Katana Parts: A Journey Through the Components of Samurai Sword

As a sword that embodies the samurai's spirit, the katana symbolizes Japanese culture and martial arts history. It first appeared during the feudal era, not just as a weapon but also as a symbol of skill, honor, and discipline. 

Carefully crafted from high-quality steel, the katana's distinctively curved blade is more than just a deadly weapon; it reflects the Japanese warrior class's art and way of life. Its association with historical stories about samurai who followed the Bushido code gives it an air of respect and interest.

This guide aims to explain the katana's parts and give martial arts fans a complete understanding of how they work and what they mean. 

The Blade (Nagasa) — The Heart of Samurai

The Nagasa, or blade, is the katana's most essential and well-known part. It is carefully and precisely made, and the process can take months or even years. In the past, katana blades were made from tamahagane, a steel made from iron sand. This steel is hard and sharp but bendable enough not to break because it has a lot of carbon.


Differential hardening creates the hamon, a wavy line that runs along the edge of the sword's blade. This process makes the blade's edge harder to cut while keeping the spine softer and more flexible so it doesn't break when it hits something.


The end of the blade, “The kissaki,” is the end of the katana and is very important to how well the sword works overall. A well-made kissaki makes cutting and thrusting with accuracy possible, which also shows how skilled and careful the swordsmith is.


The line that separates the sword's blade from the tip, “The Yokote is a thin, straight line that goes from the blade's main body to its tip. People think this transition is beautiful and adds to the general design because it shows how skilled the swordsmith is.

The Hilt (Tsuka) — More than Just a Handle

Each part of a katana's hilt, or "Tsuka," is essential for its function and appearance. In swordplay, the Tsuka, which usually lasts as long as two hands, makes it easier to hold and aim the sword. 


Wrapping the "Tsuka-ito," a string of silk or cotton, around it makes it easy to hold on to. Under this wrap is "Samegawa," which means "ray skin." This skin is known for being rough, which keeps the Tsuka-ito in place.


The "Menuki," which are decorative features that often show nature or historical scenes, are an essential part of the hilt's design. The warriors put these comfortably in their palms, making it easier to hold on to things and preventing fatigue during extended use. Some samurai also use the Menuki to show their own personal tastes or views.

Funchi and Kashira

The Fuchi and kashira, or pommel and collar, are metal fittings located at the bottom and top of the Tsuka, respectively. They provide the blade a decorative touch while guarding the ends of the handle from wear and harm.


The "Mekugi," a bamboo peg that goes through the handle and the blade's tip, holds the whole thing together. This small but essential part is necessary for the sword's structure and keeps the blade firmly attached to the hilt. Design-wise, the Mekugi lets you take the sword apart for cleaning and upkeep, a valuable aspect of katana care.

The Guard (Tsuba) — Symphony of Defense and Aesthetics

The guard, or Tsuba, is a metal disc that sits between the blade and the handle. It keeps the user's hand from touching the blade's sharp tip. Tsuba comes in many styles, sizes, and materials, but iron, copper, and brass are the most popular. 

They might have intricate carvings, openwork patterns, or valuable metals like gold and silver set into them. The Tsuba's style and level of detail can show how old the sword is, where it came from, or the owner's personal tastes.

Guard's role 

The Tsuba is there for practical and beautiful reasons. It covers the hand of the person who is using the sword during battle and makes it more stable and balanced. Many Tsuba also have elaborate designs and artwork that show off the taste and social status of the person who owns the sword.

Symbolism in Tsuba art  

The images in Tsuba art are often symbolic, like scenery, animals, mythical beings, or scenes from Japanese history and folklore. These designs aren't just pretty decorations; they also tell stories and show what people believed then.

The Scabbard (Saya) — Sword Protector

As the name suggests, the scabbard, or Saya, protects the katana blade. To be traditional, Saya are carved from thin woods like Honoki and are made to fit the blade exactly. Lacquering the outside often adds extra security and makes it look better.


In Japanese, the sheath (also called the saya) of a sword has a small knob on it called the kurikata or kurigata. Traditionally made from the same material as the sheath, which is often buffalo horn, the kurikata holds the sageo. This cord connects the sword to the person carrying it, to their belt.

The sageo's knob: The kurikata is a small knob on the saya that the sageo, a line that holds the saya to the user's belt, threads through.

Koiguchi and Kojri

This is the mouth and end cap. The koiguchi is the saya's mouth, where the blade goes in, and the kojiri is the end cap that protects it. Adding metal fittings is a meaningful way to keep both parts from breaking.

Accessories and Ornaments

The world of katanas pays close attention to every detail, down to the tiniest parts like the "Fuchi" and "Kashira." The Fuchi is a metal band that goes around the bottom of the hilt, and the Kashira is the cap or pommel that goes on top. These parts are not just there to look nice; they strengthen the Tsuka and stabilize the handle. 

In particular, the Fuchi helps hold the Tsuka-ito (handle wrap) in place so it doesn't come apart. Both fittings usually have complicated patterns that match the sword's general look. The patterns can be simple and elegant or very detailed and match the theme of the Menuki and Tsuba.

There is no difference between the "Habaki" and the "Seppa." What is the Habaki? It's a metal band that goes around the base of the blade, just above the Tsuba. Its main job is to keep the blade in place in the Saya, which stops it from moving and ensures a smooth draw. 

The Seppa are washers on either side of the Tsuba that keep the blade in place and ensure it fits snugly in the hilt. Even though they are small, these parts are essential to the katana's general function and integrity.

These katana decorations and ornaments, from the Fuchi and Kashira to the Habaki and Seppa, show how carefully the katana is made. They show how art and function can work together, which helps explain why the katana is both a sword and a symbol of Japanese culture.

The Bottom Line

To summarize, katana parts make this samurai more than just a weapon. It's a work of art that shows how skilled and dedicated the swordsmiths who make them are, as well as Japan's past and culture. 

By learning about the different parts of a katana and the skill that went into making it, we can enjoy these beautiful and valuable works of art even more. If you like Japanese swords, whether you are a martial artist or just someone who likes them, exploring the world of katana parts will be fun and exciting.