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Parts of a Katana

The iconic weapon of the Empire of the Rising Sun, the main blade of the samurai since 1392 and the Muromachi period, is precision-forged to ensure perfect balance and cut.

Every detail of the Samurai sword is mastered and designed to optimize its performance. As a result, the Japanese vocabulary describing the katana is rich and deserves some clarification to help you discover this must-have sword.

Parts Of A Katana


The blade is undoubtedly the most important part of the Katana, defining not only its handling but also its cut, depending on its shape, its specific characteristics and the steels of which it is made. Here are a few terms concerning the blade:

Dragon Katana
  • Nagasa: Blade length, measured in a straight line from the notch at the back of the habaki (Munemachi) to the tip of the blade.
  • Sori: Bending angle of the blade.
  • Shinogi is the ridge line running along the center of the Japanese katana on the non-edged side. It is a distinctive angle on a katana and its position is very important.
  • Shinogi Ji: Flat part of the blade above the Shinogi line.
  • Mune: Back of the katana blade. Thicker and wider, it ensures the blade’s rigidity and balance, as well as the power distribution in the cut. The mune can also feature decorative details. Some fighting techniques use the mune to strike without damaging the blade or delivering lethal blows.
  • Hamon: Hardening line separating the rigid from the flexible part of the blade. The blade is coated with clay, which cools much faster, making it stiffer and sharper, and forming the hamon where the two parts separate.
  • Kissaki: This is the tip of the Japanese sword blade. The last few centimetres curve upwards. There are several different tips, varying in length and shape, such as the Chu Kissaki (medium tip) and the O-Kissaki (large tip).
  • Boshi: This is the curve separating the tip (Kissaski) from the body of the blade. This hardened and tempered part is delimited by the hamon.
  • Yokote: This is a sharp line separating the tip of the katana from the rest of the sword. Its angle defines the balance of the blade and influences cutting and stabbing ability.
  • Mono-uchi: This is the main cutting area in combat. It extends from the Yokote to a third of the blade on the cutting edge of the blade (Ha), hardened and tempered with clay and bounded by the hamon. Tempering, blade steel and sharpening define the Monouchi’s sharpness and strength.
  • Bo-Hi: This line, carved on the non-edged part of the Katana blade, makes a sound when cutting in the wind. But it also has a balancing effect, lightening the blade.
  • Nakago: This is the part of the blade (the tang) that continues under the handle and is therefore not visible. The smith’s signature, called Mei, is affixed to it.


The Saya defines the whole scabbard, often made of lacquered and decorated wood, the saya is designed to protect the blade but also to draw quickly.

Purple Katana
  • Sageo: a rope wrapped around the saya to tie the scabbard to the wearer’s belt (Obi).
  • Shitadome & Kurigata (kurikata): Allows the sageo to be easily tied at the waist.
  • Kojiri: Tip of the scabbard

Tsuba (Guard)

The guard of the katana is called the Tsuba. In combat, it is used to protect the swordsman’s hand and to keep the hand on the handle. Its weight is crucial to the sword’s balance. It is often decorated to make the weapon unique. Above the guard is the habaki, and below it the Seppa.

Golden Katana
  • Habaki: It plays a crucial role in holding the blade, fitting precisely into the scabbard to facilitate the drawing process. In addition to its functional aspect, the Habaki also helps to attenuate the shocks and vibrations felt in the handle during a strike.
  • Seppa: these two small washers serve a dual function. They fill the gaps between the Tsuba and the handle, and between the Habaki and the Tsuba. This arrangement improves the coherence of the structure and, like the Habaki, helps to reduce shocks and vibrations, offering a better experience when using the sword.

Tsuka (Hilt)

This is the handle of the Japanese katana sword, a cylindrical structure connecting the blade to the tsuba (handguard), providing the swordsman with a firm grip.

Usually made of wood, it is wrapped in a silk or cotton rope called Tsuka-ito, providing the swordsman’s hand with a non-slip surface. Traditionally adorned with a diamond pattern, this envelope combines functionality and aesthetics.

White Katana

The Tsuka is embellished with accessories such as menuki (decorative ornaments), fuchi (necklace) and kashira (pommel).

These elements, both decorative and functional, contribute to the sword’s balance and improve the swordsman’s grip. The Tsuka’s length varies according to the swordsman’s preferences and the sword’s intended use.

Some models offer a two-handed grip with longer Tsukas, while others are designed for one-handed use with shorter Tsukas.

Overall, the Tsuka is an essential component of the katana, ensuring a secure and comfortable grip for the swordsman while contributing to the overall aesthetics of the sword.

  • Fuchi: Symmetrical to the habaki, this is a metal ring under the guard and at the top of the handle that reinforces the structure.
  • Tsuka ito: Rope covering the handle. The Ito can be made of polyester, leather, cotton, suede or other materials, and braided in diamond shapes or not.
  • Samegawa: This is the leather under the tsuka ito, traditionally ray skin, which provides good support and absorbs impacts.
  • Mekugi: Wooden pegs that fix the handle to the blade by passing through the nakago.
  • Menuki: Decorations between samegawa and tsuka ito.
  • Kashira: Katana knob made from fuchi. It is used to attach the tsuka and for decoration.
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