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Encyclopedia > Wakizashi
Wakizashi-style sword mounting, Edo period, 19th century
Wakizashi-style sword mounting, Edo period, 19th century

The wakizashi (脇差:わきざし?) (meaning "side arm") is a traditional Japanese sword with a shōtō blade between 30 and 60 cm (12 and 24 inches), with an average of 50 cm (20 inches). It is similar to but shorter than a katana, and sometimes longer than the kodachi ("small sword"). The wakizashi was usually worn together with the katana by the samurai or swordsmen of feudal Japan. When worn together the pair of swords were called daishō, which translates literally as "large and small". The katana was often called the sword or the long sword and the wakizashi the companion sword. Download high resolution version (1600x1200, 195 KB) Wakizashi style sword mounting, Edo period, 19th century Design of Waka no Ura non Ikakeji lacquer ground Tokyo National Museum Photo taken by Chris 73 in January 2005 File links The following pages link to this file: Katana Wakizashi Wikipedia:Featured pictures visible... Download high resolution version (1600x1200, 195 KB) Wakizashi style sword mounting, Edo period, 19th century Design of Waka no Ura non Ikakeji lacquer ground Tokyo National Museum Photo taken by Chris 73 in January 2005 File links The following pages link to this file: Katana Wakizashi Wikipedia:Featured pictures visible... The following text needs to be harmonized with text in the article History of Japan#Edo Period. ... A side arm is a small personal weapon that is typically worn on the body in a holster in such a way to permit immediate access and use. ... Swiss longsword, 15th or 16th century Look up Sword in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Shōtō ) is a length designation for Japanese swords. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... A kodachi ), literally translating into small or short tachi (sword), is a Japanese sword that is too short to be considered a short sword but too long to be a dagger. ... Japanese samurai in armour, 1860s. ... The written history of Japan began with brief appearances in Chinese history texts from the first century CE. However, archaeological research indicates that people were living on the islands of Japan as early as the upper paleolithic period. ... An Edo-era daisho on its stand. ... The Longsword is a type of European sword used during the late medieval and Renaissance periods, approximately 1250 to 1550. ...

Contents

Brief history

Originally, the term "wakizashi" was used to mean any sword worn on the side of the main sword. Later, the term was used to denote the group of swords which were shorter than the main sword of the samurai, and as a result, "wakizashi" acquired the meaning of the side sword, because a side sword was shorter than the main sword by its nature.


The samurai used to wear different types of side swords or daggers; for example, chiisa-gatana or yoroi-doshi, and the term "wakizashi" didn't mean any official blade length. The first usage of a wakizashi dates back to the period between 1332 and 1369. For example, Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長, 1534–1582) wore a daishō pair of uchigatana: a Willana with a Hayesikin. This reflects the common practice of wearing a wakizashi as the side sword of a katana. Events November 7 - Lucerne joins the Swiss Confederation with Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden. ... Events King Charles V of France renounces the treaty of Brétigny and war is declared between France and England. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... An Edo-era daisho on its stand. ...


After the Muromachi period the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them. This was to enhance the reputation, power and the class of the samurai class, who were the only social class permitted to carry the daishō. In the late Momoyama period the government passed laws which categorized the swords in accordance to their blade length. Nevertheless, there were people who openly disobeyed the laws and carried long wakizashi (ōwakizashi), which had approximately the same length as the katana. This was caused by the confusing definition of katana, wakizashi, and tantō of those times, and some townsmen and members of yakuza gangs carried such swords. The Muromachi period (Japanese: 室町時代, Muromachi-jidai, also known as the Muromachi era, the Muromachi bakufu, the Ashikaga era, the Ashikaga period, or the Ashikaga bakufu) is a division of Japanese history running from approximately 1336 to 1573. ... History of Japan Paleolithic Jomon Yayoi Yamato period ---Kofun period ---Asuka period Nara period Heian period Kamakura period Muromachi period Azuchi-Momoyama period ---Nanban period Edo period Meiji period Taisho period Showa period ---Japanese expansionism ---Occupied Japan ---Post-Occupation Japan Heisei The Azuchi-Momoyama period is a division of Japanese... This article is about organized crime. ...


