The cookie settings on this website are adjusted to allow all cookies so that you have the very best experience. If you continue without changing your cookie settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on our website. However, if you would like to, you can change your settings at any time using the Change cookie settings link in the Special menu. 

YariNoHanzo Katana and Iaito

YariNoHanzo swords manufacture
Processes behind the handmade production of swords

Each blade is produced individually by hammering from a metal block composed of one or more types of steel. The block is shaped by hot hammering to shape the blade which will subsequently be polished until the final product is obtained.
Our brand, in order to be as faithful as possible to Japanese swords, mainly uses hard and extra-hard non-stainless steels with different carbon contents based on the needs, the sword model, the price range of the product and / or specific wishes of the customer.
The only stainless steel that YariNoHanzo uses is called "T10" or "Tool steel". Due to its mechanical properties, it is to make blades that are extremely resistant to the shear stresses produced during the practice of battōdō.
Each block of steel is processed according to its chemical-physical peculiarities in order to prevent these from being lost during forging. During processing, no material must be lost and the carbon percentage must remain above the thresholds we set for our blades in order to guarantee our customers the size, weight and hardness of the blade.
The proportions and the geometries of the blade (kissaki, shinogi, sori and mune) are obtained during the forging phase, again by hitting. Since each blade is produced individually even between swords of the same model there are minimal differences in size, weight and shape.

1045 HCS
1045 HCS steel is an alloy, like all steels, of iron and carbon. In this case the percentage of carbon is 0.45%, placing it in the category of semi-hard steels (with a percentage of carbon between 0.4% and 0.59%). It is used for swords designed for novices in the practice of martial arts and for those looking for a decorative sword with no purpose of use.

1060 HCS
1060 HCS steel contains a percentage of carbon of 0.6%, therefore it is part of the category of hard steels (with a percentage of carbon between 0.6% and 0.69%). It is used by our brand for intermediate level swords mainly intended for the practice of martial arts, in particular tameshigiri and battōdō. The higher hardness compared to 1045 HCS steel allows the cutting edge to be more durable and to continue cutting for a long time.

1095 HCS
1095 HCS steel is used by YariNoHanzo for higher category swords. Given the hardness, it is particularly performing for cutting practice and the polishing finish makes it of even higher quality. This steel has a carbon percentage of 0.95% and therefore falls into the category of extra-hard steels. For these reasons it is dedicated to the most valuable swords in our catalogue in order to provide a very high quality product both in terms of performance and aesthetic value.

Our brand produces some models with Damascus steel to obtain some activities similar to those that the hada has on a nihontō. To obtain the blade, we start with a metal stick containing a small percentage of soft iron and 1060 HCS steel. After forging and polishing, the blade is immersed in acid which, reacting with the soft iron, darkens it, producing the “patterns” on the blade. The percentage of iron is so minimal that in a first approximation the hardness of the blade is equal to those in 1060 HCS steel only.

"T10" or "tool steel" is an alloy not only containing carbon but also other elements that increase its physical characteristics, giving it high hardness, resistance to abrasion and deformation, and the ability to maintain a cutting edge even at high temperatures. These peculiarities make it a natural choice for swords designed exclusively for cutting, even hard targets such as bamboo. YariNoHanzo has recently implemented it to meet the most demanding practitioners who are dedicated exclusively to the practice of tameshigiri.

Tamahagane 玉鋼
Tamahagane steel is traditionally used in Japan for the production of nihontō. The physical characteristics of resistance to mechanical stress have made it the main choice for the production of blades for over a thousand years in Japan. YariNoHanzo offers it for particularly demanding customers who want to have a copy as faithful as possible to a Japanese sword. The tamahagane is characterized by a remarkable hardness, mainly due to the high carbon content (between 1 and 1.5%) and the absence of impurities and inclusions, such as phosphorus and sulphur. It is extracted from a ferrous sand which is placed in a furnace where, once melted, it settles on the bottom of the furnace. The steel solidifies by separating from the sand and is collected once it has cooled. At this point in the process it has a spongy and uneven appearance. The various inclusions and different carbon contents (in blue, brown and dark red) can be distinguished. The blue areas are those with a very high amount of carbon and together with the light spongy body is used to make the hardest parts of the sword (depending on the kitae chosen by the blacksmith or the customer). The red and brown areas on the other hand, containing inclusions and impurities, are discarded for the production of swords since they would compromise the strength and characteristic resistance of the sword, creating areas prone to breaking.


