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Updated: 24 Jul 2021

Episode 8: Sword Mountings(KOSHIRAE)

Episode 8: Sword Mountings:
All You Need to Know About KOSHIRAE – SAYA, TSUBA, and so forth

Welcome back to another episode of Katana Archives.
Are you fully aware of what makes up a piece of Katana? Besides its blade (Technically referred to as TO-SHIN/刀身; Blade-Body), there are a few more things to be inspected and admired in Japanese swords. Let’s take a look at them today.

 

INDEX
KOSHIRAE (拵え; Mountings)
1, TSUBA (鍔; Handguard)
2, KOZUKA (小柄; Small Knife )
3, TSUKA (柄; Hilt)
4, MENUKI (目貫; Hilt decor)
5, FUCHI-KASHIRA (縁頭; Pommel)
6. HABAKI (鎺; )
7, SAYA (鞘; Scabbard)

KOSHIRAE (拵え; Mountings)
The whole category, which refers to all equipment besides the blade, is called KOSHIRAE in Japanese. Below are all parts of Koshirae that you need to have a complete Samurai-style Katana.

 

 

 

 

 

1, TSUBA (鍔; Hand Guard)
Generally, round-shaped metal protection is equipped on the bottom end of To-Shin (Blade), called TSUBA. Below are some of our Tsuba collection. Look how much variety of Tsuba there is in the world of Katana.

Dating back to the Samurai times, especially in the Edo period (1603-1868 A.D.), Samurais would appreciate many different Tsuba. They wanted to show off their political status in public by wearing a neatly-designed Tsuba on the blade.

 

2, KOZUKA (小柄; Small Knife)
Samurais would often put a small knife, KOZUKA, through the hole of Tsuba. It was known for having various use such as cutting fabric, scraping wood, throwing it against the opponent, and such.

They would also put a hairpin (Typically referred to as KO-GAI/笄; Hair-tie) through the other hole. It was known to be one of Samurai’s highest traditional accomplishments to have an identical set of Kozuka, Menuki, and Ko-Gai in the ever-changing fashion trends amongst Samurais.

3, TSUKA (柄; Hilt)
TSUKA is the hilt part of Katana. It is usually comfort-oriented and practical while keeping simplicity and beauty. Rough surfaced stingray covers up the wood body on top of Nakago and thick ropes of cotton tightly binding those pieces in the right place.
There are so many sub-genres in Tsuka, which we would like to come back to in future episodes.

4, MENUKI (目貫; Hilt decor)
In the case of equipment, you hit a bamboo nail MEKUGI (目釘; peg) through the middle part of Tsuka towards the hole on Nakago to fix the tang and Tsuka. There is an attached ornament called MENUKI on each side of Tsuka.

5, FUCHI-KASHIRA (縁頭; Pommel)
Fuchi Kashira is a kind of metal fitting of the Japanese sword, which improves the handle’s strength. Fuchi Kashira is a combination of two parts; Fuchi and Kashira. Fuchi is put next to Tsuba (handguard), and Kashira is placed on the bottom grip. Fuchi Kashira had developed not only its practicality but also beauty for the decoration of the Japanese sword.

6. HABAKI (はばき)
Habaki is the equipment to help the blade kept in the right position in the scabbard. It prevents the blade from getting rusty and chipped. There are various designs of them, such as family crest and slit mark.

7. SAYA (鞘; Scabbard)
Last but not least, or if anything, Koshirae is never complete without a scabbard, SAYA. Katanas’ scabbards should also be categorized into countless different genres that could nearly equal the whole amount of today’s article, but below are some examples.

 

 

By closely inspecting a Japanese sword, you will notice how every single part of it is beautiful and sophisticated by itself.

And, you would gradually recognize how those mountings reflect Samurai’s thoughts and their smiths. That is the very reason why we love to offer you a lot of sword mountings at Samurai Gift as well.

Once you know the history behind them, you would surely be captivated by the majesty of Katana’s culture and those who had enjoyed, loved, and passed it over to the present day. We will see you in the next episode.

 

-SAMURAI MUSEUM-

 

 

 

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