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What Is the Japanese Kabutowari?

August 18, 2018

What Is the Japanese Kabutowari?

Also known as the hachiwari, the kabutowari is a traditional Japanese sword originating from the country's feudal period. As shown in the photo to the left, it's a relatively small sword that's akin to a long knife. While small in size, though, the kabutowari was a formidable weapon wielded by countless samurai warriors. In this post, we're going to explore the kabutowari, revealing the history of this small Japanese sword and how it was used.

Overview of the Kabutowari

Like many traditional Japanese swords, the kabutowari was constructed in a variety of styles and designs. Most, however, were classified as either a dirk or truncheon type. The former featured a sharper, more defined blade, whereas the latter featured a baton-like design for the blade and handle. Because of its blunt design, the truncheon kabutowari was used primarily for hitting enemies rather than slashing them.

In terms of size, the kabutowari was between 14 inches and 17 inches long. Of course, that makes it significantly shorter than the traditional Japanese katana, which often featured a blade length of about 23.5 inches.

History of the Kabutowari

The history of the kabutowari remains shrouded in mystery. It's unknown who invented this traditional Japanese sword or when they did it. Historians, however, believe it originated sometime during Japan's feudal period. Back then, Japan was under near-constant attack by Mongolian armies. This prompted bladesmiths to develop new swords and knives so that samurai warriors could better defend the region against the invading Mongolians. Among the bladed weapons pioneered during Japan's feudal period was the kabutowari.

How the Kabutowari Was Used

The kabutowari was used like other bladed weapons, with samurai warriors carrying and using them to engage opposing enemies. With its small blade, samurai warriors could quickly and efficiently draw the kabutowari, giving them the upper hand on their opponents.

It's important to note that the kabutowari typically wasn't the only bladed weapon carried by samurai warriors during Japan's feudal period. Rather, samurai warriors would carry it along with a longer, larger sword. Known as daisho, carrying two swords allowed samurai warriors to engage enemies in a variety of scenarios. Samurai warriors could use a long sword like the katana for open engagements, and they could use a short sword like the kabutowari for close-quarter engagements.

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