Kitae 鍛

The kitae identifies the forging method by which a blade is created. Over the centuries, in Japan, many different kitae were created from the need to obtain very resistant blades despite the extreme hardness of the steel. YariNoHanzo produces blades with various of these traditional methods, listed below, for the effectiveness provided to the sword by the structure and because each blade is a reproduction as faithful as possible to a Japanese sword.
For the more complex forging methods to be used, it takes a lot of experience from the craftsman: a single air bubble trapped inside the various layers and steel blocks would completely compromise the blade at the time of hardening, creating cracks or openings on the blade. Furthermore, the complexity of some kitae prevents production by machinery: too many aspects are unpredictable and only an expert craftsman can manage them according to his experience acquired through trial and error.
Listed below are the kitae our brand supplies. They are in order of increasing complexity and for clarity each is accompanied by an image that represents the section of the blade that clearly shows the internal structure. The types of steel used are differentiated by colour:
Grey - soft steel
Light blue - steel of medium hardness
Blue - very hard steel
The only exception concerns the YariNoHanzo swords produced in maru kitae since the steel used depends on the model and price range, so the blue colour is not representative of the hardness of the steel but only of its homogeneity.
The only blades that do not have a processing according to the methods listed below, are those in Damascus since the preparation of the steel stick follows a procedure similar to the maru kitae with the addition, before beating and bending the steel, of small quantities of iron, the section therefore would not be indicative of the final result since it is appreciable only longitudinally.


The kitae maru is the simplest to make as only one type of steel is used to create the blade. It was used in Japan for swords for officers during both Sengoku Jidai and WWII. In the YariNoHanzo catalogue most models are in maru kitae, while the exceptions are described in the model specific kitae.

Kōbuse 甲伏せ
The kōbuse method is the most widespread in the history of the Japanese sword. Despite its simplicity, it guarantees the sword resistance to blows without affecting its effectiveness in carrying them. To produce a kōbuse blade, a hard steel stick (in blue) is folded so to house a softer steel stick (in grey) inside. It should be noted that it is the softer steel that forms the mune. We currently offer one kōbuse sword: Oni Katana YNH231.

Makuri 捲
The makuri kitae is very similar to the kobuse: two types of steel are coupled to obtain a hard shell (in blue) and a soft core (in grey). Unlike the kōbuse, the mune is created with the hardest steel.

Honsanmai 本三枚
The honsanmai is the simplest kitae comprising three types of steel. What will become the cutting edge of the blade is the hardest steel available to the craftsman (in blue). The plates of the sword are made of a softer steel (in blue) to increase the absorption of the blows, while the mune and the central part of the blade (in grey) - which must support every blow received and inflicted - are made of a very soft steel to ensure that shocks and vibrations will dissipate without causing damage to the crystal structure of the steel. We currently have a honsanmai sword among our products: Fuji Katana YNH235.

Shihozume 四方詰
Kitae shihozume (or shihotsume), like honsanmai, uses three types of steel with different carbon contents (therefore hardness). A soft steel core (in grey) is protected on three sides that form mune and shinogi-ji by a slightly harder steel (in blue), while the cutting edge has an even higher percentage of carbon because it is harder and to facilitate cutting (in blue).

Gōmai 高邁
The gōmai kitae is a complex variant of the kobuse kitae. It involves the insertion of a hard steel stick (like the one that forms the cutting edge of the blade) inside the central soft steel core (in grey). This allows the blows received on the back to discharge the energy absorbed by the sword along the entire length of the blade.

Orikaeshi sanmai 折返し三枚  
“Oru” in Japanese means "to fold" and kaeru "to go back", so “orikaeshi” literally means "to fold back". The soft steel (in grey) that will form the core of the sword is folded on itself and harder steels are added around it (in light blue and blue).

