Ninjato Sword: The Japanese Assassin’s Sword
The Ninjato sword, or Shinobigatana, is a kind of Japanese sword shrouded in a great deal of mystery. The sword is known for its short length and single edge and is often represented as the primary weapon of the Ninja. It is employed by contemporary martial arts practitioners such as Masaaki Hatsumi and Stephen Hayes.
In this article, we’ll talk about the features of the Ninjato sword, the different kinds of Ninjato blades, the best ones you can find on the market, and the Ninjato sword’s history. Let’s look into the Ninjato sword to find out if it really existed and how it would have been used.
Characteristics of the Ninjato Sword
The straight and short blade of the Ninjato is by far the most common way to recognize its characteristics. Unlike the Katana and other types of Japanese swords, it does not have a curve. The guard of the Ninjato is also different from the other swords because it is square.
These qualities are purposefully designed so that a great amount of power may be packed into a more compact blade. It is designed for a single task – one strike, one kill. Something that the Ninjato sword was undoubtedly capable of doing if it had been used.
Shape & Appearance
The Ninjato is a very small sword with characteristics similar to other swords from Japan. It has a perfectly straight blade with a very sharp edge at the end. It is small and usually carried by Ninjas or Samurai warriors in scabbards or sheaths. It looks like something Ninjas could use as a tool, but it is also a very good weapon for killing – something commonly depicted in anime.
Length & Weight
The weight of a Ninjato sword typically ranges from 420 to 500 grams. It is quite light yet packs a significant amount of punch behind it. The length of this short sword is about 48 – 50 cm but can be as long as 60 cm.
This means that the short sword is ideal for quick and deadly use when required.
The blade of the Ninjato sword is thick, short, and has a razor-sharp and powerful edge. The length of its blade is around 50 cm. The blade was always sharpened if used for battle, and it could pierce through Samurai’s armor as if made from butter.
Iron was sometimes used to make the blade. It was much cheaper than making the Katana. But with time, the Ninjato’s blade was made by skilled swordsmiths using Tamahagane. This made it extremely deadly in the hands of ninjas, who were secret assassins.
Some studies have also stated that a certain god made for the Ninjato to have a straight blade. This is because the ninjas might have copied Fudo Myo Oh’s sword. He was known as the Buddhist god who protected the ninja family. It is said that he used a straight-bladed sword like a Chokuto.
The types of Ninjato swords depend on the edge of the blade.
- Traditional Kissaki Ninjato – this blade has a normal-looking blade edge like the Katana with a slight curvature at the end.
- Kiriha Zukuri Kissaki Ninjato – this is the most typical shape of the Ninjato blade and is easily recognizable by the blade’s edge that is without a curvature at the end. This shape made the sword much more powerful for slashing than stabbing.
Grip & Handle & Pommel
The handle length of the Ninjato sword was around 20 – 25 cm long. This made it look like a standard long sword when sheathed. It had a wrap handle which provided a firm grip when slashing enemies at close range.
The Pommel, otherwise known as the Kashira, is the basic cap at the end of the Ninjato handle.
The Ninjato sword’s guard, also called the Tsuba, was mostly square-shaped. This differs from the Katana, whose tsuba may also be round or square. When slashing quickly and very effectively with the Ninjato sword, the square hand guard gave the user the necessary safety.
It was a slashing weapon, not a stabbing one, so the square guard proved much more useful. But some say that the purpose of the bigger Tsuba was mainly because it was a daily activity tool.
The scabbard, otherwise known as Saya, was much longer than the Ninjato sword. Usually, the length of the scabbard would be around 80 cm or 90 cm. Its purpose was to trick the enemy into confusion. It may also have been used as a snorkeling device when used by ninjas.
The sharp angle at the end of the sheath is made of metal but has a matte finish so that it doesn’t sparkle when light reflects off it.
Some historians say that the Ninjato was a utility tool as well as a weapon. It was used for various daily activities, and the length of the scabbard was used to fill it with various needed objects.
Construction of the Ninjato Sword
Japanese Ninjato swords are made from a metal called Tamahagane. Since they are hand forged and made over a charcoal fire that isn’t as hot, there are fewer impurities. When making a Japanese sword, both the Shingane (softer steel) and the Kawane are used.
The Shingane makes the sword flexible, and the Kawane makes it very sharp. Folding and pounding a sword gets rid of flaws and makes it strong. As part of the forging process, the Shingane is placed between two pieces of Tamahagane or a folded piece of Tamahagane.
The Ninja sword stays both flexible and sharp because it is made of two kinds of metal. Before the sword is completed, there is a lot of folding and hammering needed.
