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Kozuka & Kogai Slots in Saya. Who gets what?


DTM72
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I am trying to figure out why some saya have both slots, some have only one, and others have none. I personally have not seen a katana with both, but I have seen katana with just a kozuka and I own one Edo period katana saya with just a kogai slot. I have seen wakizashi and tanto with nothing, with just a kozuka and with kozuka and kogai. Was there ever any method to the madness or was it based more upon the samurais' personal needs?

I do understand that the katana was not normally worn indoors, so accessories would be less useful when relaxing, eating, drinking, etc. so it makes sense that the katana would not bear these items.

 

Someone educate me, please!

 

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Dan, 

In 2018 I unsuccessfully tried to purchase a katana in full koshirae- dragons ( love 'em!) This had kogai and kozuka and was papered- NTHK.

Unfortunately the blade was very poor quality and gimei- also NTHK- last Sydney shinsa.  If not for the blade I would have paid the sellers price. 

They do exhist!

Cheers Mike

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I think there are plenty of koshirae out there that make use of slots on both sides. I was looking at one on Tokka yesterday. 

https://tokka.biz/sword/nobukuni5.html

 

I think the relative peace of the Tokugawa-era meant that the focus becomes less on the utility of these items than on their use as expressions of wealth and taste. Merchants start to spend their money on items like the one in the picture, because they can. So in a sense it is the opposite of what you have posted in your original post: "accessories would be less useful when relaxing". It is the fact that the samurai become idle (mostly), and this stability allows people with money to spend it on flashy items. Also, the competition among daimyo to sponsor the best artisans results in the creation and accumulation of items with more artistic merit. The explosion of bling may be one reason why the government needed to impose restrictions on koshirae that could be used while on official business. If I recall, koshirae had to be black lacquer (rounded ends for wakizashi), and mitokoro-mono had to be simple nanako (with family crest if desired). I wish I could find the original source of this proclamation, because it comes up every now and again, and I'd like to go by something other than my memory. Anyway, that was for samurai on official business. In the privacy of your own home, and among the merchant class, anything goes. If you've got the money, why not have something absolutely gorgeous like the item on the Tokka site. 

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Having a piece mounted as you describe Steve ( nanako with mons etc ) I too would love to know when that regulation came into effect .

I have the auction catalogue from 1928 when the Shimazu daimyo sold a lot of their swords . Virtually all of the Katana have a kogai . Only one side of the sword is shown so you cannot see if there is a kodzuka as well . I wonder if having a kogai in a katana was a status thing .

Ian Brooks

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12 hours ago, SteveM said:

....The explosion of bling may be one reason why the government needed to impose restrictions on koshirae that could be used while on official business. If I recall, koshirae had to be black lacquer (rounded ends for wakizashi), and mitokoro-mono had to be simple nanako (with family crest if desired). I wish I could find the original source of this proclamation, because it comes up every now and again, and I'd like to go by something other than my memory. Anyway, that was for samurai on official business. In the privacy of your own home, and among the merchant class, anything goes. If you've got the money, why not have something absolutely gorgeous like the item on the Tokka site. 

 

Hiya Steve, I remember that article as well! I am pretty certain that it originated from Dr. Takeuchi, who has written a lot about Nihonto over the years, unfortunately even when bookmarked his writings tend to be fugitive on the internet.

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Many years ago I was fortunate to find a near complete wakizashi in style similar to that described by Steve and commented upon by Ian.  I've knocked up a document describing the koshirae, which please find attached.  On the specification Steve noted rounded ends for wakizashi, which as I understand is also a specification for the -sho of a daisho.  This wakizashi has a squared end with the horn kojiri made to match the horn kashira.  Also, the binding goes through the horn kashira in the usual style rather than over the top as for formal wear.  So I'm not sure whether this is a koshirae for official "service", for wear inside the home, or for a merchant to wear.  Perhaps the elaborate appearance of the saya lacquer imitating woodgrain would suggest this is not a formal koshirae, but rather for a non-samurai to wear??

 

BaZZa.

 

 

Norimitsu wakizashi details.doc

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Just out of interest, have any Iaidoka any experience of drawing a sword with kozuka and kogai fitted? It has always struck me that, if I were in need of taking action to defend my life, I would rather do so with as little as possible to get in the way and these are probably an unnecessary frippery but wondered if anyone had practised drawing with them in place?

 

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On 12/16/2020 at 7:11 PM, b.hennick said:

Steve I think that he was just looking for katana. You referenced a tanto 28.8 cm

Really my question is, was there any rhyme or reason that some have both, some have one, some have none...weather it be tanto, wakizashi katana or tachi.

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6 hours ago, Shugyosha said:

Just out of interest, have any Iaidoka any experience of drawing a sword with kozuka and kogai fitted? It has always struck me that, if I were in need of taking action to defend my life, I would rather do so with as little as possible to get in the way and these are probably an unnecessary frippery but wondered if anyone had practised drawing with them in place?

 

Your question may have some merit as to why katana, in warring times, may have not had any accessories and the tanto would hold those.

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