The Ninja sword is a tool unlike other types of blades. It has been and continues to be both a work of art, as well as the Ninja warriors’ formidable weapon against their enemies.
Though the era of the Ninja has gone and past, they, along with their creed, way of life, and weaponry are still hailed and revered to this day.
For a passionate collector-enthusiast when it comes to Ninja swords, here are facts about the history of the Ninja and their swords, and how they attained the level of godlike greatness that emanates even at present.
Along with this, a buying guide for you to find out how to spot genuine swords from ones that aren’t.
History Of The Ninja
The Ninja has always been shrouded in an alluring mystery that baffles many before, as it does today.
Though there are records of who they were, what they symbolized, and what they’ve done to impact Japan’s great history, there still is a myriad of information we don’t know about them.
And perhaps we never will.
That being said, let’s talk about the true origins of Ninja warriors and their swords, sans what modern popular media portrays them to be.
Originally called the Shinobi, ninjas took this name upon themselves to define who they are. Shinobi, when translated, means “concealed on.”
The earliest recordings of their existence were found to have dated back to the 15th century.
Contrary to what misconceptions have led many to believe, ninjas and samurais are very different from each other.
The first conduct their operations often in secret, hence their name.
Through remarkable intelligence and stealth, they hid behind the rankings of enemies in order to obtain crucial information that would help the ninjas triumph over them. They were essential in tipping the scales of winning and losing battles due to their tactical skills, so much so that those who honoured them greatly believe they have superhuman capabilities.
Through stories passed on from generation to generation, Fact became Legend, and Legend became Myth.
Their accounts became ridden with the mystical.
Hello, media’s portrayal of the Ninja— powerful beings with powerful capabilities that have to do with the supernatural.
Yet fortunately, some original accounts have survived.
Not many, but enough to tell you and me that these people once walked the earth and accomplished feats so fantastic, they’re regarded today as legendary and unrepeatable.
History Of The Ninja’s Mightiest Weapon: The Ninja Sword
Equally as striking as the history of the ninja is the ninja sword.
Called the Ninjato, or Swords Of The East, they were short and had traight blades that were single-edged.
Its length meant that ninjas were extremely adept in fighting close combat.
Unfortunately for all of us who want to set our eyes on evidence about original Ninjatos, no proof of their existence has survived the decades.
And in order to preserve what was seemingly lost, many swordsmiths forged ninja swords to what they understood them to be, based on the information passed down from their forefathers, their forefathers’ before.
In addition, what exists today are replicas of their original versions.
Though as previously mentioned, the 15th century saw the emergence of ninjas, it isn’t until the 17th century that hard evidence of their code and their swords was discovered.
The Ninja’s training manual, Shoniki, was translated into English as True Path Of The Ninja.
Among the pages are dozens of accounts about disguises, tactical know-how about infiltrating enemy lines, mastery of fighting skills, and more.
But what we’ll focus on is are the parts regarding the ninja sword.
And these details, you can use as a buying guide when you go hunting for authentic ninja swords.
Buying Guide For Authentic Ninja Swords
Blade Length And Weight
Ninja swords typically have a length of about 48cm. Although other versions may vary, their lengths are very close to this number.
As for sword weight, the digits to pay attention to are 0.42kg.
Another reason for these measurements other than close combat is that they’re easily concealable and can be conveniently carried around even on long travels.
Sword Design: The Bo-hi
There’s a feature that will immediately tell you that the sword you’re looking at is authentic (or as close to authentic as possible), and that’s the Bo-hi.
Located on the blade’s blunter side, you’ll notice a groove.
The purpose of this is to lighten the weight of the sword without needing to remould into something smaller or thinner.
Also, the Bo-hi is what causes that whizzing sound whenever the blade is used forcibly.
Tang Holes: Mekugi-ana
Next are the tang holes in the blade itself. These tiny holes help in allowing swift movements.
Similar to that of a samurai sword, a ninja sword has a hamon line as well.
This hamon line appears when a swordsmith hardens the sword in the latter half of the process.
It’s a wave-like design that isn’t at all symmetrical as it merely is an effect of the hardening process, and not really a meant to be a design.
Sword Handle: The Tsuka And Tsuka-ito
The sword hilt is carved out of wood and is wrapped with a Tsuka-ito. Silk, cotton, and leather are among the more known types of material that the Tsuka-ito is fashioned from.
What you need to look for is the way that the Tsuka-ito is wrapped around the Tsuka.
Even as it ages, it remains tightly bound with no strings falling out of order.
The design itself, though an aesthetic addition, are woven or sewn with preciseness, each pattern balances the other.
The same is true for the designs themselves.
Should they differ from one another, the whole of it must have a very proportionate appearance.
There you have it. A bit of the Ninja’s and Ninja Sword’s history, plus information you can use for your next ninja sword shopping spree.
These features are only a few of the many others that such swords have.
But these are the main peculiarities to watch out for when trying to distinguish faux ninja swords from authentic ones.