Sōshu 相州
With the sōshu method - one of the most complex ever developed - the mild steel core of the sword (in grey) is protected on the side first by two relatively harder steel plates (in blue), which act as shock absorbers. On the outside, it is protected laterally, on the mune and on the cutting edge by very hard steel (in blue). We currently have a sōshu sword among our products: Kamei Katana YNH232.

All the kitae described above are available for customers who want a custom sword, the tsuka of which is completely handmade in Europe, while the blade is manufactured at the forge in China. At the express request of the customer we are able to supply each catalogue sword with blades forged with the methods described above.


Temper process & hamon 刃文
YariNoHanzo supplies hardened and non-hardened blades. The hardening process is always carried out in the traditional Japanese way, using the materials and methodologies actually used for the nihontō. For the non-hardened blades, to get them as faithful as possible to Japanese swords, the hamon is made by a specialised craftsman.
Traditionally, the hamon is created by a differential hardening process, i.e. two parts of the blade simultaneously undergo very rapid cooling with different cooling times. This very sophisticated procedure, which takes the name of yakiire, requires that part of the blade is covered by a mixture of clay, coal and water and a part instead (the area that will be the cutting edge) remains uncovered. Once the mixture is dry, the blade is heated and then dipped in water to temper it. The clay "shell" reduces, even if by very few fractions of a second, the dispersion of heat from the covered part, thus leaving the steel softer, not allowing the formation of a hard crystalline structure. The uncovered part, on the other hand, cools immediately, forming macro-crystals that make the steel extremely hard.
Yarinohanzo regularly produces mechanically and chemically produced hamon, as well as hamon in which the blade is hardened and therefore produced with a differentiated temper.

The brushed hamon involves masking the blade and passing it under a wire brush. This produces a slight uniform abrasion over the entire uncovered area that creates the hamon pattern, in this case in the notare style. This type of hamon is used on YariNoHanzo swords of some categories, especially on dull versions. This allows to maintain a low cost and still make the sword a replica as faithful as possible.

Acid etched
YariNoHanzo produces a second type of hamon, obtained by acid etching. The production method is very similar to that of brushing. A mask is applied by the craftsman and an acid is passed on the uncovered part, changing the colour without compromising the structure. This type of processing allows for more aesthetic hamon than those produced by brushing and also allows for more complex patterns.

Real suguha 直刃
This type of hamon is the simplest to produce with the traditional method with clay and historically it is the oldest. The craftsman must not let a strip of uniform width of metal uncovered on the edge of the blade before heating and tempering it. It is essential that on both sides the area left uncovered by the clay is the same, otherwise during the hardening process the blade will undergo a longitudinally torsional deformation and will therefore be unusable.

Real notare midare湾れ乱れ
Our brand produces swords with a midare-style royal hamon, which has a homogeneous undulation between valleys and peaks along the entire length of the blade. Very common throughout the history of the Japanese sword, it is more complex to produce than the hamon suguha. The craftsman must in fact mask the area that needs to remain uncovered by hand with clay to maintain a design that is homogeneous and similar on both sides of the blade.

Reale Gunome Midare互の目乱れ
YariNoHanzo uses this type of hamon for most of the Superior series swords and it is the one most commonly chosen by customers who decide to entrust us with the order for a custom sword. The midare gunome is characterized by a very complex activity even with respect to the hamon notare midare: it consists of a series of semicircles of more or less regular size according to the aesthetic taste of the craftsman who applies the clay on the blade. Due to its complexity it requires a lot of attention to avoid that despite the variations, it still maintains in aesthetic and functional balance. In fact, large differences or disproportions would make the cutting edge more fragile instead of strengthening it as they would create internal tensions between the macro crystals.

Tempering process or yakiire 焼入れ
The yakiire process requires profound preparation and experience to be followed correctly, in fact not only does the formation of an exceptional cutting edge depend on this, but also determines the curvature of the blade.
The blade, by dispersing the heat in a different way on the edge and on the back, in fact undergoes a non-homogeneous contraction due to the different linear expansion and contraction constants. The part that cools down first, that of the edge, undergoes an extremely accentuated curvature in the first moments of immersion in water and then stabilises immediately. The back part instead begins to curve about halfway through the hardening process and continues to contract until the end of the hardening process. In the attached image you can see the behaviour of the blade during the yakiire process. As already specified, only skilled craftsmen can manage such a complex process that determines the shape and curvature of each hardened sword.


