Engineering Transactions, 60, 2, pp. 101–112, 2012

Impact Behaviour of the Japanese Sword

Muroran Institute of Technology

Graduate School of Engineering Science Osaka University

The Japanese sword is a weapon peculiar to Japan. The present study is concerned with
the joint between tohshin (blade) and tsuka (hilt) of the Japanese sword. Only one mekugi-
take (retaining peg made of bamboo) with about 5mm in diameter holds the tang in the hilt.
However a slender mekugi might not be broken, even in the case of violent sword-fighting. This
fact has been historically demonstrated in many battles by Japanese swords. In this study it
is examined theoretically and experimentally from the viewpoint of impact engineering why
a mekugi used in Tachi and Katana may not be broken. As a result, it is found that such
a strong force as breaking a mekugi-take does not act on it, because of the location of mekugi-
ana (a hole for mekugi ) in the tang, which has been made in the Japanese sword by following
the traditional code of sword-smiths.
Keywords: impact force, impact response, Japanese sword, Tachi, joint of blade and hilt, mekugi-ana
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