The Tonbokiri (蜻蛉切) is one of three legendary Japanese spears created by the famed swordsmith Fujiwara Masazane, said to be wielded by the daimyō Honda Tadakatsu, a leading general of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
The spear derives its name from the myth that a dragonfly landed on its blade and was instantly cut in two. Thus tonbo (Japanese for "dragonfly") and kiri (Japanese for "cutting"), translating this spear's name as "Dragonfly Cutter".
The weapon, along with Nihongō and Otegine, is listed as one of "three great spears" in the Kyōhō Meibutsucho, a listing of famous Koto blades made before the Nanbokucho period and compiled by the Hon'ami family during the Kyōhō era (1716–1735).
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 pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range and striking power. Pole weapons are predominantly melee weapons, with a subclass of spear-like designs fit for both thrusting and throwing. Because many pole weapons were adapted from agricultural implements or other tools in fairly large amount of abundance, and contain relatively little metal, they were cheap to make and readily available. When warfare breaks out and the belligerents have a poorer class who cannot pay for dedicated weapons made for war, military leaders often resort to the appropriation of tools as cheap weapons. The cost of training was minimal, since these conscripted farmers had spent most of their lives in the familiar use of these "weapons" in the fields. This made polearms the favored weapon of peasant levies and peasant rebellions the world over.
A spear is a pole weapon consisting of a shaft, usually of wood, with a pointed head. The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with fire hardened spears, or it may be made of a more durable material fastened to the shaft, such as bone, flint, obsidian, iron, steel, or bronze. The most common design for hunting or combat spears since ancient times has incorporated a metal spearhead shaped like a triangle, lozenge, or leaf. The heads of fishing spears usually feature barbs or serrated edges.
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.
A dragonfly is an insect belonging to the order Odonata, infraorder Anisoptera. Adult dragonflies are characterized by large, multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong, transparent wings, sometimes with coloured patches, and an elongated body. Dragonflies can be mistaken for the related group, damselflies (Zygoptera), which are similar in structure, though usually lighter in build; however, the wings of most dragonflies are held flat and away from the body, while damselflies hold their wings folded at rest, along or above the abdomen. Dragonflies are agile fliers, while damselflies have a weaker, fluttery flight. Many dragonflies have brilliant iridescent or metallic colours produced by structural colouration, making them conspicuous in flight. An adult dragonfly's compound eyes have nearly 24,000 ommatidia each.
Kukishin-ryū (九鬼神流), originally "Nine Gods Divine School" is a Japanese martial art allegedly founded in the 14th century CE by Kuki Yakushimaru Ryūshin. It is a sōgō bujutsu, meaning that it teaches several different weapons/arts such as taijutsu, bōjutsu, naginatajutsu, kenpō, hanbōjutsu, sōjutsu and heiho. Kukishin-ryū and its founder are listed in the Bugei Ryūha Daijiten or "The Encyclopedia of Martial Art Schools", a record of modern (gendai) and old lineage (koryū) Japanese martial schools.
Dao are single-edged Chinese swords, primarily used for slashing and chopping. The most common form is also known as the Chinese sabre, although those with wider blades are sometimes referred to as Chinese broadswords. In China, the dao is considered one of the four traditional weapons, along with the gun, qiang (spear), and the jian, called in this group “The General of Weapons".
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.
The Kyōhō Reforms were an array of economic and cultural policies introduced by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1736 Japan, during the Edo period. These reforms were instigated by the eighth Tokugawa shōgun of Japan, Tokugawa Yoshimune, encompassing the first twenty years of his shogunate.
Masamune (正宗), also known as Gorō Nyūdō Masamune, was a medieval Japanese blacksmith who is widely recognized as Japan's greatest swordsmith. He created swords and daggers, known in Japanese as tachi and tantō respectively, in the Sōshū school. However, many of his forged tachi were made into katana by cutting the tang (nakago) in later times. For this reason, his only existing works are katana and tantō. No exact dates are known for Masamune's life. It is generally agreed that he made most of his swords between 1288 and 1328. Some stories list his family name as Okazakii, but some experts believe this is a fabrication to enhance the standing of the Tokugawa family.
Honda Tadakatsu, also called Honda Heihachirō was a Japanese samurai, general of the late Sengoku through early Edo periods, who served Tokugawa Ieyasu. Honda Tadakatsu was one of the Tokugawa Four Heavenly Kings along with Ii Naomasa, Sakakibara Yasumasa and Sakai Tadatsugu.
Kyōhō (享保), also pronounced Kyōho, was a Japanese era name after Shōtoku and before Gembun. This period spanned the years from July 1716 through April 1736. The reigning emperors were Nakamikado-tennō (中御門天皇) and Sakuramachi-tennō (桜町天皇).
Okinawan Kobudō (沖縄古武道), literally "old martial way of Okinawa", is the weapon systems of Okinawan martial arts.
Kyoho grapes are a Concord-like cross popular in East Asia. The fruits are blackish-purple, or almost black, with large seeds and juicy flesh with high sugar content and mild acidity. The variety was first produced by a Japanese viniculturist, Yasushi Ohinoue in the 1930s and 1940s, by crossing Ishiharawase and Centennial grape varieties. Like the Concord, Kyoho is a slip-skin variety, meaning that the skin is easily separated from the fruit. The seeds are bitter and the skin is not traditionally eaten. The grape maintains some of the flavor qualities of the Concord, known to consumers from the flavor of most grape jellies and Concord grape juice.
Hoko yari is an ancient form of Japanese spear or yari said to be based on a Chinese spear. The hoko yari came into use sometime between the Yayoi period and the Heian period, possibly during the Nara period in the 8th century AD.
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. Developed later than the 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.
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.