Part I - Sword Blades

The graphics used on this page are adapted from ToShow 6,
a Japanese sword database program written by Peter McCollum,
and are used with his permission.


There are a variety of shapes of Japanese sword blades, kissaki (points) and blade backs (mune). Some of the most common of shown below.

shape mune kissaki


The boshi is the tempered part of the sword point (kissaki).
Some of the more common styles of boshi are:

komaru omaru midarekomi
hakikake yakizume jizo


The hada is the visible design of the grain of the sword steel. It is a result of the way the sword was folded during forging. Hada can be difficult for the beginner to interpret and it is easily obscured by a poorly polished blade or one which is stained or rusted.

itame masame mokume
ayasuji muji


The hamon is the design of the tempered edge of the sword blade. It is a result of the differential cooling of the blade (quenching and tempering) after it is forged. There are numerous styles of hamon and quite commonly mixed styles such as choji-midare or midare-togari. Some of the major forms are shown below.

suguha gunome notare
choji sanbonsugi hitatsuri
toran togari sudare
kikusui hako midare
yahazu mimigata


"Hataraki" or "activities" or "workings" in the hamon are various types of lines, streaks, dots and patches which result from the interaction of the steel during the quenching process. "Ashi" means "legs" which are streaks of nioi extending toward the ha (edge); "ko-nie" are small dots of nie above the hamon; "ji-nie" are patches of nie in the ji; "sunagashi", "kinsuji" and "inazuma" are streaks within and above the hamon; "uchinoke" are cresent shaped areas. "Chikei" are running dark lines in the ji. A proper polish is required for the activities in the hamon to be well visualized. An active hamon is normally the mark of a better quality blade. Activities are not usually seen in bar stock, oil quenched WW II era gunto blades.


ashi   jinie   sunagashi  

inazuma   chikei

Photos courtesy of Ron Polansky

Continue to
Japanese Sword Terminology
Part II - Sword Tangs

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