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The Katana
The Wakizashi
The Tanto
The No Dachi
The Naginata
The Tachi
The Ninja-To
The Parts of a sword
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Parts of the sword

Saya - the scabbard
The saya is the scabbard, or case, in which the sword is held. Usually made of wood. The act of sheathing the sword correctly without causing injury to oneself or tarnishing the blade is called no to. The art of drawing the sword from the saya, performing various cuts, and returning it is called Iai do. More decorative saya may be wrapped with ito and decorated with crests. Ninja would sometimes have a saya that was slightly longer than the blade of the sword so metsubushi or blinding powder can be hidden inside. Often the bottom piece of the saya could be removed so it could be used as a snorkel. Throwing darts were also sometimes hidden inside the saya.

Sageo - the belt cord
The sageo had several uses, including tying back the sleeves of the kimono or binding the hakama when confrontation was imminent. With respect to the sword, it was tied into the obi or belt and used to keep the saya from slipping out or being lost. The ninja had a much longer sageo which would be carried in the teeth when climbing so the sword would not get in the way.

Fuchi Kashira - the fittings
Kashira is the fitting on the butt of the tsuka. It is sometimes very ornate, sometimes very plain, but is almost always considered a signature of the sword's creator. The same is true of Fuchi, the fitting just under the tsuba. They often featured engravings of dragons, clouds, trees or other various scenes which would be a mark of the creator's artistry.Their function is twofold; to hold the tsuka together and to hold the ito in place around it.

Nakago - the tang
The nakago is the part of the blade that his held inside the tsuka. it is usually held in place by two bamboo pins. This is often referred to as a tang. The deeper the nakago, the more sturdy the sword will likely be.

Tsuka - the hilt
The tsuka is the part of the sword it's user would hold. It is usually made of wood, covered in rayskin and wrapped in ito cord. These days most katana feature an 11-inch tsuka, but traditional swords had a tsuka of up 15 inches or even longer. The length of the tsuka allows the user's hands to be farther apart, increasing the control and cutting power of the sword. The cutting power comes from wringing the hands around the tsuka as the cut is performed.

Same - rayskin
The rayskin which covers the tsuka is usually white in color and has hundreds of little bumps on it for gripping.

Ito - wrapping
Ito is the name given to the cord wrapped around the tsuka. It is wrapped in a very specific way. Only cord wrapped this way is called ito.

Menuki - charms
If you look under the ito and on top of the same, you will see charms that are held onto the tsuka. These charms were again often a trademark of the individual who made the sword.

Mekugi - the bamboo pins
If you examine the tsuka, you can see clearly two bamboo pins. These hold the nakago in place.

Tsuba - the cut guard
There are many different kinds of tsuba and to some the making of tsuba is an art in itself. This is the part of the sword which separates the tsuka from ken, or the blade. It protects the hands from slipping onto the blade and also protects the hands from being cut by an enemy. There were also swords called shirasaya, which did not have tsuba.

Habaki - the collar
Habaki is the name given to the square piece, usually brass or iron, which wraps around the base of the blade and is connected to the tsuba. It works with the nakago to keep the blade firmly in place.

Ken - the blade
The blade of the samurai sword is a true work of art, and even today in Japan people carry on ancient family traditions of sword making, even if only as a hobby. The forging process for the samurai sword was remarkable and included using pure, high-carbon steel, heating it and folding it over 200 times, covering it in clay, heating it to 3,000 degrees and cooling it off in water. The samurai sword's blade was so powerful that it could cut a person clean in half. For this reason, there was no room for error in the japanese sword arts! The samurai sword is also remarkably light in contrast to swords of other cultures. After some time of evolution, the current curved blade design was found to be superior and more resistant to breaking than a straight blade was. Really there are many kinds of blades, the style we are accustomed to seeing is very popular because it is used in iai do and kenjutsu. Because the steel is made with high-carbon steel it is very important never to let your fingers touch. This will cause the blade to rust. Also, it should always be oiled. This will protect it from patina and rust that come with age.

Hamon - the wave frost
The heat tempering and fast cooling of the blades causes the edge to produce a find wave pattern, called a hamon. The pattern of the hamon should be random and unpredictable. If the waves are consummate, then the hamon did not come from cooling.

Hada - The Grain
The grain of the blade is difficult to see, but if you observe the blade in the right light you can see it, although just barely. There are many different types of grain.

Hi - the blood groove
Historically speaking, there are many different kinds of hi and there is some debate as to their purpose, if they have a purpose at all. Today, the most common hi we see is called a bo hi. This is the groove which runs along the blade toward the flat edge. Some say it was originally used to give blood a place to run along the blade so it could be easily cleaned using chuboree, blade cleaning techniques. Other say it was there strictly for aesthetic purposes. There are two kinds of hi; a standard hi ends just short of the habaki, an extended hi terminates at the nakago.

Yaiba - the cutting edge
Yaiba is the name given to the cutting edge of the blade. This is where the hamon appears. The blade of the samurai was so sharp that it could cut through bone easily. Yaiba is also one half of the character 'shinobu'or 'nin' which means 'to endure' and is one half of the kanji for 'ninjutsu.'

Kissaki - the tip
The rounded part of the blade at the end where the point is is called kissaki. This part is used to 'tsuki' or thrust the sword into the enemy. It can also be used to make surgically accurate cuts to vital areas. Phony swords often have a squred kissaki.