Collecting, buying and selling antique Japanese Swords such as Katana’s, Wakizashi’s and Tanto’s

Japanese Terminology

Nihonto Kanji and glossary:

AIKUCHI – a tanto with no tsuba (guard)

AOI – hollyhock, commonly used as a Mon

ARA-NIE – coarse or large nie

ASHI – legs (streaks of nioi pointing down toward the edge)

ATOBORI – horimono added at a later date

ATO MEI – signature added at a later date

AYASUGI – large wavey hada (grain)

 

BAKUFU – military government of the Shogun

BO-HI – large or wide groove

BOKKEN – wooden sword for practicing sword kata

BONJI – sanskrit carvings

BO-UTSURI – faint utsuri

BOSHI – temper line in kissaki (point)

BU – Japanese measurement (approx 0.1 inch)

BUKE – military man, samurai

BUSHIDO -the code of the samurai

 

CHIKEI – dark lines that appear in the ji

CHISA KATANA – short katana

CHOJI – clove shaped hamon

CHOJI OIL – oil for the care of swords

CHOJI-MIDARE – irregular choji hamon (temper line)

CHOKUTO – prehistoric straight swords

CHU – medium

CHU-KISSAKI – medium sized point (kissaki)

CHU-SUGUHA straight, medium width temper line

 

DAI – great or large

DAI-MEI – student smith signing his teacher’s name

DAIMYO – feudal lord

DAISHO – a matched pair of long and short swords

DAITO – long sword (over 24 inches)

 

FUCHI – collar on hilt

FUCHI-KASHIRA – set of hilt collar (fuchi) and buttcap (kashira)

FUKURA – curve of the ha or edge in the kissaki (point)

FUKURE – flaw; usually a blister in the steel

FUKURIN – rim cover of a tsuba

FUNAGATA – ship bottom shaped nakago

FUNBARI / FUMBARI – much taper of the blade from the machi to the kissaki

FURISODE – shape of sword tang that resembling the sleeve of a kimono

 

GAKU-MEI – original signature inlaid in a cut-off (o-suriage) tang

GENDAITO – traditionally forged sword blades by modern smiths

GIMEI – fake signature (mei)

GIN – silver

GOKADEN – the Five Schools of the Koto period

GOMABASHI – parallel grooves

GUNOME – undulating hamon

GUNOME-MIDARE – irregularly undulating hamon

GUNTO – army or military sword mountings

GYAKU – angled back, reversed

 

HA – cutting edge

HABAKI – blade collar

HABUCHI – the line of the hamon

HADA – grain in steel, pattern of folding the steel

HAGANE – steel

HAGIRE -edge cracks in the hamon (fatal flaw)

HAKIKAKE -broom swept portions in the boshi

HAKO BA – box shaped hamon

HAKO-MIDARE – uneven box shaped hamon

HAKO-MUNE – square shaped blade back

HAMACHI – notch at the beginning of the cutting edge

HAMIDASHI – tanto or dagger with a small guard (tsuba)

HAMON – temper pattern along blade edge

HANDACHI – tachi mountings used on a katana or wakizashi

HATARAKI – activities or workings within the hamon or temperline

HAZUYA – finger stones used to show the hamon and hada

HI – grooves in the blade

HIRA-MUNE – flat blade backridge

HIRA-TSUKURI / HIRA-ZUKURI – blade without a shinogi (flat blade)

HIRO-SUGUHA – wide, straight temper line (hamon)

HITATSURA – full tempered hamon

HITSU / HITSU-ANA – holes in the tsuba for the kozuka or kogai

HO – kozuka blade HONAMI – family of sword appraissers

HORIMONO – arvings on sword blades

HOTSURE – stray lines from hamon into the ji

 

ICHI – one or first

ICHIMAI – one-piece sword construction

ICHIMAI BOSHI – point area (kissaki) that is fully tempered

IHORI-MUNE – peaked back ridge

IKUBI – boar’s neck (a short, wide kissaki)

INAZUMA – lightning (a type of activity in the hamon)

ITAME – wood grained hada

ITO – silk or cotton hilt wrapping

ITOMAKI NO TACHI – tachi with top of saya wrapped with ito

ITO SUGU – thin, thread like hamon

 

