The Samurai were an honorable elite class of men in Japan.
While they first served as the military's ruling class, they soon became the highest class in the Japanese class hierarchy. The Samurai sword soon was their iconic symbol and main weapon.
They also used other weapons like guns, spears, bows and arrows, but nothing came close to the use of the Samurai sword. It was common for Samurai to name their swords as they believed that their warrior spirit lived in the sword. Wooden swords would typically be used for practice so that damage to their real swords could be avoided.
Kissaki was the Samurai sword point that determined the sword quality. Japanese swords changed over time, but the three main Samurai sword types were: Katana, Wakizashi and Tanto. The most powerful Samurai, Shogun, used the Katana and Wakizashi swords.
Although these were what the three main samurai swords were called, other types of Japanese swords for Samurai also existed. We've covered them in the next section and also put together a list of good names for these Japanese swords.
Names And Main Types of Samurai Swords
The following are the names of the different types of Samurai Japanese swords.
This was the first single edged blade sword which would be imported from China and Korea. It translates into "straight sword". These early swords were replaced by the Tachi towards the end of the eighth century as their curved blade was found to be more effective, especially when drawing from the scabbard.
This is the most well known of Samurai Japanese swords. A Katana typically is a long sword with a length of three to four feet. Its hilt accounts for one quarter of the total length and it has a curve of more or less than one inch. The long blade and handle makes two hand accommodation and striking from a greater distance possible. The Katana has a single edged blade that's curved along with a squared or circular guard. This was the longest sword type and the Samurai would usually use this for outdoor combat. It was the signature sword of the Edo period Samurai class. The Katana has become synonymous with Japanese swords due to its usage in pop culture. It allows for more responsive and quicker attacks and began its life at the time of the Muromachi period. Katana translates into "sword". There are three types of Katana swords based on the blade type:
Shinogi-Zukuri: Most common form of the Japanese sword, Katana, featuring a line separating the main blade finish from the tip.
Shobu-Zukuri: This Japanese sword was a variation of the previous, without the line separating the main blade finish from the tip.
Kissaki-Moroha-Zukuri: This Katana Japanese sword has a curved as well as a double edged blade.
Kodachi translates into "small big sword" and is the shortened version of the Tachi, used with similar mounts. The Kodachi sword was used during or prior to the thirteenth century.
4. Nodachi or Odachi
Nodachi or Odachi refers to a very big version of the Tachi sword, used in the late fourteenth century. It translates to "field sword" or "great sword" and was used by foot soldiers as they proved to be effective in open field encounters and against cavalry. This Japanese sword was longer and much larger than the Katana, but was not an effective choice for constricted spaces or close range fighting. The flat edge of this Japanese sword would be held against the shoulders of foot soldiers with the blade of the sword facing the enemy. It was often thrown down or at the enemy in battle.
The Tachi was the first true Samurai sword created after the Chokutō by Amakuni. It is the Katana's predecessor, being longer and more curved than the katana. On average, the tachi was 75 cm long. It was used mainly by the Samurai on horseback charging at foot soldiers who could benefit from the longer and more curved blade of the sword. This translates to "big sword". Some of the oldest Samurai swords belong to the Tachi sword type. These are:
Honjo Masamune: Considered to be the finest and rarest Samurai sword, designed by Masamune, the greatest swordsmith of Japan. It is also regarded as Masamune's best work and became a symbol of the Tokugawa shogunate from the Edo period, which was a period of great prosperity.
Onimaru Kunitsuna: The "demon sword", one of Japan's Five Swords Under Heaven. It was believed to be useful in killing demons or an oni.
Juzumaru-Tsunetsugu: Also called "the rosary sword". This sword was associated with Buddhist reformer, Nichiren.
Ōtenta-Mitsuyo: Associated with the Maeda family.
Mikazuki Munechika: Considered to have the most beautiful blade. Sanjô Munechika created this sword and the name "mikazuki" derives from its crescent moon shape.
Dōjigiri Yasutsuna: The oldest of the Five Swords Under Heaven. Yasutsuna of Hōki created this sword, building on the work of Amakuni.
Kogarasu Maru: One of the most famous and oldest swords that Amakuni created.
This is a single or double edged Japanese dagger, always worn by the Samurai. This short sword with a sharp edge was used mainly for stabbing, cutting, or slicing. Over time, they have come to be seen as decorative items from the Samurai era. The different blade types of the Japanese Tanto are:
Shinogi: Has a ridged center that allows for bending and flexing of the dagger.
Shobu: Most common blade type used for the Tanto dagger.
Hira: This has a triangular intersection to give a diamond shape.
Osoraku: This blade type features an abnormally long tip.
Hochogata: A short and wide blade preferred by Masamune.
Moroha: A double edged blade.
This Japanese sword was developed in the fifteenth century from the Tachi sword and worn with its edge facing upwards in the obi.
The Wakizashi is a shorter version of the Katana, between one and two shaku in length (30 and 60 cm). It was typically worn along with the Japanese Katana by Samurai in feudal Japan. Together, they were called "daisho", meaning "large and small". The Wakizashi served as a weapon for the Samurai, complementing the use of the Katana. This was highly effective especially indoors due to the greater maneuverability it offered. Wakizashi means "side insertion" and along with the Katana, it symbolized Samurai worth and integrity.
Good Names For Samurai Swords
Samurai used to choose names for their swords, as they considered them to be sacred. Now that you know the names of different types of Samurai swords, here are a few good sword names for you to name your own toy Samurai sword.
1. Bushikatagi (Japanese origin), the name means "Samurai spirit".
2. Ikazuchi (Japanese origin), the name means "thunder".
3. Inazuma (Japanese origin), the name means "lightning strike".
4. Kazeshini (Japanese origin), the name means "wind of death".
5. Mugenjin (Japanese origin), the name means "call from the Abyss".
6. Tenken (Japanese origin), the name means "heavenly punishment".
7. Wabisuke (Japanese origin), the name means "the wretched one".
8. Yorukaze (Japanese origin), the name means "night wind".
9. Zangetsu (Japanese origin), the name means "moon slayer".
10. Zantetsuken (Japanese origin), the name means "one that cuts through iron".
Kidadl has lots of great names articles to inspire you. If you liked our suggestions for Samurai sword names, then why not take a look at these Japanese boy names, or for something different try these Japanese dog names.
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