YariNoHanzo uses different levels of polishing depending on the line to which the sword belongs. In general, the level of polishing rises as the value of the sword and the quality of the steel rise.
Below is a brief description of the level of polishing for each line of our brand: "low", "medium" and "high".
It is important that these three levels are well defined according to parameters that can be identified with the naked eye. Furthermore, the terms "low", "medium" and "high" are used only to identify the type of polishing and not the quality of the process performed by the craftsmen.
Each blade is individually hand polished. This is because each blade with edge must actually cut what is declared to the customers and because the blade has no defects and / or burrs due to the hammering process during processing. This can only be achieved if each blade is polished and checked by craftsmen.
It is also important to specify that for the production of iaitō a lot of care is taken in the removal of the cutting edge so that there is a guarantee that no part of the blade cuts and that the blunt surface of the edge is homogeneous and without metal chips.

“Low” polishing
This type of polishing is carried out with sandpaper with grain up to FEPA P500. This type of polishing is intended for models of the Basic and Practical lines. The final finish is matte and homogeneous. It is important to note that the hardened swords of the Practical line have a more polished finish as the harder steel performs better when polished. In the image you can see the difference between the "low" level of polishing on the non-hardened blade (top) and on the hardened blade (bottom). It should be noted that the steel used is the same.

“Medium” polishing
The Damascus, Performance, Special and Tantō lines of the YariNoHanzo brand undergo this type of polishing. The craftsman uses sandpaper up to FEPA P800 which makes polishing less opaque than the "low" one, making the swords much more realistic and better finished. As already mentioned, the hardened blades of the categories with "medium" polishing level have a better performance than the non-hardened ones.

“High” polishing
The blades of the Superior and Shōgun Elite lines of our brand, being the best in our catalogue, are stone-polished. The grain of the stones used reaches up to FEPA P1200, guaranteeing the blades a scratch-free finish that leaves the hamon and any activities on the blade due to the kitae clearly visible. Only the most expert craftsmen work on this type of blades since the use of stones is very complex and a single mistake would compromise a blade in an irreparable way


The set of supplies for the Japanese sword is called kodōgu: tsuba, fuchi, kashira and menuki.
YariNoHanzo invests time and money so that the kodōgu of her models are faithful representations of existing and documented sets present in museums and private collections. With the exception of the kodōgu of the Basic line, each set of the remaining lines of swords was created on our design, starting from existing historical models.
This allows us, together with all the other production characteristics, to be able to offer swords as similar as possible to nihontō, giving even more authenticity to models that pay homage to the Japanese sword for traditional methods of forging and polishing.
In addition, each decoration in gold and / or silver is handmade with special colours are left to dry then baked at high temperatures to prevent them from fading.
The production methods are described in detail in the respective categories.

The tsuba is the sword guard. The original intention of the tsuba was to protect the hands from the blade of the enemy and at the same time to prevent the hands from slipping forward onto the own blade, especially when performing thrust actions. During the history of the japanese sword many designs were created for practical and aesthethic reasons.
Our brand produces many of the famous design, from the simplest one to those very intricate with different methodologies depending primarily by the line the sword belongs to.
The Basic and Practical Lines mainly use laser cutted tsuba while the other lines use the lost wax method to achieve a high level of detail.
Below are described the two methods with an example for each from our tsuba catalogue.

The laser method is quite simple but requires a craftsman who knows how to use a laser cutter. A metal plate is cut with a laser cutter, then the piece obtained is carefully cleaned from splinters with very fine sandpaer then is burnished black to fit the requirements for our koshirae. Due to the simplicity of this method, very simple tsuba can be produced in this way because no reliefs can be implemented but only grooves and openings.

The casting method is quite complex and requires many steps to obtain a single piece. First a model of the piece is handmade in wax or similar materials. Then a heat resistant mould is made around the wax prototype and liquid metal is poured in the mold. The wax melts leaving space to the metal that will form an exact copy of the prototype. Every mold has a very long lifespan, about 65,000 cycles. When the details start to be less defined, a new mould is created following the process described above. The craftsmen need to be very skilled to produce firstly the wax prototype and then to cast the liquid metal in order that no bubble remains in the mold.