JI – sword surface between the shinogi and the hamon

JI-GANE – surface steel

JI-HADA – surface pattern of the hada

JINDACHI – tachi

JI-NIE – islands of nie in the ji

JIZO BOSHI – boshi shaped like a priest’s head

JUMONJI YARI – a yari with cross pieces

JUYO TOKEN – highly important origami for sword by NBTHK

JUZU – hamon like rosary beads

 

KABUTO – helmet

KABUTO-GANE – tachi style pommel cap

KABUTO-WARI – helmet breaker

KAEN – flame shaped boshi

KAERI – turnback (refers to the boshi at the mune)

KAI GUNTO – naval sword

KAJI – swordsmith

KAKIHAN – swordsmiths or tsuba makers monogram

KAKU-MUNE – square back ridge

KAMIKAZI – divine wind

KANJI – Japanese characters

KANMURI-OTOSHI – backridge beveled like a naginata

KANTEI – sword appraisal

KAO – carved monogram of swordsmith on tang (nakago)

KASANE – thickness of blade

KASHIRA – sword pommel or buttcap

KATAKIRI – sword with one side flat (no shinogi)

KATANA – sword worn in the obi, cutting edge up

KATANA KAKE – sword stand

KATANA-MEI – signature side that faces out when worn edge up

KAWAGANE – skin or surface steel

KAZU-UCHI MONO – mass produced swords

KEBORI – line carving done on sword mounts

KEN – straight double edged sword

KENGYO – triangular or pointed nakago-jiri

KESHO YASURIME – decorative file marks on nakago

KIJIMATA – pheasant thigh shaped nakago

KIJIMOMO – pheasant leg shaped nakago

KIKU – chrysanthemum

KIKUBA – chrysanthemum temperline (hamon)

KIN – gold

KINKO – soft metal sword fittings (not iron)

KIN-MEI – gold inlay or gold lacquer appraiser’s signature

KINZOGAN MEI – same a kin-mei

KINSUJI – golden line (type of activity in hamon)

KINZOGAN-MEI – attribution in gold inlay on nakago

KINSUJI – whitish line along hamon

KIRI – paulownia

KIRI HA – flat sword with both sides beveled to the edge

KIRI KOMI – sword cut or nick on the blade from another sword

KISSAKI – point of blade

KITAE – forging

KIZU – flaw

KO – old or small

KOBUSE – blade constructed with hard steel around a soft core

KO-CHOJI – small choji hamon

KODACHI – small tachi

KODOGU – all the sword fittings except the tsuba

KOGAI – hair pick accessory

KOIGUCHI – the mouth of the scabbard or its fitting

KOJIRI – end of the scabbard

KOKUHO – national treasure class sword

KO-MARU – small round boshi

KO-MIDARE – small irregular hamon

KO-MOKUME – small wood grain hada

KO-NIE – small or fine nie

KO-NIE DEKI – composed of small nie

KOSHIATE – leather suspensors (hangers) for a sword

KOSHIRAE – sword mountings or fittings

KOSHI-ZORI – curve of the blade is near the hilt

KOTO – Old Sword Period (prior to about 1596)

KOZUKA – handle of accessory knife

KUBIKIRI – small tanto for cutting the neck or removing heads

KUNI – province

KURIJIRI – rounded nakago jiri

KURIKARA – dragon horimono (engraving/carving)

KURIKATA – scabbard (saya) fitting for attaching the sageo

KUZURE – crumbling or disintegrating

KWAIKEN – short knife carried by women

 

MACHI – notches at the start of the ha and mune

MACHI-OKURI – blade shortened by moving up the ha-machi and mune-machi

MARU – round

MARU-DOME – round groove ending

MARU-MUNE – round mune

MASAME – straight grain (hada)

MEI – swordsmith’s signature

MEIBUTSU – famous sword

MEKUGI – sword peg

MEKUGI-ANA – hole for mekugi

MEMPO – face guard or mask

MENUKI – hilt ornaments

MIDARE – irregular, uneven temperline (hamon)

