Japan Sword Art

Names and lenghts of Japanese weapons

The following types of Japanese weapons do exist:

  • Chokutō (直刀), Straight single edged sword developed somewhere in the  10th century, without differential hardening or folding.
  • Tsurugi/Ken (), A Straight two edged sword developed/produced in 10th century, without differential hardening or folding.
  • Tachi( 太刀),  A big sword generally longer and more curved than the later katana, with curvature cantered from the middle or towards the Nakago, continuing in to the Nakago. Tachi’s were worn suspended, with the edge downward. The tachi where developed/produced normally before the 15th century. Lengths of a Tachi can be between 75 and 120 cm.
  • Kodachi (小太刀), This is a shorter version of the Tachi, but with similar mounts and intended use, mostly developed/produced in the 13th century or earlier. Lengths of a Kodachi can be between 60 and 65 cm.
  • Ōdachi (大太刀), “Very big sword” also called Nodachi (野太刀)”, it’s a  Very large Tachi, some in excess of 100 cm, normally the blades are from the late 14th century.
  • Uchigatana (打刀),  Development from the Tachi in the 15th century. Worn with the edge upwards.
  • Katate-uchi( 片手打ち), Short type of Uchi-gatana developed in the 16th century, with short Nakago, intended for one handed use.
  • Katana (), Long Sword. General term for the traditional sword with a curved blade between 60 and 80cm.  Worn with the edge upwards in the Saya. Developed from the Uchi-gatana, from the begin of the Edo period.
  • Wakizashi (脇差) A Short Sword between one and two shaku long (30 cm and 60 cm), mainly made after 1600. Generally it is the short blade that accompanies a katana (Dai-sho).  
  • Nagamaki (長巻), Similar to a Naginata, but with a straighter blade, more like that of a Tachi or Katana, and mounted with a wrapped handle.
  • Naginata (なぎなた, 薙刀): A with a curved single-edged blade. Naginata mounts consist of a long wooden pole, different type/style where made a Nagamaki mount, which is shorter and wrapped. There are various lengths
  • Yari () A spear, or spear-like polearm. This weapon have various blade forms, simple double edged and flat blade, but also triangular cross sections. The main blade is symmetric and straight unlike a Naginata. There are various lengths
  • Tantō (短刀). A knife or dagger. Usually one-edged, some were double-edged as well: Length until 30cm.
  • Ken () Usually a Tanto or Wakizashi length religious or ceremonial blade. Two edged with a gentle leaf shape, different lengths.
Sword lengths are indicated in Japanese in the following way:


Shaku 30.3 cm                
Sun 3.03 cm                
Bu 0.303 cm              
Rin 0.0303 cm            
Ichi 1                       
Ni 2                      
San 3                      
Yon 4                       or 二二
Go 5                      
Roku 6                      
Shichi 7                      
Hachi 8                      
Ku 9                      
Ju 10                      or
Hyaku 100                   
Sen 1000                 
Man 10000