Ninjatos have straight edges because low-carbon steel was used to make them. Back then, most Japanese people didn’t have access to high-carbon steel, so they used a different material. Because they were forged, the edges of the Ninjatos were straight instead of curved.
Usage of the Ninjato
The Ninjato was mostly used for slashing but could thrust and stab. Because the sword’s blade length was shorter and the scabbard longer, it could be pulled out of the scabbard faster than the opponent would expect.
The Ninjato would have been more suitable for use inside a building than the Katana because it didn’t need as much room to swing. A straight-bladed Ninjato would be better for stabbing and thrusting, so it would be a better weapon to use against a Samurai than a weapon with a curved blade.
As the Samurai wore Lamellar armor, they were better protected from cutting than from stabbing attacks. Since Samurai rarely fought against short swords, it was easy for Ninjas to fool Samurais at night into thinking they were holding a long Katana.
Don’t forget that all of the uses we’ve discussed so far are ideas and speculations. The use of the Ninjato sword most likely came from Hollywood, and this is as close as we can get to how it would have been used in the past.
Best Ninjato Swords Available
Before buying a Ninjato, you may view it simply as a Ninja sword. However, if you want a real Ninjato, keep an eye out for its short blade characteristics. Many swords on the market will be advertised as Ninja swords, but only some of them will be real Ninjato.
We’ve compiled a list of the best possible Ninjato swords to satisfy your needs.
Best Overall – Hanwei Practical Shinobi Ninjato
This best overall sword is the Hanwei Practical Shinobi Ninjato. If you want a replica of what a Ninjato sword would feel and look like, you would definitely want to acquire this moderately priced sword set.
The blade is handmade from high-carbon steel that has been heated using a traditional method called claying. All of the fittings are made of black iron that has been aged. The kuji-kiri (hand positions that channel energy) used by the mysterious ninja are shown on the ornate tsuba.
The tsuka is made of fake black ray skin, and the tsuka-ito is made of fake black leather. The saya is black and has a flat finish. The black Japanese cotton sageo has demon-head bindings, and the end of the saya has an intricate kojiri. This sword is definitely what a Ninjutsu master would have wielded.
Best Premium – Hanwei Kouga Ninjato sword
This Ninjato sword is the correct length and shape of a real Ninjato. It has a small, compact, but very strong and sharp blade that is ready for battle. The Kouga – a family and dynasty in Japan’s past – created these high-quality swords, making them fairly costly.
This Kouga Ninjato has a Tsuka made of black ray skin with a battle wrap over it. The Kouga Mon and pierced Kanji are on the blackened iron Tsuba (pommel). These are also on the Fuchi/Kashira (next to the grip to strengthen the blade).
The Kanji and Mon are also used on the blackened parts of the spiked scabbard. The Kouga has a forged high-carbon blade that has been quenched in two different ways to make the edge 60HRc hard.
Best for LARP – Hanzo Steel Black Ninjato Assasin Sword
The black blade of this Hanzo Steel Ninja Assassin Ninjato is razor-sharp 1060 high carbon steel with a blackened titanium coating, making it ideal for covert nighttime operations. It comes with a short, black scabbard. This is how a Ninjato would look, the only difference being the curvature of the blade.
The battle-ready Ninjato has a short blade to make it simple and quick to draw and makes it easier to use in tight indoor spaces where a longer sword would be hard to use. The grip is longer than usual to give the user more power when they strike.
Best on a Budget – Shinwa White Ninjato Damascus Sword
This Ninjato Damascus sword is exceptionally well priced. It has the basic characteristics of a real Ninjato sword, and comes in a white wooden scabbard and handle wrap. It has a short, compact blade with the proper edge.
The steel is of the Damascus type, which is made by folding multiple types of steel. It combines well very well with the white. The sword is moderately sharpened and would be a great addition to the collection of every Japanese sword fan.
How to Take Care of Your Ninjato sword
Even though the main purpose of a sword is to cut, these swords should never be used to cut a hard object as it would damage the blade. Care should be taken so that the tape or leather binding on the handle and the mounting don’t get damaged. In the United States, finding a swordsmith who can fix a handle is nearly impossible.
Never touch the blade with your hand!
Contact is harmful and causes corrosion. Oiling the sword prevents rust. Heavyweight oil will cause dust to collect inside the scabbard, so using lightweight oil is better. Keeping a sword in a salty environment requires monthly oiling.
Oil it every three months if you live in a mountainous area. Wipe old oil from the blade with a facial tissue. Sprinkle uchi-ko or talcum powder on the blade and then wipe off the powder with a clean tissue before oiling the blade.