Fuchigashira 縁頭
Fuchigashira (or fuchi and kashira) is the set of the hilt metal collar and bottom cap. The fuchi serves as secure to the two halves of the tsuka. The kashira has the same function on the other end of the hilt, providing protection to the butt end and also serves as support to tie the ito of the tsukamaki firmly.
As with the tsuba, many designs have been developed in Japan over the centuries for different purposes, fashions and traditions.

Every single set of fuchigashira is produced with the casting method described for the tsuba, from the simplest to the more complex ones. The level of detail is very high and the designs are copied from existing sets displayed in museums and collections.

Menuki 目貫
The menuki are small ornaments on the hilt of a sword, under the tsukamaki. The positioning of these ornaments follows very strict rules. Like the fuchigashira, menuki are produced by cast and the color decorations are applied by brush.
In ancient times menuki had a charm function or they were simply made in accordance with the theme of fuchi, kashira and tsuba. Designs vary from family crests, Buddhist themes and even vegetables.
YariNoHanzo produces many menuki, the most representative ones among the many variations the Japanese craftsmen of the past have created. Below two different sets of menuki are depicted. One very simple represents the crest of the clan Mimura while the other, the dragon enveloping a sword, is a representation of Fudoo-Myoo fighting the dragon king Kurikara.

Tsuka 柄
The tsuka is the hilt of the sword. Traditionally is made in wood, covered in ray leather and then wrapped, according to certain methods, with a cotton or silk braid or leather.
YariNoHanzo uses only genuine methods of production, following the Japanese tradition. Every tsuka of every sword is created by hand in order to fit the dimension of the fuchi and kashira and the nakago, then it is carefully secured with two bamboo pins, the mekugi, to the tang.
Only at this moment, when everything is checked and ready, the wrapping is made by skilful artisans. The tsukamaki is a very important aspect of the sword. It has to be tight and not loose,  otherwise, during the practice, the braid will move, reducing the grip and the comfort of the practitioner.
As for every other aspect of the sword creation, our brand provides different levels depending on the Line of the sword. The difference is  due to the presence or absence of the hishigami.

  • Basic, Practical and Damascus: no hishigami.
  • Performance, Special and Superior: with hishigami.
  • Tsuka made in Europe by our artisan: always with hishigami.

Hishigami are triangular pieces of folded paper put under the tsukamaki to ensure a tighter wrap.
For the wrapping we offer on our catalog models cotton and silk made in China and leather made in Italy. For the custom tsuka produced in Europe, cotton and silk made in Japan are also available. These braids are much more expensive and are of the highest quality, so that the customer has a replica that is as close as possible to a nihontō.
Below every aspect of the tsuka is discussed in order to provide a wide view of the craftsmanship behind the handles of our swords.

Tsukashitagi 柄下着
Tsukashitagi literally means “tsuka undergarment” and refers to the shape of the wooden handle, before leather and wrapping are applied to it. During the history of the Japanese sword many different tsukashitagi were created, as for the rest of the aspects of the katana. The reasons are mainly three:

  • Personal needs or requests of the customer.
  • Fashion of the period when the tsuka was made.
  • Particular requests of a martial art school or style.

Our artisans produce tsukashitagi in four very commonly found shapes. For custom swords one of these is available only after agreement of the customer with our Europe based artisan.
The process of creation, despite the different shape, is always the same. From two solid wooden slats are carved, by hand, the two halves of the handle. This process is quite long because the tsuka must tightly fit the nakago; however, if it is too tight, the wood may split. Considering that every nakago is different because every sword is handmade individually, this process requires continuous checks by the craftsman.
When the two halves can accommodate the tang, they are glued together and the artisan gives the handle its final shape with planes, chisels and files. The craftsman also creates the housing for the fuchi and for the kashira and for the ray leather.


This shape is the most common tsukashitagi found on nihontō koshirae. The side of the handle towards the cutting edge of the sword is straight while the other side, towards the mune, is concave.

Rikkō 陸閘
The tsukashitagi Rikkō presents a double concave curvature on its body. Both curves are even and create the shape of an hourglass. It is very elegant and gives the handle a very slender aspect.

