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Kurogasa55

Swords and Length

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I am still relatively new to the Nihonto collecting world so please forgive me if this is a stupid question.

 

I have two swords that have a cutting edge of exactly 23.6 inches in length. I have heard that there was a time in Japanese history where the katana had a standard length of 23.6 inches and was later increased to 27 or 28 inches. Is this right? Others have told me that they are wakizashi's but i did not think wakizashi's were that long. Any help would be appreciated

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Brandon,

2 shaku is the starting length for long swords, which is 23.86". Your swords are very long wakizashi.

Grey

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Brandon,

2 shaku is the starting length for long swords, which is 23.86". Your swords are very long wakizashi.

Grey

 

That is kind of a tricky question as the shaku has changed length over time....

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How much did the length change? They did seem a little short for Katana but a little long for Wakizashi. If they are long wakisazhi's than what is the minimum length for a katana?

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Historically, there were different kind of shaku. From about 1891 forward, the shaku has equalled about 11.93 inches. A katana is considered to be 2 shaku and over (>23.86"). Thus, by current definition, your blades are a wakizashi. However, practically speaking, they were most likely used as katana.....

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Historically, there were different kind of shaku. From about 1891 forward, the shaku has equalled about 11.93 inches. A katana is considered to be 2 shaku and over (>23.86"). Thus, by current definition, your blades are a wakizashi. However, practically speaking, they were most likely used as katana.....

 

 

That is very interesting. It makes a lot of sense though. The one sword that i have is 23.6 inches but it is also mounted with a wakizashi with it. The Daisho matches perfectly and it was brought back from the WW2 that way. So the Samurai carrying it must of practically viewed it as a katana as well. The tsuka is long enough to be wielded two handed so this must be what it had been used as

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It's a Daisho?

 

Yes. The Longer sword that is 23.6 inches has a companion Wakizashi that has an 18 inch blade. So that is what makes me think it was worn as a katana, but not everyone seems to classify it as such. Both swords have matching fittings.

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Well there were smaller blades worn as Katana-used one handed.

If it's a Daisho-that's obviously the katana of the pair.

I understand your question though- What is it CALLED?

I am fairly new to this field of study, so I could be completely wrong- (

I'd bet it is a Katate Uchi gatana.

Interesting thread on SFI about it too.

http://www.forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=19736

 

I think that translates to one handed strike.

 

May we see some pics?

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Well there were smaller blades worn as Katana-used one handed.

If it's a Daisho-that's obviously the katana of the pair.

I understand your question though- What is it CALLED?

I am fairly new to this field of study, so I could be completely wrong- (

I'd bet it is a Katate Uchi gatana.

Interesting thread on SFI about it too.

http://www.forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=19736

 

I think that translates to one handed strike.

 

interesting. That is pretty much what i thought. Probably intended for one handed use. I will try to get some pics uploaded for you to see.

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Black-Hat (if I may call you that)

Though we cannot see the kojiri on the longer of the two swords it seems pretty obvious that this is the Dai for your Dai-sho and is a Katana, whatever the length.

 

Some things to keep in mind;

 

1.most folks were not that tall and their hands were only so big. Thus shorter katana like yours are not so uncommon.

2.the koshirae often makes the sword; a mumei blade in original tachi mounts would be referred to as a tachi. a mumei blade say 26-28 inches and not of great age would be called a katana for lack of other evidence. A tanto could be put into wakizashi mounts then it would be a wakizashi until you were looking at the blade alone. You can see yari mounted as katana and other examples of things like this. Therefore you need to learn to recognize length and blade geometry as indicators of how it might have been used if there is only shirasaya. Length is not the only criteria though.

3.Dai-sho are more an Edo period thing. So while your blade may have been a katate-uchigatana when made the longer handle suggests two handed use as you point out.

4.Katate-uchigatana not only had the short nakago but also had shorter handles, any sword though can be used for a katate-uchi strike...

