A comprehensive glossary of sword terms

AIKUCHI Tanto up to one foot long mounted without a guard (Tsuba).

AITORI Mild heating to neutralize strains after hardening the edge.

ALTO – MEI Mei was signed posthumously by his student.

AOBUCHI (blue pool) Dark blue steel with whirlpool grain, from Soshu.

ARA-NIE Large coarse Nie.

ASHI Leg or foot. Short lines extending from patterns of Nie or Nioi.

ATOBI Grooves in a sword carved later by other than the original smith.

ATOBORI Horimono carvings added later to decorate or to hide defects.

ATO MEI Signature added at a later date

AYASUGI A pattern of grain (Hada) forming regular wavy lines used mostly by the Gassan and Satsuma Naminohira schools.

BOHI Wide groove almost filling the shinogi surface.

BOKKEN Wooden sword for practicing sword kata.

BOKU-TO Imitation sword of wood carried by a doctor.

BONJI Sanscrit characters occasionally carved onto the blade surface.

BOSHI The shape of temper line in the point of the sword.

BOSHI AGARU Loss of boshi by broken point or other causes.

BO-UTSURI Straight faint mirror like reflections of the temper line.

BU Japanese measurement (approx 0.1 inch)

CHIISA KATANA A general term for all swords shorter than a katana but also used to indicate a length between wakizashi and standard katana.

CHIKEI A bright curved line ( e.g.Nioi) occurring in the ji.

CHOJI Temper line in the shape of cloves.

CHOJI-MIDARE Clove shaped temper line mixed with irregular shapes in the Hamon.

CHU-KISSAKI Blade point of medium length in proportion to the width of the blade near the tang.

CHU-SUGUBA Medium width straight Hamon.

DAI-MEI student smith signing his teacher’s name

DAISHO A matched pair of swords (large-small) and/or fittings.

DAITO A long sword. Literally a large sword.

DORAN or TORAN High wave patterns of hamon.

FUCHI-KASHIRA A set of tsuka collar (fuchi) and butt cap (kashira)

FUKURA The cutting edge of the sword point.

FUKURE Flaw, usually a blister in the steel.

FUKURIN Rim cover of a tsuba

FUNAGATA Ship bottom shaped nakago (tang).

FUNBARI A term used to describe a blade which becomes noticeably wider as it approaches the hilt. A feature of Koto blades.

FURISODE A tang shape with the end deeply curved toward the back side which resembles a kimono sleeve.

FUTADOKORO Meaning two piece matching set usually associated with either kozuka with menuki or kozuka and kogai.

GAKUMEI The signature removed from the original tang and inserted into the shortened tang.

GENDAITO Traditionally forged sword blades by modern smiths before WWII.

GIMEI A false signature on a blade.

GINSUJI A silvery color kinsuji line in the temper line (yakiba).

GOKADEN The Five Schools of the Koto period.

GOMAE KITAE Five layer forging. Done by Bizen and Soshu schools.

GUNOME A type of Hamon (temper) resembling regular half circles.

GUNOME-MIDARE An irregular mixture of ragged gunome.

GUNTO Machine made army swords.

HA The cutting edge of the sword.

HA- AGARI KURIJIRI Irregular U shape tang end.

HABAKI The collar around the blade above the tang to fit the blade securely into the scabbard.

HA-BUCHI The border line between the Ji and the Yakiba.

HADA The surface grain of the blade. There are many types and more than one type can be on the same blade.


HAGIRI A flaw where the blade edge is cracked entirely through the edge of the blade at a right angle to the edge.

HAKIKAKE A feature of the tempered edge in which Nie appear in a swept or brush-stroke pattern.

HAKO BA A box shaped Hamon.

HAMACHI The edge notch where the blade joins the tang.

HAMON The temper line.

HANDACHI A katana with partly Tachi mountings.

HATARAKI Activities or workings within the hamon or temperline

HI Grooves cut into the sword.

