Samurai Weaponry


Samurai Weaponry


Although armor is what boasts the courage of the samurai, the sword is subtly and irrevocably interlinked with the culture and art aesthetic of the age. The sword as a weapon itself is a high crafted piece of technology. As a measure of Japanese history and advancement in technologies, each sword represents its age and artists with little details such as the curve of the blade and the style of the hilt.

The Japanese were also very spiritual; each part of their daily regimen was filled with discipline for the spirit and the mind. The Japanese sword could also be considered as a holy object, in its own right, due to the daily devotion to learning the morals behind it and the physical technique to perfect its motions. As an art object, it is the only kind of steel that posses an intrinsic beauty, a commitment, and a radiating energy of its own. Through swordplay and daily adherence to the code of the samurai, the sword became an object of enlightenment for the samurai.

National Geographic: Making the Samurai Sword

Collection Items

Blade for a Tachi (Slung Sword), known as "Ō-Kanehira" (Great Kanehira)
By the artist Kanehira.

Kanehira was one of the smiths of the oldest province of Bizen, the most productive site of sword production from the Heian through the Muromachi period. The steel is layered so many times the blade developes visible steel…

Blade for a Tachi (Slung Sword), known as "Dai Hannya Nagamitsu"
By the artist Nagamitsu.

"Esteemed as being meibutsu, or a "famous piece," it was given by Ashikaga Yoshiteru (r. 1545–65) to Miyoshi Nagayoshi, a powerful daimyo. Later Oda Nobunaga gave it to Tokugawa Ieyasu to honor his success at the Battle…

Blade for a Tantō (Dagger)

A Tanto is a handheld dagger used most commonly by women and peasants, in fact the only weapon a woman was allowed to posses during this period. However, the most well-crafted of them went to the samurai as secondary weapons to thier swords.…

Early Mounted Short Sword
by the artist Rai Kunitoshi .

The golden age of swords in Japan is commonly considered to be the Kamakura period. During this time there were many great smiths in the schools of Yamato, Bizen, and Yamashiro that were the common grounds of many…

Tsuba (Sword Guard) with the Zen Monk Bukan
By Tsuchiya Yasuchika .

Kurokawa Institute for Ancient Cultures, Hyōgo Prefecture.

Bukan, who lived in China during the Tang dynasty, is said to have traveled on the back of a tiger he had tamed, the animal's ferocity having yielded to the…

Naginata blade by Minamoto Lemichi

Naginatas were often used by foot soldiers to create space on the battlefield. They have several situational advantages over a sword. Their reach was longer, allowing the wielder to keep out of reach of his opponent. The long shaft offered it more…

Portrait of Tomoe Gozen
Tomoe Gozen (1161?–1184?) was one of the few examples of a true female samurai in all of Japanese history. Her main weapon of choice was the Naginata.
This picture was drawn by Kikuchi Yosai (1781-1878). As the son of a samurai, he was adopted by…
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