Imogata 芋形
Imogata literally means “tuber shape” and it refers to the shape of the daikon, a very common tuber in Japan and Easter Asia. The two sides taper gradually from the fuchi to the kashira. It is more common on tantō but it can be seen on katana too.

Morozori 諸反り
Morozori tsukashitagi, as the name says, have a double curvature: one convex, on the cutting edge side of the blade, and one concave, on the back side of the sword. It is more common for very ancient sword mountings and tantō.


Ito 糸
Ito means “yarn” or “thread” and is what is applied on the tsuka for increasing the grip of the hilt in the hands.
Traditionally the ito is made in cotton and silk but there are also variants in leather (tsukagawa). Our brand uses cotton and silk made in China for the catalogue katana. We also use genuine leather made in Italy for some models (see Shinden Fudō Ryu Katana and Saitō Katana).
For custom made swords we also offer cotton and silk made in Japan, specifically produced for the tsuka.
We provide materials as close as possible to real nihontō in order to obtain great replicas.
Below we show the various types of materials used by our artisans.


The cotton made in China provides a cheap yet funcional option for making the tsukamaki, as it keeps the foldings well and it has a nice matt finish and comfortable sensation on the hand of the practitioner.
Japanese cotton permits to have very tight folds and tsukamaki due to the very low elasticity. It creates long lasting tsuka with a very crisp look. It is only used by our Europe based artisan for custom swords due to the relatively high price.

Chinese silk is far better than Chinese cotton because it is thinner, so very defined folds can be made with it. It is very elastic so only few artisans make tsukamaki with this type because it has to be stretched a lot in order to obtain a tight wrapping, but the result is far more realistic and resistant than the tsukamaki made in Chinese cotton. It has a shiny finish particularly refined and suitable for the most expensive swords in our catalog.
Japanese silk, as Japanese cotton, is used only for custom swords and the tsukamaki is done in Europe. It has a very elegant and tasteful look, a glossy finish and provides the maximum comfort for the practitioner due to its softness, while allowing for very resistant and long-lasting wrapping.

Black and brown leather is used in the creation of custom swords and for some models in our catalogue. It is by far the more resistant material traditionally used in Japan to make tsukamaki. YariNoHanzo uses only genuine leather made in Italy,: this way we can guarantee the quality of the final product to the customer. It is the hardest material to work with along with the japanese silk and only the most skillful artisans prepare hilt with leather wrapping.

N.B. It is important to note that our company provides many colours for cotton and silk, both Chinese and Japanese.

Tsukamaki 柄巻き
The tsukamaki is the type of wrapping of the tsukaito around the tsuka. More than 25 methods and types were developed during the Sengoku Jidai and afterwards. YariNoHanzo provides up to seven traditional methods of wrapping, all historically accurate. Many years of experience are required for an artisan to know how to produce all the tsukamaki types we offer.
Only craftsmen can make tsukamaki, creating the intricate and elaborate shapes with the ito, and more important, following the strict rules that have been developed during the centuries for practical and aesthetic reasons.
Every tsukamaki our company can provide is described below and a picture is attached as a quick reference.

Hineri maki 捻り巻き
Hineri maki is by far the most common and known method of wrapping the hilt of a katana. “Hineri'' means “twist” and, as the name suggests, the ito must be twisted in order to obtain rhombuses on the tsuka. This is the most common type of tsukamaki made on YariNoHanzo catalogue swords and every artisan that makes tsuka for our company knows how to make it.

Hira maki平巻き
Despite its simple look, hira maki is almost as complex as the hineri maki. Historically it is more ancient than the hineri maki and it provides less grip while using the sword, which is  why it is relatively less used and demanded.

Katate maki片手巻き
“Katate maki” means "one handed wrap" or "wrap for use with one hand". It is more complex than hineri maki and it requires a lot of experience to obtain the same number of rhombuses under the fuchi and above the kashira while respecting the final position of the ending knot.

Ōkatate maki大片手巻き
Ōkatate maki is by far the simplest method of wrapping the handle of a katana. Except for minimal aspects to keep in mind to obtain the ending knot on the right side of the tsuka, its preparation is very simple and it is the first to be taught to the artisans who prepare our tsuka.