Oiling is key to keeping a Ninjato sword in good condition. Unfortunately, there is hardly anyone in the US that can take care of your Ninjato swords if damaged, so you must be extra careful with it.
History of the Ninjato sword
The history of the Ninjato sword is shrouded with mystery, just like the history of the ninja. We don’t know much about the Ninjato’s history because no proof of its existence has ever been found. In fact, there is no proof that the straight-bladed Ninja sword existed before the Edo period. We only have reliable records of Ninjato history from the 20th century to the present.
Some of the Ninja’s jobs required them to use swords, but the blades that are called “ninja swords” were all made during the Edo period. Historians weren’t able to find any real ninja swords that were used before that time.
No one knows if the Ninjato existed in feudal Japan either. Aside from the sword itself, nothing is known about its parts. It is true that they used swords to do their jobs, but it is not known if these swords were called “Ninjato.”
Some people would even argue and call any weapon that was used by the Shinobi-Ninjas, a Ninjato. This is speculative and hasn’t been validated.
So to sum it up, the real Ninjato started existing in Holywood from the 20th century. It has grown to be a big part of the modern movie and anime culture as well as playing a big part in the modern ninjutsu martial arts.
Is the Ninjato a Real Sword from History?
Even though its name didn’t appear anywhere, the Ninjato is probably a real sword from Japanese history. The small, compact blade is mentioned in many old texts, and facts show that ninjas used them.
It’s safe to say that the Ninjato is a real sword now since it’s made and sold by more than one company. But proof that it existed in feudal Japan is still lacking. Because Ninjas are so secretive, it’s possible that the proof has been lost over time. Or, the sword may have been lost for a long time and only recently been found. The answer to this question is still up for debate, but the Ninjato of today is a very real sword.
Ninjato vs Katana
The Ninjato is not a Katana sword. The biggest difference between the Ninjato and the Katana is their curvature. The Ninjato looks like a Chokuto, which has a straight blade, whereas the Katana has a curved blade.
This variation in the blades also means there is a big difference in the edges and usage. The Katana is used for stabbing and thrusting through flesh, while the Ninjato is used for slashing.
A standard Ninjato had a blade that was 48 cm long and shorter than the Katana. It was never more than 60 cm long. Based on its length and width, the Ninjato was a light sword that allowed its user to move quickly. Since spying was their main job, the Shinobi liked swords that were shorter and straighter.
On the other hand, the Katana was between 60 and 80 cm long and usually weighed between 1.1 and 1.5 kg. The Katana could have been used in 1v1 situations or even in full-battle-type scenarios.
The Katana, with its appearance and characteristics, made it a very convenient and a better weapon to use in battle, while the Ninjato was used as a hidden weapon and as a daily utility tool.
The crafting procedure between these two is very different as well. The Katana needed much more quality and time than the Ninjato. That is why the Japanese Katana remains the most prestigious Japanese weapon today.
Was the Ninjato Worn on a Ninja’s Back?
Definitely not. When the sword sticks out of a person’s back, it would make it hard to hide, escape through tight or narrow spaces, or climb on tree branches or rafters. Ninjas would sometimes roll on the ground as a way to get away without being seen. It would be hard for them to move in this way with a sword on their back.
The Ninjato was mostly held in a Shinobi’s or Ninja’s hand. It was a tool that made the soldier’s life easier because it could cut, club, climb, tie, bind, and much more. This also made it easier to use in case it was needed. It was also sometimes kept in its sheath.
The Japanese Samurai sword was sometimes tied to a person’s back with a rope. This was only done in very dangerous situations, like when the person was swimming or running for a long distance. This means that the Ninjato has also been used this way, but not very often.
Zasaguri No Jutsu – Ninjato Fighting Method
When a Ninja is engaged in combat in the dark, they find their opponents by latching the scabbard onto the point of the sword. Since it is hooked on the very end, the length is effectively doubled.
The other end of the shitao (the feather of the scabbard) is then inserted into the mouth. They would travel forward in a straight line, patiently waiting for the enemy to strike.
When the enemy touches the scabbard or attacks and ruins the scabbard, the Ninja will almost instantly respond with a deadly strike using the Ninjato. The sheath will fly off into the darkness from the incoming strike. However, the shitao, which was previously placed in his mouth, allows the scabbard to be gathered even in the dark.
Whether or not the Ninjato was really a sword used by Ninjas, it is very popular today, and it was probably used in some Shinobi activities in some way. It has all the qualities of a deadly, silent weapon that can kill a target without a fight. However, the most important thing for a ninja, as the saying goes, is to win without fighting.