 

Also I hope someone will tell the SFI folks that "Katte-uchi" sounds like mumbling and not a contraction of Katate - not a commonly used one anyway.

-t

PS it looks like your set is original and that sir is pretty rare, size not being everything ;)

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a mumei blade say 26-28 inches and not of great age would be called a katana for lack of other evidence.

Some confusing comments in this thread. Let‘s go to the facts, as they are unmistakably established and used in current origamis.

 

Tanto - under 1 shaku (30.3 cm)

Wakizashi - between 1 and 2 shaku

Katana - over 2 shaku

 

There are blades, „sunnobi“ Tantos, which are slightly over 1 shaku. However a blade 60.5 cm is classified as Wakizashi when using the above standard.

 

Therefore your Daisho is by defintion composed by 2 Wakizashi.

 

Eric

post-369-14196791883898_thumb.jpg

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The Shakkanhō 尺貫法 (traditional Chinese measurement system [used in Japan since 701]) was already “standardized” early on, and firmly in place during the Edo period. In 1891 the government merely defined the metric equivalences; in 1924 it was replaced by the metric system.

 

There are two types of Shaku 尺: the “standard” Kanejaku 曲尺 (10/33 meters = 11.93 inches), and the Kujirajaku 鯨尺 (25/66 meters = 14.9 inches) used only for measuring clothes. There also was a Shaku written with a different Kanji - 勺 – used for land pricing and Saké units.

 

The Kanejaku – or Shaku for short – was/is the unit used for sword lengths, and the various government restrictions on sword lengths of the Edo period are based on it.

 

The “standard / average” length during the Edo period was called Teisun 定寸; it’s 2 Shaku 尺 3 Sun 寸 5 Bu 分 (71.2 cm) for Katana, and 8 Sun 寸 5 Bu 分 (25.8 cm) for Tantō. Tantō longer than Teisun are called Sunnobi-Tantō 寸延び短刀, and less than Teisun Sunzumari-Tantō 寸詰まり短刀. There was no standard length for Wakizashi, but those over 1 Shaku 尺 8 Sun 寸, or 54.5 cm, are called Ō-Wakizashi 大脇指. Tachi 太刀 of more than 3 Shaku (90.9 cm) are referred to as Ōdachi 大太刀, whereas Tachi under 2 Shaku 尺 (60.6 cm) are called Kodachi 小太刀.

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Guess my info on different tatami mesurements for houses between, say, Osaka and Tokyo is

just a urban legend.

No, it isn’t, there are indeed different Tatami sizes: in Tōkyō the Edoma (or Kantōma) of 0.88 m by 1.76 m, in Kyōto the Kyōma of 0.955 m by 1.91 m, and in Nagoya the Ainoma of 0.91 m by 1.82 m.
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HISTORICAL CLASSIFICATION OF WAKIZASHI AND THE TAXONOMY OF NIHON-TO BASED ON THEIR BLADE LENGTH AND FUNCTIONS/PURPOSES.*

 

S. Alexander Takeuchi, Ph.D.

Department of Sociology

University of North Alabama

 

January 24, 2004

 

http://www.una.edu/faculty/takeuchi/DrT ... of_wak.htm

 

it was during Tenbun through Eiroku eras (circa 1532 through 1569) that wearing dai-sho pair of uchigatana - that is katana and wakizashi - became a common practice amongst the samurai class. Again, up until later periods, there had been no legally specified lengths for tachi, katana, wakizashi and tanto in Japan. (See Ogasawara, 1994a for more on this.)

 

Since after the end of Muromachi period, the rulers of Japan (e.g., Hideyoshi Toyotomi, Iyeyasu Tokugawa) began issuing a number of executive orders to regulate who were allowed to wear what type swords based mostly on ones ascription all in order to protect the power, status and prestige of the samurai class. Therefore, it was during the late Momoyama period when the specific ranges of blade lengths started becoming the official (=legal) criteria to designate different types of swords into specific categories such as katana, wakizashi, tanto, etc.