MIDARE-KOMI – uneven pattern in boshi

MIHABA – width of sword blade at the machi

MIMIGATA – ear shaped hamon

MITOKOROMONO – matching set of kozuka, kogai and menuki

MITSU KADO – point where yokote, shinogi and ko-shinogi meet

MITSU-MUNE – three-sided mune

MIZUKAGE – hazy line in ji commonly due to re-tempering

MOKKO – four lobe shaped (a tsuba shape)

MOKUME – burl like hada

MON – family crest

MONOUCHI – main cutting portion of blade (first six inches from kissaki)

MOROHA – double-edged sword

MOTO-HABA – blade width near habaki

MOTO-KASANE – blade thickness

MU – empty or nothing

MUJI – no visible grain

MUMEI – no signature (unsigned blade)

MUNE – back ridge of sword blade

MUNEMACHI – notch at start of mune

MUNEYAKI – regions of temper along the mune

MU-SORI – no curvature

 

N.B.T.H.K. – Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kai (sword preservation group)

NAGAMAKI – halberd weapon mounted as a sword

NAGASA – blade length (from tip of kissaki to munemachi)

NAGINATA – halberd

NAKAGO – sword tang

NAMBAN TETSU – foreign steel

NANAKO – raised dimpling (fish roe)

NAOSHI – corrected or repaired

NASHIJI – hada like pear skin

NENGO – Japanese era

NIE – bright crystals in hamon or ji

NIE-DEKI – hamon done in nie

NIKU – meat (blade having lots of fullness)

NIOI – cloud like hamon

NIOI-DEKI – composed of nioi

NIOI-GIRE – break in hamon

NODACHI – large tachi worn by high officials

NOTARE – wave like hamon

NOTARE-MIDARE – irregular wave like hamon

N.T.H.K.. – Nihon Token Hozon Kai (sword appraisal group)

NUNOME – overlay metal-work

 

O – large

OBI – belt sash

O-CHOJI – large choji hamon

O-DACHI – very long sword (over 30 inches)

O-KISSAKI – large kissaki

O-MIDARE – large irregular hamon

OMOTE – signature side of the nakago

O-NIE – large nie

O-NOTARE – large wave patterned hamon

ORIGAMI – appraisal certificate

ORIKAESHI MEI – folded signature

OROSHIGANE – specially processed steel for making swords

O-SEPPA – large seppa (usually on tachi)

OSHIGATA – rubbing of the signature on the nakago

O-SURIAGE – a shortened tang with the signature removed

 

SAGEO – cord used for tying the saya to the obi

SAGURI – catch-hook on saya

SAIHA/SAIJIN – retempered sword

SAKA – slanted

SAKI – tip or point

SAKI-HABA – blade width at yokote

SAKI ZORI – curvature in the top third of the blade

SAKU – made

SAME’ – rayskin used for tsuka (handle) covering

SAMURAI – Japanese warrior or the warrior class

SANBONSUGI – “three cedars” (hamon with repeating three peaks)

SAN-MAI – three-piece sword construction

SAYA – sword scabbard

SAYAGAKI – attribution on a plain wood scabbard

SAYAGUCHI – mouth of the scabbard (koi-guchi)

SAYASHI – scabbard maker

SEKI-GANE – soft metal plugs in the tsuka hitsu-ana

SEPPA – washers or spacers

SHAKU – Japanese unit of measure approximately one foot

SHAKUDO – copper and gold alloy used for sword fittings

SHIBUICHI – copper and silver alloy used for sword fittings

SHIKOMI-ZUE – sword cane

SHINAE – ripples in steel due to bending of blade

SHINAI – bamboo sword used in Kendo

SHINGANE – soft core steel

SHINOGI – ridgeline of the blade

SHINOGI-JI – sword flat between the mune and shinogi

SHINOGI-ZUKURI – sword with shinogi

SHIN-SHINTO – New-New Sword Period (1781 to 1868)

SHINTO – New Sword Period (1596 to 1781)

SHIRASAYA – plain wood storage scabbard

SHITODOME – small collars in the kurikata and/or kashira

SHOBU ZUKURI – blade where shinogi goes to the tip of the kissaki (no yokote)

SHOGUN – supreme military leader

SHOTO – short sword (between 12 and 24 inches)

SHOWATO – sword made during the Showa Era (usually refers to low quality blades)

