No doubt, the Samurais are usually in the imagination of most people across the globe due to the cultural depictions in movies and TV shows.
There are many things about these warriors that catch the attention of many people. One of them is the weapons or the swords that they used to fight against the opponents.
The Samurais put a lot of care on their weapons when they roamed the lands. Besides the famous Katana sword, the Samurai warriors also used the Japanese Tanto.
This is a great weapon that also has a rich history. This article discusses the Japanese Tanto.
Understanding the Japanese Tanto
You should note that the Tanto is a Japanese term that applies to all blades that are 30 centimeters or less in length. The blade length tends to begin from the tip up to the notch which is at the top of the tang.
Therefore, the Japanese swords that are between 30 and 60 cm are called the Tanto like the wakizashi while the ones with more than 30cm are referred to as short swords.
On the other hand, Japanese swords that are more than 60 cm are the long swords, such as the Tachi and Katana.
The Japanese usually called a larger Tanto blade sunnobi, which used to have a blade of at least 33cm.
During the medieval era, the difference between a long sword and a short sword was not clear, so many people called the Japanese sword a Tanto sword.
The Samurai used the Tanto as a sidearm. Some people say that the Samurai warriors wore a Tanto sword only when they were armored and chose a wakizashi in their everyday dress.
But other warriors would wear both the Tanto and the Wakizashi. This is the reason why some experts believe that there were no strict rules on the way they were supposed to carry the Tanto sword.
The Samurai warriors would sometimes try to avoid when they were defeated by performing the seppuku ritual suicide. They believed it was an honorable death to die like that.
Therefore, they utilized the wakizashi to do the ritual suicide, but later they liked to use the Tanto. The sword usually has a hilt as well as a scabbard made up of plain white wood.
Most experts also believe that the Ninjas utilized the Tanto besides their ninjato sword. During the Edo era, women could conceal a small Tanto in a brocade bag, and they used it for self-defense.
Nowadays, the Tanto is regarded as a protective charm called the omamori gatana, usually presented to newborn babies and Japanese brides wear them.
The Japanese government allows a licensed swordsmith to make traditional types of swords using Tamahagane steel.
The craftsmen can maintain their sword-making skills by crafting three shorter blades, such as the wakizashi or Tanto, or even two long swords each month. You need certification and permit to own a Tanto that is longer than 15 cm.
The Characteristics of the Tanto
Unlike the Katana, the long sword of the Samurai known as the Tanto is usually a shorter weapon. Most Samurai warriors carried these two weapons.
Because of its small size, the Tanto was usually utilized for close-quarter fights. They would use it when their katanas were considered to be ineffective or even as an emergency weapon in some situations.
The tip is a special feature of the Tanto, and it has a high point that has a flat grind. Several parts of metal that are at the tip make the blade effective for stabbing or piercing hard things, such as armor.
Besides, the accumulated metal tip tends to allow the blade to be utilized several times without breaking.
There is an angle that joins both the back angles and the front of this blade. As a result, this ensures that it doesn’t have a curve which is common in the Katana.
This takes away the blade’s belly, but it has a stronger tip than most of the Tanto blades measuring at least 60 cm or 24 inches.
As mentioned above, Japanese swordsmiths make the Tanto blades using Tamahagane which is a specific carbon steel common in samurai swords.
Most Tanto replicas also have high-carbon steel blades, but they are not made up of Tamahagane steel. Tanto replicas can also have Damascus steel which can be identified by its streaked and watered appearance because of varying carbon levels.
Above all, the Tanto blade has a unique appearance. You should remember that traditional Japanese swords are usually not reflective and look darker than modern steel blades.
Just like many samurai blades, the Tanto blade is also whitish on the edges as well as grayish on the opposite side.
But they tend to vary in grooves, carvings, and shape. That said, most blades usually have the hamon or temper line patterns and grain patterns also called jihada.
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