HIRA Flat surface of the blade.

HIRA-ZUKURI A blade shape which is flat without shinogi ridges.

HIRO-SUGUHA Wide, straight temper line (hamon)

HITATSURA A temper pattern known as full temper.

HITSU ANA One or two holes in the sword guard (Tsuba) through which the kozuka and/or kogai are inserted into pockets in the scabbard.

HORIMONO A general term for carvings on the blade surface.

ICHIMAE BOSHI The whole point tempered.

IHORI-MUNE Two surface shape to the mune (back edge) of the blade.

IKUBI-KISSAKI A short and stubby point said to resemble the neck of a wild boar.

INAZUMA Lightening shaped bright lines in the Yakiba or the Hada.

ITAME HADA Wood grain pattern in the surface steel.

ITOMAKI NO TACHI Tachi with top of saya wrapped with ito.

JI The surface of the blade between the Yakiba and the Shinog.

JIGANE Surface steel

JIHADA Surface texture. The various patterns of Hada.

JI-NIE The presence of Nie in the Ji.

JI-TSUYA Dark colors luster on ji surface.

JIZO BOSHI Boshi shaped like a priest’s head.

JUKA CHOJI Double choji pattern.


KABUTO-GANE Tachi style kashira.

KAEN A flame shaped boshi pattern.

KAERI The shape of the turn back of the boshi pattern.

KAI GUNTO Navel swords produced during World War Two.

KAJI Swordsmith

KAKU-MUNE A square shape to the back of the Mune.

KANJI Chinese writing characters used in Japan.

KANMURI-OTOSHI Back ridge beveled like a naginata

KANTEI The study and appraisal of swords.

KASANE Thickness

KATAKIRIBA A sword shape with a ridgeline on one side only and the other side flat.

KATANA The general term for a long sword (over two feet) worn cutting edge up through the sash.

KATANA KAJI Swordsmith

KATANA KAKE A sword stand horizontal display.

KATANA MEI Signature on the side of the tang which is away from the body when the blade is worn slung with the cutting edge up.

KATANA TOGISHI Sword polisher.

KAWAGANE Surface or skin steel.

KAZU-UCHIMONO Mass-production of swords of lower quality.

KEN Straight sword which is double edged.

KENGYO A butt end of the tang with a symmetrical V-shape.

KESHO YASURIMEI Decorative file marks tang.

KIJI MOMO Tang shaped like pheasant leg.

KINSUJI Whitish golden lines along or in the Yakiba.

KINZOGAN MEI Gold inlay signature attribution added by appraiser..

KISSAKI The point of the blade. Many shapes.

KITAE The style of forging.

KIZU Various flaws or defects in a blade.

KOBUSE Blade constructed with hard steel around a soft core.

KODACHI Short tachi blades usually two feet or less from the Kamakura period.

KODOGU Collective term for all the fittings except the Tsuba.

KOGAI A hair arranger which fits into a pocket in the scabbard and is withdrawn through the tsuba (Hitsu Ana).

KOJIRI Fitting on the bottom end of the scabbard.

KO-KISSAKI A blade point of short length in proportion to the width of the blade near the tang.

KOMARU A small round boshi.

KO-MIDARE Small irregular hamon pattern or small irregularities in other hamon patterns.

KO-MOKUME Small wood burl grain Hada.

KO-NIE Tiny Nie (Martinsite) crystals along the Hamon.

KOSHIRAE Sword mountings including scabbard, fittings, and handle.

KOSHI-ZORI A type of blade curve which has the maximum curve point nearer the tang than the middle.

KOTO Old swords. Usually means swords made before 1596.

KO-WAKIZASHI Short wakizashi.

KOZUKA Small utility knife which fits into the pocket in the scabbard.

KURI-JIRI Chestnut shaped tang end. A rounded asymmetrical shape.

KURIKATA Knob on the side of the scabbard for the belt cord.

