Katana Nakago The tang of the sword hides more secrets than you thought


Everything You Need To Know About Nakago

Nakago is a small section of the Katana sword. But despite how minor this part may seem, it is an essential component of the weapon.  This guide will discuss everything you need to know about Nakago. So, stick around till the end!

What Is Nakago?

The Nakago, or Tang, is the Katana blade's extension into its handle. To put it another way, it's the portion of the sword tang that extends from the handle's base.

The Japanese sword's Tang, or the portion of the blade that extends into the grip, is what the Nakago appears to be at first glance. However, it goes much further than it seems. Its excellence may either save or destroy a sword.

Most inexpensive ornamental stainless-steel katanas lack a complete tang. Instead, they feature a spot-welded rat tail Nakago, which barely links the handle and blade components together.

So, the rat tail tangs' fragility on decorative Katanas is a common issue with this part. Furthermore, a poorly designed Nakago is among the most frequent problems with a Japanese sword's Tang.

All romanceofmen katana are full tang and battle ready. No such thing as rat tail tang here. In our custom katana section you can see our full blade photos showing the tang as well. 

What's The Purpose Of Nakago?

The primary purpose of Nakago is to link the blade to the hilt. Moreover, it is the Katana's section where the makers engrave their mei (maker’s sign), aside from attaching the handle to the sword.

There's a line between the ridge area and the blade's edge. The region tucked up within the sheath between the border, and the blade's bottom is Nakago (Tang). It can reveal a swordsmith's talent just by looking at it.

Well, not all practical entry-level Katana have a mei sign or genuinely need one. However, it is very significant in antiques. So, one must leave it in its original state and never clean or polish it.

 What Are The Typical Styles Of Nakago?

Ubu Nakago, Kiji Momo, Shiribari Gata, etc. are a few of the most typical forms of Nakago. Besides, Funa Gata and Gohei Gata are also pretty common styles.

The Nakago's shape and filing technique vary based on the sword's age and swordsmanship school. It makes it just as crucial to the identification procedure as the blade. So, let's discuss some of the most typical styles of Nakago:

  • Futsu Gata or Ubu Nakago Style: The most popular version of Nakago, seen in both modern and traditional Katanas, is the Futsu gata. 
    • Shiribari Gata: One can distinguish this Nakago shape by its bottom section, which appears flattened. You may frequently observe this form in swords from the 1800s and earlier.
    • Kiji Momo Gata: The term "Kiji Momo'' means pheasant thigh. Long Katana from the Kamakura and Heian eras frequently display this style of Nakago.

    History Of Nakago

    Historically, the Nakago has bared the name of the craftsmen. But it’s not limited to that. You can find information about the location of where the sword was made, the date of its construction and most interestingly, how many people you can actually slice through with it. 

    Katanas go through something called the tameshigiri test. In this test, newly crafted swords are used to cut through a wide variety of materials such as bamboo, rice straw or rush mats to evaluate their strength and sharpness. Back in the Edo period, sometimes cadavers or even live convicted criminals would be used for more accurate testing. 

    On some Nakago you can find detailed information regarding what type of test subject was used, on which part of the body was the test done and the types of cuts made. While it's not in practice today, some antique katanas still bear this grim aspect of katana history.  


    Poor finishing of the Tang may put undue strain on the remainder of the Katana blade or even send shockwaves right through the Nakago itself. So, it is best to buy from reputable shops and check all the sword sections properly. Thanks for reading through, for more katana parts check out our katana anatomy blog here.

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