The chokutō ( 直刀 , "straight sword") is a straight, single-edged Japanese sword that was produced prior to the 9th century. Its basic style is likely derived from similar swords of ancient China. Chokutō were used on foot for stabbing or slashing and were worn hung from the waist. Until the Heian period such swords were called tachi (大刀), which should not be confused with tachi written as 太刀 referring to curved swords.
The production of swords in Japan is divided into specific time periods:
The chokutō was among the earliest chinese types of sword to be forged in Japan, its basic style and forging techniques probably originated in ancient China. From there, chokutō was brought to Japan by way of Korean Peninsula and China in the Han Dynasty times.It was created before the development of differential tempering in Japanese swordsmithing. Chokutō typically come in hira-zukuri and kiriha-zukuri tsukurikomi (blade styles) which make them very distinct from later tachi and katana which rarely use these forms. Swords of this period are classified as jōkotō and are often referred to in distinction from Japanese swords.
Chokutō as a weapon died out by the middle of the Heian period, in the 10th century. And as a weapon, it was completely replaced by the Japanese sword, which is known today for its deep and graceful curves. The first sword with this curve was called Kenukigata-tachi (ja:毛抜形太刀), which was made by improving Warabitetō (ja:蕨手刀) used by Emishi in Tohoku region.And Kenukigata-tachi evolved into tachi , which became the mainstream of Japanese swords for a long time.
In today's Japan, straight swords made with the techniques after tachi, which have nothing to do with the historical chokutō, are also collectively called chokutō, and these are sometimes used in traditional ceremonies.
A Japanese sword is one of several types of traditionally made swords from Japan. Bronze swords were made as early as the Yayoi period, though most people generally refer to the curved blades made after the Heian period when speaking of "Japanese swords". There are many types of Japanese swords that differ by size, shape, field of application and method of manufacture. Some of the more commonly known types of Japanese swords are the katana, tachi, odachi, wakizashi, and tantō.
A tachi (太刀) was a type of traditionally made Japanese sword (nihonto) worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. Tachi and katana generally differ in length, degree of curvature, and how they were worn when sheathed, the latter depending on the location of the mei, or signature, on the tang. The tachi style of swords preceded the development of the katana, which was not mentioned by name until near the end of the twelfth century. Tachi were the mainstream Japanese swords of the Kotō period between 900 and 1596. Even after the Muromachi period (1336–1573), when katana became the mainstream, tachi were often worn by high-ranking samurai.
The wakizashi is one of the traditionally made Japanese swords (nihontō) worn by the samurai in feudal Japan.
The daishō—literally "big-little"—is a Japanese term for a matched pair of traditionally made Japanese swords (nihonto) worn by the samurai class in feudal Japan.
This is a list of types of swords.
Yari (槍) is the term for a traditionally-made Japanese blade (nihonto) in the form of a spear, or more specifically, the straight-headed spear. The martial art of wielding the yari is called sōjutsu.
A tantō is one of the traditionally made Japanese swords (nihonto) that were worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The tantō dates to the Heian period, when it was mainly used as a weapon but evolved in design over the years to become more ornate. Tantō were used in traditional martial arts (tantojutsu). The term has seen a resurgence in the West since the 1980s as a point style of modern tactical knives, designed for piercing or stabbing.
A kodachi, literally translating into "small or short tachi (sword)", is one of the traditionally made Japanese swords (nihontō) used by the samurai class of feudal Japan. Kodachi are from the early Kamakura period (1185–1333) and are in the shape of a tachi. Kodachi are mounted in tachi style but with a length of less than 60 cm. They are often confused with wakizashi, due to their length and handling techniques. However, their construction is what sets the two apart, as kodachi are a set length while wakizashi are forged to complement the wielder's height or the length of their katana. As a result, the kodachi was too short to be called a sword properly but was also too long to be considered a dagger, thus it is widely considered a primary short sword, unlike the tantō or the Wakizashi which would act as a secondary weapon that was used alongside a longer blade.
An ōdachi (大太刀) or nodachi was a type of traditionally made Japanese sword used by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The Chinese equivalent of this type of sword in terms of weight and length is the miao dao, and the Western battlefield equivalent is the longsword or claymore.
The nagamaki is a type of traditionally made Japanese sword (nihontō) with an extra long handle, used by the samurai class of feudal Japan.
Japanese sword mountings are the various housings and associated fittings (tosogu) that hold the blade of a Japanese sword when it is being worn or stored. Koshirae (拵え) refers to the ornate mountings of a Japanese sword used when the sword blade is being worn by its owner, whereas the shirasaya is a plain undecorated wooden mounting composed of a saya and tsuka that the sword blade is stored in when not being used.
An uchigatana (打刀) is a type of Japanese sword worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The uchigatana was the descendant of the tachi.
The Kogarasu Maru (小烏丸), or "Little Crow Circle", is a unique Japanese tachi sword believed to have been created by legendary Japanese smith Amakuni during the 8th century AD.
Japanese swordsmithing is the labour-intensive bladesmithing process developed in Japan for forging traditionally made bladed weapons (nihonto) including katana, wakizashi, tantō, yari, naginata, nagamaki, tachi, nodachi, ōdachi, kodachi, and ya (arrow).
Fujiwara no Hidesato, was a kuge of tenth century Heian Japan. He is famous for his military exploits and courage and is regarded as the common ancestor of numerous clans, including the Ōshū branch of the Fujiwara clan.
A katana is a Japanese sword characterized by a curved, single-edged blade with a circular or squared guard and long grip to accommodate two hands. Following tachi, it was used by samurai in feudal Japan and worn with the blade facing upward. Since the Muromachi period, many old tachi were cut from the root and shortened, and the blade at the root was crushed and converted into katana. The official term for katana in Japan is uchigatana (打刀) and the term katana (刀) often refers to single-edged swords from around the world.
The guntō was a ceremonial sword produced for the Imperial Japanese army and navy after the introduction of conscription in 1872.
This is the glossary of Japanese swords, including major terms the casual reader might find useful in understanding articles on Japanese swords. Within definitions, words set in boldface are defined elsewhere in the glossary.
Omura Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Hidaka, Takaoka District, Kōchi Prefecture, Japan.