MACHI Notches in the blade to stop the Habaki. Edge=Hamachi back=Munemachi.

MACHI OKURI When the notches have been moved up the blade.

MAKI ITO The braid for wrapping handles.

MARU-DOME The round end of a groove.

MARU MUNE Rounded back edged of the blade.

MASAME-HADA Straight grain.

MEIBUTSU Famous sword

MEI Signature

MEKUGI The peg holding the handle on the sword.

MEKUGI-ANA The hole for the Mekugi

MENUKI Ornaments under the handle wrapping to improve the grip.

MIDAREBA Irregular Hamon patterns.

MIDARE-CHOJI Irregular clove shapes in the Hamon.

MIHABA The width of the blade.

MITSU MUNE A three surface back edge of the blade.

MIZUKAGE White diagonal stripe at the base of a retempered blade.

MOKUME-HADA A burl wood grain Hada.

MONO -UCHI The striking area of the blade 4-5 inches below the point.

MOROHA Doubled edged sword.

MOTOHABA The width of the blade measured at the Habaki.

MOTOKASANE Thickness of sword at machi.

MUJI HADA No grain visible.

MUMEI Without signature.

MUNE The back edge of the blade.

MUNE MACHI The notch in the back of the blade to stop the Habaki.

MUNEYAKI Temper pattern along the back edge of the blade.

MUSORI Without curve. As in the shape of the blade.

NAGAMAKI A kind of koshirae used on a Naginata in the late Kamakura and early Muromachi days. It came from the fact that the hilt for the long
blade was wrapped with a cord or a leather strip wound around it. Sometimes this term is used incorrectly to describe a type of halberd.

NAGASA The length.

NAGINATA A halberd. A sword blade of one of several similar shapes that was used attached to a long pole. Also called a polearm.

NAKAGO The tang of the blade. The part of the blade which fits into the handle.

NAKAGO JIRI A general term used for the butt end of the tang.

NAKAGO MUNE The back edge of the tang.

NAMBAN TETSU Foreign steel.

NAMBOKUCHO The name of the period of the Northern and Southern dynasties, ca. late 1300″s at the beginning of the Muromachi Era.

NAOSHI Corrected or repaired.

NENGO Japanese era.

NIE Martinsite crystals formed during the heating and quenching process. Nie are crystals which are large enough to be viewed as individual particles.

NIE-DEKI Hamon done in nie.

NIJUBA Double hamon.

NIKU meat (blade having lots of fullness)

NIOI The same as Nie except that these particles are too small to be discernible to the naked eye and appear like a mist or fog.

NOTAREBA A term refering to a Hamon outline that is wavelike.

O-CHOJI Hamon of large choji patterns.

O-DACHI Very long sword (over 30 inches).

O-GONOME Large gonome pattern hamon.

O-KISSAKI Large kissaki.

O-MIDARE Large irregular hamon pattern.

OMOTE The side of the sword away from the body as it is worn. The opposite side is called the ura or back.

ORIGAMI A certificate of appraisal.

ORIKAESHI-MEI Blade signature folded into the opposite of the tang when the blade is shortened.

OSHIGATA A rubbing of the inscription on the tang.

O-SURIAGE A shortened sword losing all or most of the original tang.

O-WAKIZASHI Longer Wakizashi, almost two feet long.

RYU Dragon horimono.

SAGEO The cord or braid attached to the Kurikata on one side of the scabbard.

SAGURI Catch-hook on saya.

SAIDAN MEI A cutting test. Same as kiri-tameshi.

SAIHA A retempered edge.

SAKA-CHOJI Choji shapes slanting down toward the base of the blade.

SAKI-HABA The width of the blade at the Kissaki.

SAKI-ZORI Curvature of the blade with the more pronounced curve toward the point.

SAME Skin from a ray fish used on sword handles and sometimes
on scabbards.

SANBONSUGI A three tree pattern Hamon. Kanemoto of Mino was famous for this.

