In the world of the Katana it is important to know the vocabulary of this one, because it is only Japanese words that are used! But don't worry, this page will help you find your way more easily, in addition to making you learn some Japanese words !
👉 You can click that each title corresponding to the part of the nomenclature of the Katana in order to reach more details about it.
1. The Katana blade
This is the most important part and the most detailed, it is also this part which represents 50% of the price, because the forging is technical and the steels are varied.
The Nagasa of the Katana refers to the length of the blade. It is found by measuring in a straight line from the notch at the back of the habaki, called Munemachi, to the tip of the blade, as shown in the illustration above.
The Sori measures the curvature of the blade. This curvature can vary according to the katana and has several names depending on the intensity of the curvature.
C. Shinogi & Shinogi-Ji
These two Japanese terms are complementary. The Shinogi is the part from the edge of the blade to the line that determines the flat of the blade. The flat section of the blade is therefore called Shinogi-Ji.
The Hamon is the line of tempering that demarcates the most rigid and sharp part of the blade with the other, more flexible part. We coat part of the blade with a clay mixture that we will heat and temper, the part with the clay will cool much faster and will be more rigid and sharp.
This Hamon does not have a 100% success rate and this affects the price of high-end blades
This part refers to the hardening line of the Hamon which extends to the tip (Kissaki) of the Katana. The polishing of this point can take a long time, as it is very important. It is as important as the rest of the blade and reveals the Boshi.
The Yokote defines what separates the blade from the Kissaki. Almost all Katanas have this feature, there are some exceptions with Katanas without Yokote where the blade is continuous along the whole length.
The Kissaki is the tip of the Katana as shown in the picture above. This tip separates the rest of the Katana blade from the Yokote. The Kissaki tip varies between Katanas, it can be larger or smaller.
The Ha is the cutting edge of the blade. It is this part that is usually hardened with the Hamon in the traditional way. The sharpening of this part as well as the hardening and the steels used will determine the quality of the edge, but also its rigidity and solidity. It is important to have a blade that lasts over time and can withstand many cuts.
The Bo-Hi is a line carved inside the blade of the Katana that allows to reduce the weight of the blade, but also to adjust the balance point of the sword. This bo-hi throat is also useful for the sound, because it allows to know if the cut is good at the sound of the wind, which is rather satisfactory.
The Nakago is the tang of the Katana. It is the part that continues from the blade under the handle. This hidden part reveals many things like the signature of the master smith for example. Even if this part is not visible at first sight it is actually very important for the strength so that the steel does not break during a cut.
2. Katana Scabbard
The Saya is the scabbard of the Katana. This scabbard is designed to draw the blade as quickly as possible. It is therefore very easy to draw the blade, but its size is also perfect for holding the Katana without it falling out. This scabbard is usually made of lacquered wood with various patterns and colors.
B. Shitadome & Kurigata
These two parts are a pair. This small part allows to tie the Sageo which will be then hung on the belt of the practitioner. This brings a practical side as well as aesthetics to the scabbard.
The Sageo is, as we said, a rope that allows the Katana to be attached to the practitioner's belt. There are different materials for this string and many colors. Traditionally, the color of the Sageo is matched to the Tsuka handle.
3. Between the handle and the blade of the Katana
A. Habaki & Seppa
Before tackling the handle part, there are some important details between the blade and the beginning of it, which is the Habaki and the Seppa. These two small parts are linked and very important.
The Habaki allows maintaining the blade, to fit perfectly in the scabbard to maintain it without it being too complicated to draw the sword, but it also allows reducing the shocks and vibrations felt in the handle during a blow.
The Seppa are two small washers to fill the gaps between the Tsuba and the hilt, as well as the Habaki and the Tsuba. This holds the nomenclature better and also reduces shock.
The Tsuba is the guard of the Katana. It allows both to protect the hand, but also to prevent the hand of the wielder from sliding forward. It also allows for weight and balance point adjustment while being a real work of art.
4. Katana Handle
The Fuchii is a metal ring that reinforces the structure of the Katana, but also hides the handle beneath. It is often carved in unique traditional patterns such as the dragonfly.
This is the "rope" used to wind the handle (same). There are different techniques and materials for this part of the Katana. The Ito can be made of polyester, leather, cotton, suede or other materials.
The Same is the stingray leather. Stingray skin or shark skin, this material allows the Ito to hold well on the stingray, but is also perfect to absorb the blows while offering an aesthetic side.
Mekugis are wooden pegs (two). These Mekugis help to fix the handle to the blade by passing through the tang. But in reality the handle is already very strong without them and there could be only one Mekugi.
These are ornaments made of different materials like copper or brass. They are used to facilitate the grip, but also to decorate the handle of the Katana with a traditional ornament.
This is the pommel of the Katana, it is made with the Fuchi (similar patterns are often found between the two) and it allows fixing the Tsuka, as well as the rest of the handle while offering a unique visual.