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An Overview of the Different Japanese Sword Mounts

April 19, 2017

An Overview of the Different Japanese Sword Mounts

Traditional Japanese swords are made with a variety of different mounts. In the most basic sense, "mount" refers to any housing or fitting (e.g. tosogu) used to secure the blade in place. Without this critical component, the blade wouldn't be connected to the handle. So, what are some of the most common types of mounts used in traditional Japanese swords?

Shirasaya

One of the most common and widely used types of mounts for Japanese swords is the shirasaya, which translates into "white scabbard." It consists of a scabbard and hilt, and is typically made of a special type of wood, known as nurizaya wood. Japanese swordsmiths typically used a shirasaya when the blade was going to be stored for a long period of time instead of used in the battlefield or for practice. If the blade was going to be used in the near future, the swordsmith would choose a different mount to protect it from damage.

Furthermore, the shirasaya typically wasn't used as a mount for blades intended to see combat. Unlike other mounts, it didn't feature a guard (tsuba). Creating handle wrappings for the shirasaya was also difficult, making it a poor a choice for combat-oriented swords.

Koshirae

A second type of mount used in traditional Japanese swords is the koshirae. The koshirae combined both aesthetic and functional elements, making it ideal for combat. This is actually a more broad category of mounts, however, each of which has its own unique characteristics. Now, let's take a closer look at some of the different koshirae mounts...

Common types of koshirae include the following:

  • Tachi -- this style of koshirae was typically used for the small tachi (hence the name). It features a hilt with a curve greater than that of the blade. The swordsmith would secure the hilt using two pegs.
  • Katana -- the most common type of koshirae-style mount is the katana (uchigatana). Swords featuring this mount are worn with the cutting-edge facing up, which is contrasts to the tachi-style, which calls for the cutting-edge facing up.
  • Half tachi -- also known as the han-dachi, the half tachi style was worn by warriors in the same manner as the katana style, though it also included some tachi fittings like the kabuto-gane.
  • Aikuchi -- this mount style is typically used on small Japanese swords. It involves joining the tsuka and saya directly, without the standard tsuba to separate them. The aukuchi became a popular choice of mount among the upper-class in feudal Japan.

Visit our custom sword gallerytoday to see various types of mounts. Here is an exampleof an Aiguchi style mount.


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