What is Uchigatana


Uchigatana is generally referred to as a "Japanese katana", which is the katana the whole world are familiar with. In many movies and TV shows that set in the Edo period, we can see samurais are seen wearing two swords - a long one and a short one - and the longer one is the Uchigatana. This sword is shorter and lighter than the Tachi, Tachi was designed to be used on horseback, and Uchigatana was mainly used in combat on foot. This article introduce some basic knowledge about Uchigatana, the famous Uchigatana in history, hopefully it will help you better customize your own katana.

Characteristics of Uchigatana

"Uchigatana" is a type of sword that became widely popular among samurais from the middle of the Muromachi period. It is characterized by a blade length of 2 shaku (about 60 cm) or more and a slight curve in the body of the sword. When uchigatana is displayed, it is placed with the blade facing upwards, the same direction as when worn at the waist.

When Uchigatana appeared
Until the Nanboku-cho period, battles were mainly fought on horseback, so the Tachi, which was designed to be handled on horseback, was widely used. In the Muromachi period, a smaller type of sword, the Wakizashi, suitable for indoor use, began to be made, and a style of carrying two swords - a long one and a short one - called "Daisho" was born. The Tachi that had been used until then was not abandoned, but was modified by shortening the tang (Nakago,the part that goes into the tsuka) in a process called "Suriage", and was used as Uchigatana. Although the inscription (the maker's name and production date carved into the tang) is lost when a Tachi is suriaged, it is possible to guess the maker and production date from the characteristics of the hamon line and the ground steel.

Uchigatana was most active as a weapon in the Bakumatsu period
Although katanas are often described as the primary weapons in manga and anime, in reality, they were used as auxiliary weapons when the arrows ran out or the spear broke. The Uchigatana was most active on the battlefield in the Bakumatsu period. It was used in situations where you were dealing with a few people rather than a large number of people, like in a battle.

Famous Swordsmiths
"Muramasa" was a swordsmith who worked in Kuwana District, Ise Province (now Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture) from the Muromachi period to the early Edo period. He is famous as the creator of the "Cursed Muramasa" which is said to have brought disaster to the Tokugawa shogunate, but this is a legend created in later times. The Uchigatana made by Muramasa were so suited for battle that they were called "Kokon Muso", and their sharpness was such that any samurai would be tempted to try cutting with them at least once. Although swords that are made with a focus on practicality are generally said to have low artistic value, Muramasa's works have received high praise from sword appraisal experts and critics.

"Nagasone Kotetsu" was a swordsmith who worked in the Edo period and is known by the nickname "Kotetsu". He was originally a samurai armor maker, but after he was over 50, he moved to Edo and turned to swordsmithing, where he became successful. The characteristics of Kotetsu's Uchigatana are their solid cutting ability and robust appearance, which samurais loved. As his fame increased, even swordsmiths who made a living by forging fake Kotetsus appeared, and there are so many forgeries that it is often said "If you see a Kotetsu, assume it's a fake".
"Horikawa Kunihiro" was a swordsmith who worked in the Azuchi-Momoyama period. He is known as the founder of the Horikawa school of swordsmiths. After moving to Horikawa in Kyoto, he started making swords and came to be called Horikawa Kunihiro. The Horikawa school has many masters of carving, and many of their swords are characterized by carvings of Fudo Myo-o images or Sanskrit characters. Among the existing works of Horikawa Kunihiro, 12 swords are designated as important cultural properties, and 7 of them are Uchigatana.

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