What is a Nihonto and what types are there?

Published by Supein Nihonto on

What is a Nihonto and what types are there?

Before talking about the types of Nihonto (日本刀) we should specify what is a Nihonto (日本刀). Although we could write entire books about the world of Japanese Katanas, it is not my intention to delve too deeply into such an extensive subject, for this there are dozens of books that undoubtedly do much better than we could do, so let’s go to try instruct the buyer first-and-a-half through these posts from useful and basic information about Japanese weapons and other aspects of the Bushido theme.

The term Nihonto (日本刀) is used to name authentic japanese weapons made with artisanal manufacturing processes by specialized artisans with specific materials such as tamahagane steel, a special low carbon steel (about 1-1.5%). Thus, katanas, the best known weapon can be considered Nihonto or not depending on the forging process. Many people have katanas at home, but few have authentic Nihonto.

Once it is explained in a basic way what a Nihonto is, we are going to see some types. Naming them all again would be an arduous task and we will get to know them throughout the following posts.
The best known Nihonto are the Katana, the The Wakizashi and the Tanto. It is said that one of the first Europeans who set foot on Japan wrote about the Samurai: Japanese warriors usually carry three types of weapons: one to attack (Katana) another to defend (The Wakizashi) and another to commit suicide (tantō).

Estas tres arma son sin duda las más famosas y conocidas de los Bushi o guerreros samurái. Se diferencian principalmente por el tamaño de la hoja, siendo la Katana la más grande con 60.6 centímetros de longitud o más.

El Wakizashi con 30.3 cm hasta 60.6 cm y el Tanto con menos de 30.3 centímetros de longitud de hoja (Nagasa). Existen muchos matices y variantes a esto, pero no los trataremos aquí. Además de estas hojas había otras aún más antiguas como el Tachi, equivalente a la katana o el Kodachi, equivalente al Wakizashi de periodos anteriores al Japón feudal.
Adicionalmente a éstas también tenemos otras armas como la Naginata, lanza de hoja curvada usada a menudo por monjes guerreros o los Yari, lanzas normalmente más pequeñas que las Naginata y de hoja recta. Además de estos existen infinidad de variantes como el Ken, Uchigatana, Odachi, Katate – Uchi, etc. en los que hablaremos más adelante.


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