Guide on Wakizashi: The Famous Japanese Short Sword
In feudal Japan, the short
Let’s explore the history and use of the wakizashi, why it became one of the preferred weapons for combat, and where you can get it online.
Characteristics of the Wakizashi
Here are the characteristics of the Japanese short
Metal and Construction
The Japanese samurai swords were among the finest weapons ever made. Traditional swordsmiths forged them from tamahagane steel and used a complex process to create blades that were hard but not brittle. The tamahagane is high carbon steel smelted from iron sands and made from the traditional tatara furnace in Japan.
However, Japanese swords including wakizashi, forged from tamahagane are highly regulated and cannot be mass produced. So, many non-traditional swordsmiths strive to create replicas with damascus steel or high carbon steel blades.
The wakizashi is single-edged and slightly curved, which is the characteristic shape of Japanese swords. Many collectors also value Japanese blades for their aesthetic features, especially the hamon or temperline pattern, achieved by covering the blade in the clay of varying thickness and then quenching it in water. Many wakizashi blades featured horimono or decorative carvings, from floral designs to Buddhist motifs and Sanskrit characters.
Size and Length
In Japan, blades longer than 1 shaku (approximately 30 centimeters) and shorter than 2 shaku (around 60 centimeters) are considered short swords or wakizashi. The blade length starts from the base of the blade, excluding the tang, to the tip.
Some refer to the wakizashi between 30 and 40 centimeters long as ko-wakizashi, meaning small wakizashi. On the other hand, ones that measure up to 60 centimeters long were considered o-wakizashi or big wakizashi.
The owner often had a wakizashi blade in different
Tsuka or Hilt
Traditionally-made wakizashi swords had hilts made of magnolia wood, grooved on the inside to fit the tang. The ray skin covering was also valuable, enhanced by the lozenge-shaped openings of the silk braid wrapping called ito. On the other hand, the menuki ornament on the hilt was not just decorative but also enhanced the wielder’s grip on the weapon.
The tsuba or
Saya or Scabbard
Like the hilt, traditionally-made wakizashi swords had scabbards made of magnolia wood. The
Best Wakizashi Swords Available Online
The wakizashi is one of the most famous samurai swords, sought after by collectors and aficionados. It also remains relevant in some Japanese martial arts, tameshigiri, cosplay, and live-action role-playing games or LARP. To help you find the best short
1. Best Overall: Clay Tempered Wakizashi
For a budget of around $400, this wakizashi
2. Best Premium: Wakizashi and Katana
The wakizashi features a blade length of about 50 centimeters, an average length for a short
3. Best on a Budget: Musha Iaito Wakizashi
With its unsharpened blade of high carbon steel, this wakizashi
However, iaito swords with carbon steel blades are susceptible to rusting, so many still prefer swords made from an aluminum alloy. Many instructors of Japanese martial arts also require their students to have unsharpened swords with aluminum blades instead of high carbon steel.
4. Best for LARP: Wakizashi Foam
Whether you want to play the role of a samurai warrior or dress up like your favorite anime character, this wakizashi
However, this foam wakizashi
Sword vs. Katana Samurai Sword
The main difference between the two swords lies in their length. The Japanese katana sword is a long
When custom dictated that the katana should be left at the entrance, the samurai carried the wakizashi indoors as his only source of protection. During the time, an opponent of samurai rank would have at least one short
The katana was exclusive to the samurai class, but those who were not samurai were allowed to use the wakizashi as a self-defense weapon. Commoners of certain classes such as wealthy merchants and townsmen also flaunted elaborate
Facts About the Samurai Wakizashi
The wakizashi was the short companion
Here are the things you need to know about the short
Short swords were already in use at a very early time before the development of wakizashi.
The kodachi meaning small tachi, emerged due to the necessity of the aristocrats to have a self-defense weapon longer than a dagger-length blade. During the Kamakura and Nanbokucho periods, some kodachi had blades measuring about 60 centimeters long. Hence, they were shorter than a tachi, a precursor to the katana. Kodachi was often mounted and worn like a tachi, suspended from the belt with the edge facing down, but their purpose remains unknown.
The so-called sunnobi tanto could also be considered a wakizashi.
Nowadays, the Japanese Firearms and
The sunnobi tanto were oversized daggers, often from the Nanbokucho and Muromachi periods, ranging from 33 to 36 centimeters long. Since Japanese blades today are classified according to blade length, the sunnobi tanto could also be called a wakizashi.
The samurai wore a paired set of swords known as daisho.
The term daisho literally means big and small, a reference to the long
The samurai carried several swords in the battle.
The daisho set of katana and wakizashi seems to be the most popular, but the samurai also utilized a weapon with a shorter blade, known as the tanto (a term loosely translated as dagge).. The famous illustration of Honda Tadakatsu portrays him wearing the short
The samurai initially used the wakizashi for seppuku and later preferred the tanto.
Among the feudal Japanese samurai class, ritual suicide called seppuku was considered honorable and involved stabbing oneself with a short
Miyamoto Musashi was renowned for his ability to wield a wakizashi and a katana at once.
The legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi mastered the two-blade fighting technique and was undefeated in reportedly 60 duels. In Japanese legend, he also became known for defeating his rival Sasaki Kojiro by using a wooden practice
Like the long
The wakizashi was the samurai’s short