Tachi Swords: Meaning, History and Where to Buy
In Japanese history, the samurai wielded different types of swords in battles. The tachi marks the beginning of the Japanese
Learn more about its history and how it differs from katana, odachi, and wakizashi. We also rounded up some tips on choosing the best tachi
How to Choose the Best
When choosing a tachi
Type of Steel
Functional samurai swords have high carbon steel blades. The most commonly used type is 1095 high carbon steel, which contains 0.95 percent carbon. There are also swords made of spring steel, which has a small amount of silicon to make them resistant to extreme bending.
Quality of Blade
Japanese samurai swords are clay tempered, which gives you the highest quality blades. Clay tempering is a process that creates a flexible spine and a hard cutting edge. If the whole blade is as hard as its cutting edge, then the
If you’re looking for battle ready swords, opt for full tang blades. Full tang means that the part of the
Top 4 Tachi Swords Available Online
The samurai tachi comes in many different styles at various price points. Whether you’re starting a collection or looking for a
1. Best Overall: Hand Forged Clay Tempered 1095 High Carbon Steel
Including the tang, the
With a budget less than $600, you have lots of options for personalizing your tachi
Since high carbon steel blades are less resistant to corrosion, you have to remember to keep your tachi
2. Best Premium: Clay Tempered & Folded 1095 Steel Gold-Plated Copper Fitting Tachi
Featuring a full tang and sharpened blade, the length of the blade is around 70 centimeters while its overall length measures 103 centimeters long. You can also opt to have it unsharpened for iaido. Without the saya or scabbard, the
For a budget of around $1,400, you can own a tachi with decorative qualities as well. The
3. Best on a Budget:
Sword Damascus Folded Steel Battle Ready Very Sharp
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly
Although the Damascus steel blade is not the best quality, this
Since the blade is not clay tempered, it does not feature a genuine hamon—if there is any. Instead, this Damascus blade features a mottled look, waves, and swirls, created by the forging process. However, it definitely won’t replace the beauty of a natural hamon.
4. Best for Cosplay: Tachi
Sword 1060 Carbon Steel with White Saya
The blade is composed of 0.60 percent carbon, offering a good balance of strength and hardness. Compared to higher carbon blades, it is more resistant to corrosion and rust. Since it is full tang and sharpened, you can also use the
With a budget of less than $300, you’ll be able to get your own tachi for cosplay. It comes in white-and-gray hardwood saya, which goes well with almost any outfit. Although the store lets you build your tachi in their app, prices vary with each customization.
Important Facts about Tachi
The term tachi refers to the early curved swords of Japan, primarily used from the Heian to Muromachi periods. Here are the things you should know about the tachi
The tachi is a single-edged
The tachi is the earliest single-edged
Tachi blades range from 44 to 67 centimeters long.
The samurai of feudal Japan used tachi as a cavalry
Compared to other Japanese swords, the tachi was more efficient to use from horseback than fighting on foot. Since the samurai wore the
Only a few early tachi have survived up to our times.
During the medieval period in Japan, many tachi swords were cut down to make shorter swords like uchigatana and katana. One of the earliest tachi swords to have survived intact is the Kogarasu-Maru of the Taira family that is now part of the imperial collection.
Tachi in the History of Japanese Swords
Every period in Japanese history saw gradual changes to the shape and design of tachi swords. In fact, the length of tachi blades varied depending on the military strategies of the time. Eventually, several types of swords emerged, including the odachi, uchigatana, wakizashi, and katana.
During the Kofun period from the 3rd to 7th centuries, swords were straight and short, modeled after the blades of China and Korea. The terms commonly used to describe various Kofun swords are chokuto and tachi. Chokuto swords were straight and single-edged.
When these chokuto swords were equipped with a set of mountings, including a hilt and scabbard, they were referred to as tachi. Kofun-period tachi swords were straight and crudely made and. They are also referred to as jokoto tachi to distinguish them from the curved tachi developed in later periods.
During the Heian period, between 794 and 1185, swordsmiths began to develop curved and differentially-tempered blades. Since the Tachi was the first Japanese
The curved blade of the tachi was likely a response to the military tactics that included more cavalry usage. Since the curved blade resulted in sharper swords and easier cuts, warriors on horseback used them to slash down from a higher position.
The tachi with curved blades also became the standard weapon for the Heian warrior, who wore the
In the 12th century, the samurai class of feudal Japan had a strong demand for efficient and functional swords. Therefore, the Japanese
Japanese swords continued to evolve and improve during the Kamakura period, acquiring more curvature and better construction. The tachi blades from this period ranged from 69 cm to 79 cm in length, and many of them are still in existence today.
From 1333 to 1392, the samurai fought on foot rather than from horseback, a factor that influenced the design and size of swords. The odachi or nodachi with a cutting edge of 90 centimeters in length or more were made.
These blades were longer than a normal tachi, so the samurai carried them on their backs. Hence, they were also referred to as the seoidachi, meaning back-carried tachi. Some of the odachi swords that have survived to this day functioned as an offering to a temple rather than a weapon for combat.
Within the Muromachi period emerged the Sengoku period, when Japan was in constant civil war. It was customary for samurai to carry swords in the tachi style: slung from the waist with the cutting edge facing down. The samurai wore tachi suspended from the belt, and a mid-length
The tachi blades ranged from approximately 66 to 72 centimeters, but they were too long to be drawn or wielded comfortably. Since the fighting was mostly in enclosed spaces, many soldiers favored the mid-length
Later, it became fashionable to wear swords through the belt—with the cutting edge facing up. For this reason, many wakizashi, a short sword between 30 and 60 centimeters long, were produced. In the late Muromachi period, katana swords replaced tachi swords.
Sword vs. Katana Sword
Although both swords are single-edged and curved, the tachi blades tend to have a more pronounced curvature. They were often longer than katana blades, though the latter were not fashioned in any standard length. Usually, the katana measured about 60 centimeters in length. Throughout history, the blade length of tachi varied but was eventually fixed between 44 to 67 centimeters.
The Japanese tachi swords were also distinguished from katana because they were worn differently. The samurai wore the tachi with its cutting edge facing down, while the katana with its cutting edge facing up, tucked into the belt. It also means that the tachi functioned better as a cavalry
The Mei or Signature on the Tang
In the 15th century, many tachi swords were shortened and worn as katanas. In some cases, the only way to tell whether the samurai
For tachi, swordsmiths traditionally carved their signatures on the side of the tang that would face out when carried. On the other hand, the katana had the signature on the opposite side of the tang.
However, shortening the tachi involved shortening the tang, so some swords would often lose the signature of their makers. Also, when it became the norm to wear tachi as katana, swordsmiths would respond by intentionally placing their signatures on the opposite side of the tang.
What is Tachi Used For?
An authentic tachi is an object of art and a piece of Japanese history, so
Battle-ready tachi have full tang blades, so they are often used in tameshigiri, which tests both the blade and the skill of the practitioner. While most Japanese martial arts use wooden swords called bokken, some schools also use tachi for demonstration, such as to cut bamboo, tatami mats, and other objects.
In Japanese history, the samurai warriors heavily depended on their tachi swords to win their battles. With the introduction of European firearms in Japan in the 16th century, the military use of Japanese swords declined. Today, tachi swords remain an object of fascination for collectors,