SANMAI-KITAE Three layer method of forging.

SASHI-OMOTE One side of a sword. See omote. Haki-omote – see ura.

SAYA The scabbard.

SEPPA The washers used to fill the space between the tsuba and the sword.

SHAKU The Japanese unit of measurement equaling 11.93 inches.

SHINAE Small cracks cross-ways in a blade. A flaw.

SHINOGI Ridges on each side of the blade.

SHINOGI-ZUKURI Blades made with a ridge line.

SHINTO New swords. Swords made between 1596 and ca.1800 SHIN-SHINTO New,new swords. Swords between 1800 and 1870.

SHINSAKUTO Japanese swords made between the end of WWII and present time.

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

SHINSA Where a team of judges (performs kantei) of a Japanese Sword, Toso or Tosugu.

SHIRASAYA White wooden scabbard.

SHOBU TSUKURI Shobu shape with ridge lines to point without yokote.

SHOWA-TO Hand made blades made since 1926. Not gunto.

SHUMEI Lacquer attribution. Red lacquer if the blade is ubu, otherwise done in gold lacquer.

SORI Curvature of the sword.

SUGUHA Straight Hamon paralleling the edge curve.

SUGATA Shape of sword blade.

SUMI HADA Smooth blackish patches on the surface of blades of some schools.

SUN The Japanese measure for one-tenth of a shaku.

SUNAGASHI Sweeping lines along the Hamon like floating sand ridges.

SUNNOBE Longer than average Wakizashi or Tanto.

SURIAGE Shortened blade.

TACHI General term for all slung swords.

TACHI KAKE Sword rack or stand for a Tachi.

TACHI MEI Signature on the side of the tang which is away from the body when the blade is worn slung with the cutting edge down.

TAMESHIGIRI Cutting test on a sword.

TANTO Daggers less than one foot long.

TOGI Polish on a sword.

TORII ZORI Curvature of the sword with the deepest part in the center of the blade.

TOSHO Sword artisan.

TOSOGU Parts of the mounting in general.

TOSU An ancient short dagger worn on court dress.

TSUBA Sword guard.

TSUKA Sword Handle.

TSUKA ITO Braid for wrapping handle.

TSUKA MAKI Sword handle wrapping.

TSUNAGI Wooden sword made to keep in Koshirae.

UBU NAKAGO Original unaltered tang.

UCHIGATANA Long fighting sword with tsuba.

UCHINOKE Small new moon shape nie lines on blades of master smiths.

UCHIZORI A type of curve that bends slightly towards, rather than away from, the cutting edge.

UMEGANE Small holes in blade surface plugged with same kind of steel.

URA The side of the sword next to the body when the sword is worn.

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

UTSURI Reflections. Faint lines appearing to reflect the Hamon.

UTSUSHI-MONO / UTSUSHIMONO Copies or recreations of past masterpieces (not to be confused with forgeries).

WAKIZASHI Medium length sword between one and two feet.

WARE Opening in the lamination layers of the steel.

WARI KOGAI Kogai split to form chopsticks.

YAKIBA The tempered surface along the edge.

YAKIDASHI The end section of the Hamon near the tang.

YAKI-IRE Fast quenching of sword (tempering)

YAKINAOSHI Retempered blades.

YAKIOTOSHI Temper line stops above the base of cutting edge.

YAKIZUME Temperline in boshi with no turn-back.

YANONE Arrow head.

YARI Spear

YASURI ME File marks on the tang.

YO Leaves. Small patterns or lines in yakiba disconnected from hamon.

YOKOTE The line separating the blade portion of the sword from the point portion.

YOROIDOSHI Armor cutting tanto. Also called metazashi. Unusually thick.

YUBASHIRI Weak temper spots or bright bands of hard metal showing.

ZAI MEI Having maker’s name inscribed.

ZANGURI Rather coarse texture of nashiji hada.