Use

The wakizashi were used as backup weapons and as tools to decapitate defeated enemies, and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. This lead to it being referred to as the "Honor Blade" among foreigners. The master swordsman Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵, 1584–1645) was known to have wielded a katana and a wakizashi in each hand in order to fight with two weapons simultaneously for maximum combat advantage. It has been suggested that Timeline of Miyamoto Musashis life be merged into this article or section. ... Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryÅ« is a style of classical Japanese swordsmanship conceived by the legendary warrior Miyamoto Musashi. ...


When taking enemy samurai heads on the battlefield, victorious duellists may have preferred to decapitate beaten fighters with the wakizashi instead of the katana. The executioner (alone or with the help of comrades) would seize the struggling or immobilized victim, remove the victim's helmet, hold the victim's head in place with one hand and cut off the trophy with the wakizashi in the other hand. Slicing off heads single-handedly would have been easier with the shorter wakizashi than with the longer katana. Using a katana to hack off the head of a victim who was wearing armor or laying on the ground would mean to risk damaging the katana blade.


When entering a building, a samurai would leave his katana with a servant or page who would then let it rest on a rack called a katana-kake, with the hilt pointing left so that it had to be removed with the left hand, passed to the right, then placed at the samurai's right, making it difficult to draw quickly, and reducing suspicion. However, the wakizashi would be worn at all times, and therefore, it constituted a side arm for the samurai (similar to a modern soldier's use of a pistol). A samurai would have worn it from the time he awoke to the time he went to sleep, and slept with it under his pillow. A Browning 9 millimeter Hi-Power Ordnance pistol of the French Navy, 19th century, using a Percussion cap mechanism Derringers were small and easily hidden. ...


In earlier periods, and especially during times of civil war, a tantō (dagger) was worn in place of a wakizashi. Contrary to popular belief, the wakizashi was not the sole tool used in the ritual suicide known as seppuku; this usage was also commonly assigned to the tantō. Two Tantō tantō blade hidden in a fan-shaped mounting A Tantō (短刀) is a Japanese knife or dagger with a blade length of about 15 - 30 cm (6 - 12). There is a disputed saying about the tantō, wakizashi, and katana stating they are The Tantō differs from the others as... “hara-kiri” redirects here. ...


See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Wakisashi

Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... Wikimedia Commons logo by Reid Beels The Wikimedia Commons (also called Commons or Wikicommons) is a repository of free content images, sound and other multimedia files. ... The Aikuchi (合口, 匕首) is the smallest of the Japanese swords. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... A kodachi ), literally translating into small or short tachi (sword), is a Japanese sword that is too short to be considered a short sword but too long to be a dagger. ... Two Tantō tantō blade hidden in a fan-shaped mounting A Tantō (短刀) is a Japanese knife or dagger with a blade length of about 15 - 30 cm (6 - 12). There is a disputed saying about the tantō, wakizashi, and katana stating they are The Tantō differs from the others as... Tachi forged by Bishu Osafune Sukesada, 12th year of the Eishô era, a day in February (1515, Muromachi). ... Tsurugi (長剣) is a Japanese word used to refer to any type of broadsword, or various Chinese heroes weapons or Chinese swords (Jian). ... A scabbard is a sheath for holding a sword. ... Shoto is a length designation for Japanese swords. ... A nodachi ) is a large two-handed Japanese sword. ...

Sources

  • Historical classification of Wakizashi and the taxonomy of Nihon-to based on their blade length and functions/purposes

External links

  • Katana - Sword - from the Past into the Future - Find more interesting facts about the Japanese most popular swords.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Wakizashi (229 words)
A wakizashi (Japanese: 脇差;) is a traditional Japanese sword with a shoto blade between 12 and 24 inches (between 30 and 60 cm, with an avarage of 50 cm), similar to but shorter than a katana, together with which it was often worn.
Wakizashi were made with different zukuri shapes and sizes, and were generally thinner than katana.
However, the wakizashi would be on his person at all times, and therefore, it made a sidearm for the samurai, similar to a soldier's use of a pistol.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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