 

However, until many years after the end of the Japanese Civil War (circa 1600) those old laws regulating the bearers of swords were not always followed by the people in Japan. This was partially because many of those older laws had varying definitions of katana, wakizashi and tanto in terms of their lengths. As the result, in the beginning of Edo period (early 1600s), there were still some chonin (i.e., townsmen) class commoners and many yakuza gangs who openly carried long wakizashi (i.e., called "oo-wakizashi") that were virtually equivalent in length to prohibited katana (Iiyama, 1995; Kokubo, 1993).

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Black-Hat (if I may call you that)

Though we cannot see the kojiri on the longer of the two swords it seems pretty obvious that this is the Dai for your Dai-sho and is a Katana, whatever the length.

 

Some things to keep in mind;

 

1.most folks were not that tall and their hands were only so big. Thus shorter katana like yours are not so uncommon.

2.the koshirae often makes the sword; a mumei blade in original tachi mounts would be referred to as a tachi. a mumei blade say 26-28 inches and not of great age would be called a katana for lack of other evidence. A tanto could be put into wakizashi mounts then it would be a wakizashi until you were looking at the blade alone. You can see yari mounted as katana and other examples of things like this. Therefore you need to learn to recognize length and blade geometry as indicators of how it might have been used if there is only shirasaya. Length is not the only criteria though.

3.Dai-sho are more an Edo period thing. So while your blade may have been a katate-uchigatana when made the longer handle suggests two handed use as you point out.

4.Katate-uchigatana not only had the short nakago but also had shorter handles, any sword though can be used for a katate-uchi

strike...

 

Also I hope someone will tell the SFI folks that "Katte-uchi" sounds like mumbling and not a contraction of Katate - not a commonly used one anyway.

-t

PS it looks like your set is original and that sir is pretty rare, size not being everything ;)

 

Sounds pretty good to me. It is the only true original Daisho that i have ever found so i also thought it was quite rare. A persons height did occur to me as well because it seemed small for someone of my height(6'3). The Koshirae was my biggest thing on classifying it as a katana, so that helps too.

 

Thanks everyone for all the help! Any more comments would be greatly appreciated as well

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Some confusing comments in this thread. Let‘s go to the facts, as they are unmistakably established and used in current origamis.

 

Tanto - under 1 shaku (30.3 cm)

Wakizashi - between 1 and 2 shaku

Katana - over 2 shaku

 

There are blades, „sunnobi“ Tantos, which are slightly over 1 shaku. However a blade 60.5 cm is classified as Wakizashi when using the above standard.

 

Therefore your Daisho is by defintion composed by 2 Wakizashi.

 

Eric

 

This is very interesting. It never really occurred to me that a Daisho could have two wakizashi as the swords. I always just expected a katana and a wakizashi or a katana and a tanto. You find something new out everyday. Thanks for the info

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There are two types of Shaku 尺: the “standard” Kanejaku 曲尺 (10/33 meters = 11.93 inches), and the Kujirajaku 鯨尺 (25/66 meters = 14.9 inches) used only for measuring clothes. There also was a Shaku written with a different Kanji - 勺 – used for land pricing and Saké units.

 

 

Actually, if you look up shaku on the Japanese (not English) wiki page, you will see that there were quite a few more "shaku" used through history:

 

From China:

 

* 古代中国の嘉量による尺

 

* 漢代の尺

 

約23.09cm

 

* 隋代の大尺

 

約29.4cm

 

* 隋代の小尺

 

約24.6cm

 

* 唐代の大尺

 

約29.4cm

 

* 唐代の小尺

 

約24.6cm

 

Native:

 

* 大宝律令の大尺

 

約35.6cm

高麗尺に由来。土地の計量など。

 

(for land)

 

* 大宝律令の小尺

 

約29.6cm(小尺一尺二寸=大尺一尺)

唐尺に由来。平安時代以降はこれが一般的になる。

 

* 又四郎尺・鉄尺

 

