Katana Mune Definite guide to understand the back of samurai sword


Katana Mune: The Definite Guide

Katanas are quite fascinating and even more complex. In fact, this complexity is what makes them so unique and interesting. You might have heard about something called the Mune and wondered what it might be. And also, it’s purpose of being on the katana. Well, here I discuss that in great detail. 

What is Mune?

The mune is the back of the katana sword. It refers to the non-sharp region of the blade. You can think of it as the spike on the edge.

Swordsmen can use this part of the katana to strike their opponent without cutting them. At least, this is what movies and TV shows tell us. But it isn’t that practical.

The Purpose Of The Katana Mune

One of the purposes of having the mune seems to be to strike down one's opponent without killing them or severely injuring them. Katanas are single-edged swords. This is one of their defining characteristics. This technique is called Mune-uchi.

Mune-uchi is very popular in movies and dramas. However, there’s little historical evidence that mune-uchi was practiced. Furthermore, samurai never draw their swords unless they intend to fight until the very end.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both single-edged and double-edged swords. A single-edged sword doesn't harm the wielder. Having a mune also helps to make the blade much stronger and sturdier.

Materials Used For The Mune

In ancient Japan katana was made of a specialized Japanese steel called the tamahagane. After the sword is formed, it is tempered with clay. In this case the mune is a bit different. For tempering the mune a thicker layer of clay is applied on to it. 

It makes the mune comparably softer than the edge. Allowing it to handle a lot of stress and force and provide support to the blade. It also provides great impact absorption to aid in blocking.  

There are different types of mune. The mune is divided into two types: flat and roofed. Hira mune is flat and is rare to see nowadays. Iori mune has a rounded, roof-like appearance. These styles of mune are very popular nowadays.

Interesting Mune Facts

Different kinds of mune are popular in other schools and traditions. The Yamato traditional schools also use the Iori mune.

While the Iori mune is more common in Bizen traditions, the shin, or Mitsu mune, is popular in the Soshu and Yamato traditions. 

In the famous manga Rurouni Kenshin, the main character Himura Kenshin is using a reversed blade katana, which means his katana has sharp Mune and dull edge. That katana was meant not to kill. 

In our custom katana section, you can select sharp or unsharp for your katana.

Mune FAQs

  1. Why is the mune tempered with thicker clay?

Ans. The purpose of the mune is to provide impact resistance to the katana. And the harder something is, the more brittle it becomes. Thicker clay layers on the mune makes this portion soft compared to the blade edge which is needed to be hard to retain sharpness. This softness allows it to easily take blows, block attacks and keep the sword in one piece. 

  1. Q. Can the mune of a katana attack the opponent without fatally injuring them?

Ans. In practice, it's difficult and almost impossible to attack an opponent without injuring them. Attacking your opponent without cutting them is called mune-uchi. It’s mostly seen in movies and dramas. But in reality, when samurai used to draw their swords, they intended to kill the opponent.

Wrapping Up

The mune is still a special part of a katana blade, and a lot of skill goes into perfecting it. Although the elaborate movie scenes might not be true, but the level of craftsmanship that goes into creating them is really impressive.

Check out our complete katana parts guide here for more katana components.

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