SHUMEI – red lacquer signature

SHURIKEN – small throwing knife

SORI – curvature

SUDARE-BA – bamboo blinds effects in hamon

SUE – late or later

SUGATA – shape of sword blade

SUGUHA – straight temper line

SUKASHI – cut out

SUN – Japanese measure, approx. one inch

SUNAGASHI – activity in hamon like brushed sand

SURIAGE – shortened tang

 

TACHI – long sword worn with cutting-edge down

TACHI-MEI – signature facing away from body when worn edge down

TAKABORI – high relief carving

TAKANOHA – hawk feather style of yasurime

TAMAHAGANE – raw steel for making swords

TAMESHIGIRI – cutting test

TAMESHI-MEI – cutting test inscription

TANAGO – fish belly shaped nakago

TANAGO-BARA – fish belly shaped nakago

TANTO – dagger or knife with blade less than 12 inches

TATARA – smith’s smelter for making sword steel

TO – sword

TOBIYAKI – islands of tempering in the ji

TOGARI – pointed

TOGI – sword polish or polisher

TORAN – high wave like hamon

TORII-ZORI – sword curve in the middle of the blade

TSUBA – sword guard

TSUCHI – small hammer/awl for removing mekugi

TSUKA – sword handle

TSUKA-GUCHI – mouth of handle

TSUKA-ITO – handle wrapping or tape

TSUKAMAKI – art of wrapping the handle of a sword

TSUKURI / ZUKURI – sword

TSUKURU – made by or produced by

TSUNAGI – wooden sword blade to display fittings

TSURUGI – double edged, straight sword

 

UBU – original, complete, unaltered tang (nakago)

UCHIGATANA – fighting katana

UCHIKO – fine powder used to clean sword blades

UCHIZORI – curved inward

UMABARI – horse needle

UMA-HA – horse teeth hamon

UMEGANE – plug used to repair kizu

URA – side of the nakago facing toward the body

URA-MEI – signed on the ura (usually the date)

UTSURI – reflection of temperline in ji

 

WAKIZASHI – short sword (blade between 12 and 24 inches)

WARE – opening in the steel

WARI-BASHI / WARI-KOGAI – chop-sticks

 

YAKI DASHI – straight temperline near the hamachi

YA-HAZU – arrow notch shaped hamon

YAKIBA – hardened, tempered sword edge

YAKIDASHI – hamon beginning just above the ha-machi

YAKIHABA – width of yakiba

YAKI-IRE – fast quenching of sword (tempering)

YAKIZUME – temperline in boshi with no turnback

YANONE – arrow head

YARI – spear

YASURIME – file marks on nakago

YOKOTE – line between ji and kissaki

YOROIDOSHI – armor piercing tanto

 

ZOGAN – inlay

ZUKURI – sword

 

太刀Tachi,         大太刀 O Dachi,                          小太刀 Ko Dachi,             大刀 Daito,             小刀 Shoto,

刀 Katana,          脇差 (脇指) Wakizashi,               短刀 Tantô,                      槍Yari,                   薙刀 Naginata.

 

Japanese Numbers:

一          Ichi         1                            十一     Ju-ichi   11

二          Ni           2                            十二     Ju-Ni     12

三          San        3                            十三     Ju-San  13

四          Shi          4                            十四     Ju-Shi    14

五          Go          5                            十五     Ju-Go    15

六          Rokû     6                            二十     Ni-Jû     20

七          Shichi    7                            三十     San-jû   30

八          Hachi     8                             五十     Go-Jû    50

九          Kû          9                             八十     Hachu-Jû 80

十          Jû           10                           百          Hyakû   100

 

The Calendar:

日Hi Day, 月 Gatsu Month, 年 Nen Year

 

Titles in Mei:

守          Kami

掾          Jô

大掾     Daijô

介          Suke

州          Shû        A Province

作          Saku      Made

之          Kore      This

吉          Kichi      Lucky

所持     Shoji      Owner

 

Honorary Titles:

藤原     Fujiwara

平          Taira

菅原     Sugawara

源          Minamoto

橘          Tachibana

 

Other titles in Mei:

国          Kuni       Province

住          Jû           Resident of

造          Tsukuru               Made

鍛          Kitau     Forged

          Dô          Body

人          Nin