuki, seppa, kozuka, kougai, fuchi gasira, habaki

Click here for reference books, sword maintenance kits.


Japanese swords are made to be easily taken apart for care.
The term SWORD CARE means to oil a blade to prevent from it from being exposed to rust.
It is necessary to thoroughly remove the old oil and replace it entirely with new oil.
Maintenance is needed approximately four times a year to maintain a stable condition.

How to take apart a SWORD

1. Removing the MEKUGI.
2. Drawing the blade out of SAYA cutting edge up.
3. Hold the blade in a slightly angled upright position. Hold the sword by the pommel with the left hand,  hit the left wrist with the right fist lightly until the NAKAGO comes out.
4. When there is enough room to grasp the NAKAGO hold it tightly and pull it out of TSUKA.
5. Grasp the centre of the HABAKI from the MINE (back) side and remove it.

How to oil a blade

1. Starting from the base. Use the nuguigami to remove the old oil.
2. Powdering.
3. Dusting off the powder.
4. Wiping off the powder twice.
5. Soaking aburanuno in oil. Spreading oil in the blade.


(Handle guard)

1. Wear clean gloves when handling the TSUBA. The oils and sweat from your skin can cause the TSUBA to rust or stain. Do not ever handle the IROTSUBA, especially SHIBUICHI with bare hands.

2. Turn the TSUBA several times a year. Keeping it in the box without turning it may cause a color change where the TSUBA is touching the cloth.

3. To clean TSUBA or SAYA, use flannel or tissues and wipe them lightly.

* KOGAI Originally an item for combing hair, chopsticks and also to pick one's ears.
In the Kamakura period, it was the fashion to attach a kogai to the WAKIZASHI SWORD which accompanied the Katana.
From the end of the Muromachi period to the Edo period, MIDOKOROMONO(KOZUKA+KOUGAI+MENUKI) referred large and small KOSHIRAE and UCHIGATANA-KOSHIRAE with KOZUKA and MENUKI added to the KOGAI.

* KOZUKA A small blade is stored within the handle for the use in various applications of the owner.

* MENUKI Small decorative metal fittings kept one each side of the hilt. Under the hilt,binding as an aid to the grip.

* SAYA Usually of lacquered wood and with horn pieces.

* FUCHI-KASHIRA The FUCHI is made to prevent damage to the TSUKA-GUCHI and the KASHIRA is made to protect the TSUKA-GASHIRA.

* TSUBA The TSUBA is not just to protect the fist which grips the handle, but also to improve the function of the KATANA by adding weight at that position.

TSUBA for TACHI or TACHI-TSUBA has no such holes as KOZUKA and KOGAI are not attached to the mounting of TACHI or TACHIKOSHIRAE.


The Muromachi period(1336-1573)

The main stream of decorative sword fittings during the Muromachi period was the Goto family, who worked for the ruling clans from the time Ashikaga clan. The Goto school is called "IEBORI" (house carvers) since they worked for the house of the daimyo. Goto work is typically of shakudo (the black-painted alloy of copper with a few percent gold) and with decoration in high relief inlay of gold and silver. The motifs were often taken from Chinese myths and legends.

The end of 17th century to 18th

Sword fittings now became subject to the design of popular culture, with purely Japanese motifs. There were the first of the generations of metalworkers to use SHIBUICHI (alloy of copper and silver). "TAKABORI" design is modelled in high relief and decorated with the inlay of other metals.

Edo area Yokoya Somin (1670-1733) who worked first in the Goto tradition for the shogunke, set up an independent studio in Edo, and is often considered to be the founder of the "MACHIBORI"(popularization design) movement. Somin was particulary influenced by the innovative work of Hanabusa Icchyo who was a popular painter in this period.
Yanagawa Naomasa(1692-1757) was a pupils of Somin.

The Nara school Nara Toshinaga (1667-1736), Sugiura Jyoui (1701-1761), Tsuchiya Yasuchika (1670-1744), Hamano Shozui.

Kyoto area Goto Ichijyou (1791-1876), Kano Natsuo (1828-1898) are the two giants in the field of metalwork during late Edo and Meiji period.
Ichinomiya Nagatune (1722-1786), Otsuki Mitsuoki ( 1766-1834) inspired by the Maruyama Shijyo school of painting.

Much of the charm of sword fittings lies in this balance, their miniature detail, and the format of the pieces themselves.

Many decorative styles and techniques were devised in Edo period. The Bakumatsu period (1840-1867) and Meiji era (1868-1912) saw the pinnacle of sword fittings.
After a "Haito-rei" (1876) act prohibiting the wearing of swords in public was passed in 1876, many of the sword fittings makers turned their hand to making small accessories and ornaments.


1. Tamahagane is crushed into a thin plate and broken into smaller pieces and sorted.
2. The plate is heated to about 1300℃. The pieces are then hammered and welded together.
3. Incisions for folding and then hammered out over again. Each pieces of steel is folded approx. ten times.
4. Shingane (centre part) and Kawagane (outer side) are joined and welded together.
5. The blade is hammered out.
6. Clay is applied for quenching.
7. The blade is heated red-hot.
8. Any distortions in the blade are corrected and polished.
9. The SWORD is now passed to a professional sword polisher. Lastly, the blade is signed.

Japanese SWORDS

Japanese Swords are TACHI, KATANA (60cm~), WAKIZASHI (30cm~), TANTOU (~30cm), KEN, YARI, NAGINATA

Sending Japanese sword to and from Japan.
Since swords are subjects of control under Firearms and Swords Possession Control Law in Japan. All sword blades entering and leaving Japan must be registered and de-registered. Obtaining the torokusho, the registration card, requires the proper and complex procedure. When sending a Japanese sword to and from Japan, we recommend that you consult with the Japanese Embassy or a sword dealer in your country.