Different types have different lengths and weights
Length and Shape
If you are thinking of collecting Japanese swords, you should know that there are different lengths and weights for different types of Japanese swords! By understanding this, you will be able to find the perfect Japanese sword for your collection to fully enjoy the history and depth of Japanese swords. In this article, we would like to introduce the length and weight of Japanese swords.
Japanese swords are classified according to their length and shape. First, let us explain how they are classified.
A straight sword is a sword with no curve in the blade. It was mainly used until the middle of the Heian period (794-1185) and is also called a "daito.”
Tachi swords tend to have a deep curve, a wide tsubamoto (base of the blade), and gradually become thinner toward the kisaki (tip of the blade). It was widely used from the late Heian period to the Warring States period. Today, a tachi is defined as a sword over 60 cm in length.
O-dachi (Long Tachi)
Among swords classified as tachi, those with longer blades of 90 cm or more in length are called o-dachi (or nodachi).
A kodachi is a sword with a blade of between 30 cm and 60 cm in length. In modern times, it is classified in the same category as the wakizashi.
Uchigatana is a type of sword developed in the Muromachi period (1333-1573) and is classified as uchigatana if the blade length is longer than 60 cm. Most of the swords generally regarded as Japanese swords today are uchigatana.
A tanto is shorter than a wakizashi, with a blade length of less than 30 cm.
A nagamaki is a long sword with a handle that is almost the same length as the blade, from 180 cm to 210 cm.
Like the nagamaki, the naginata has a long handle and a strong bow on the blade.
Weights of Japanese swords
When you see actors dashing around with Japanese swords in period dramas, you may think, "Maybe they are surprisingly light.” or, "Maybe it’s lighter than I thought.” Let's take a look at how heavy a Japanese sword actually is.
The weight of a Japanese sword is said to be around 1 kg, depending on its length, sheath, handle, tsuba (sword guard), and the other parts of the sword fittings (koshirae). Another characteristic of Japanese swords is that they vary in weight depending on the period in which they were made.
Koto, or “old swords,” were made from the mid-Heian to Azuchi-Momoyama periods and were often used on horseback, so the average weight is 600 to 700 grams.
Shinto, swords made from the late Azuchi-Momoyama period to the middle of the Edo period (1603-1868), were not used in actual battles, but were displayed in homes as symbols of warriors in the Edo period when warfare had ceased. Shinto are slightly heavier than koto blades, and most are around 1 kg.
Swords made from the late Edo period to the Meiji period are called "Shinshinto" (new swords). Since the late Edo period, swords were again made for use in warfare and many swordsmiths all over the country were making swords at the time, so the weight of shinshinto swords varies greatly from about 700g up to 1.5kg.
Modern swords are those made as works of art after the abolition of the sword law in the Meiji period (1868-1912). On average, most modern swords weigh from 1 kg to 1.5 kg.
We hope this has helped you in exploring the various types of Japanese swords, and that the background of the period in which they were made also influences the weight and length of each type. One of the charms of Japanese swords is that you can feel the history from their weight and length. When looking for a Japanese sword, please refer to the information in this article and find your ideal Japanese sword.