約30.258cm

永正年間に京都の指物師又四郎が定めたとされ、大工が主に用いた。

(used by carpenters)

 

* 享保尺・竹尺

 

約30.363cm

徳川吉宗が紀州熊野神社の古尺を写して天体観測に用いたとされる。

(astronomical observation)

 

* 折衷尺

 

約30.304cm

伊能忠敬が測量のために又四郎尺と享保尺を平均して作ったもの。明治度量衡取締条例における曲尺の根拠とされた。

 

(surveying-an average of the matashiro and kiyoho)

 

* 鯨尺

 

約37.88cm(曲尺一尺二寸五分)

明治度量衡法で25/66mと定められた

主に呉服について用いられる。六尺褌や三尺帯といったときは鯨尺の長さのことである。

またタオルなどの織物の場合、織機に使われる筬の鯨尺1寸(約3.787cm)あたりの本数によって密度が決められる。

 

(for dry goods)

 

* 呉服尺(呉服ざし)

 

約36.4cm(曲尺一尺二寸)

主に呉服について用いられた。鯨尺の一種である。一説には鯨尺を五分短くしたところから出たともいう。

 

(also for dry goods but smaller)

 

* 曲尺(明治度量衡法)

 

約30.303cm(10/33mと定められる)

又四郎尺、享保尺、折衷尺などを勘案して明治期に定められた。通常ただ「尺」といえば曲尺のことをいう.

 

 

According the above, in the Meiji era, the government standardized the shaku, considering the matashirojaku (tetsujaku), kiyohojaku, seichojaku, and others, then defining the "standard shaku", called thereafter, the "kanejaku".....There was no "kanejaku" in the Edo and earlier eras according to this.....

 

 

 

..... was called Teisun 定寸

 

 

I believe the correct pronunciation is "josun"....

 

Now we all know more about the shaku than we ever cared to....

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Hmm, if this pair of swords is an old original set, it leaves me to wonder if this set may have belonged not to a samurai, but actually a bold merchant carrying two wakizashi, one just under the legal limits in order to, perhaps, turn heads and make some people believe that he was actually carrying a katana in his daisho. On this same note, every once in a great while a long very nice wakizashi in fancy mounts all in pristine condition will be seen, where, again, the saya which fits the sword perfectly will be inches longer than expected giving the appearance of katana. Here again, one has to consider a wealthy merchant piece, rather than samurai.

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Hmm, if this pair of swords is an old original set, it leaves me to wonder if this set may have belonged not to a samurai, but actually a bold merchant carrying two wakizashi, one just under the legal limits in order to, perhaps, turn heads and make some people believe that he was actually carrying a katana in his daisho. On this same note, every once in a great while a long very nice wakizashi in fancy mounts all in pristine condition will be seen, where, again, the saya which fits the sword perfectly will be inches longer than expected giving the appearance of katana. Here again, one has to consider a wealthy merchant piece, rather than samurai.

 

Anything is possible but i thought merchants only were permitted to carry one sword no matter what the length. It was my understanding that only the samurai were allowed to carry two swords as the symbol of the rank in society.

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I think we can say with certainly that this daisho belonged to a samurai. Truth is, in Edo Japan, most Japanese were quite smaller in stature than they are today. It is even noticeable in present day when comparing the 80-90 year old Japanese and the high school kids. Not surprising at all that a samurai of the period would carry these swords.

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I think we can say with certainly that this daisho belonged to a samurai. Truth is, in Edo Japan, most Japanese were quite smaller in stature than they are today. It is even noticeable in present day when comparing the 80-90 year old Japanese and the high school kids. Not surprising at all that a samurai of the period would carry these swords.

 

 

I agree. This has been my thoughts all along. I just wanted to see other people's opinions on the matter.

 

If you look throughout history, everyone was much smaller. Suits of armor for Knights, Spartans, Vikings, Samurai and the like that have survived are all much smaller and most people today would not be able to fit into them. People just keep getting bigger.

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