Akechi katate maki明智片手巻き
Akechi was a samurai of the Sengoku Jidai, famous for betraying Oda Nobunaga. This style of wrapping takes its name from him due to the fact his trusted sword had a maki made with this very particular and elegant method.  The preparation of the tsuka for this maki is very important and only few skilled artisans are allowed and are able to do it.

Shōnaizuka maki庄内柄巻き
This kind of wrapping is found mainly en suite with fittings made by Shōnai artists (artists from the fief of Shōnai in Dewa province). It is very complex and requires the craftman to  use both katate maki and hineri maki together.  

Kyūgawa maki牛皮巻き
Kyūgawa (or gyūgawa) maki was made primarily in cow’s hide, that is the reason for its name: wrap in cow’s hide. It is very peculiar for the absence of metal menuki. In their place three stripes of leather (or ito) are alternated in and out a katate maki pattern wrap.  The work behind a tsukamaki like this is measured in days and only few artisans can produce such a masterpiece.


Saya 鞘
The saya is the scabbard of the sword and is made to fit the shape of the blade perfectly. Our company uses wooden saya lacquered in various colours to offer a vast selection amongst the many kinds produced in Japan.
Moreover, our skilled artisans produce saya with very unique decoration, traditionally made, that increases the value of the piece aesthetically and makes the koshirae more authentic, resembling old koshirae visible in museums and private collections.
Below are a few examples of pieces our craftsmen can produce.
It is important to underline that every saya shown is made by hand and it is not machined with other tools than planes, files and sandpaper.


Battōdō抜刀道: lit. “the path of drawing the sword”, refers to the martial art of cutting straw mats.
Bōhi棒樋: a long, straight, wide groove which takes most of the shinogi-ji.
Fuchi縁: hilt collar that holds together the two halves of the tsuka.
Ha刃: cutting edge of a sword.
Habaki 鎺: wedge shaped metal collar used to keep the sword from falling from the scabbard and to support the fittings below.
Hada肌: grain in steel or visible pattern of the forging structure.
Ha-machi刃区: see “machi”.
Hamon刃文: lit. “cutting edge pattern”, the shape created by the differentiated temper process.
Hishigami菱紙: triangular pieces of folded paper put under the tsukamaki to ensure a tighter wrap.
Iaitō居合刀: sword for iaidō practice, unsharpened.
Ito糸: see tsukaito.
Kashira頭: cap on the end of the tsuka.
Katana刀: generic term for a blade measuring over 2 shaku.
Kissaki切先: the fan shaped area at the tip of the blade.
Kitae鍛え: generic term for forging.
Koshirae拵え: the “outfit” of the sword.
Machi区: notches at the base of a blade which stop the habaki. The one on the cutting edge side is called ha-machi, and the one ot the back mune-machi.
Mekugi目釘: bamboo peg for securing the hilt to the tang.
Mekugi-ana目釘穴: hole in the tang (and hilt) for the mekugi peg.
Menuki目貫: small ornaments on the hilt of a sword.
Mune棟: the back of the blade.
Mune-machi棟区: see “machi”.
Nagasa長さ: length of a blade measured via a straight line from the tip to the mune-machi.
Nakago中心: tang of a sword.
Nihontō日本刀: term to refer to all made in Japan edged weapons.
Samegawa鮫皮: leather of certain kinds of ray, applied on the hilt to provide grip.
Saya鞘: scabbard.
Seppa切羽: washers used in front and behind the tsuba to tighten the fittings.
Shaku尺: measurement of length: 30,3cm or 11,93”.
Shinogi鎬: ridge on each side of a blade that extends from the kissaki into the nakago.
Shinogi-ji鎬地: surface between the shinogi and the mune.
Sori反り: curvature of a blade.
Tameshigiri試し切り: lit. “test cutting”, see battōdō.
Tsuba鍔: sword guard.
Tsuka柄: handle of the sword.
Tsukaito 柄糸: braid for wrapping the hilt.
Tsukamaki柄巻き: hilt wrapping.
Yakiire 焼入れ: quenching process of a sword blade.