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Tachi forged by Bishu Osafune Sukesada, 12th year of the Eishō era, a day in February (1515, Muromachi). Saya in aogai-nashiji lacquer, golden decorations. Mounting from 1907, latest polish in 1987.
Tachi forged in 1997 by Matsuda Tsuguyasu, mounting koshirae type made in 1999 by Takeyama. Copy of a sabre of the end of the Heian era (11th century).

The tachi (太刀:たち ?) is a Japanese sword, often said to be more curved and slightly longer than the katana. However, Gilbertson, Oscar Ratti, and Adele Westbrook state that a sword is called a tachi when hung from the obi (belt or sash) with the edge down, and the same sword becomes a katana when worn edge up and thrust through the girdle.[1] The "tachi" style was eventually discarded in favor of the katana.

The daitō (long swords) that pre-date the katana average about 78cm in blade length, larger than the katana average of around 70cm. Unlike the traditional manner of wearing the katana, the tachi was worn hung from the belt with the cutting-edge down, and was usually used by cavalry. Deviations from the average length of tachi have the prefixes ko- for "short" and ō- for "great or large" attached. For instance, tachi that were shōtō and closer in size to a wakizashi were called kodachi. The longest tachi (considered a 15th century ōdachi) in existence is more than 3.7 meters in total length (2.2m blade) but believed to be ceremonial. In the year 1600, many old tachi were cut down into katana. The majority of surviving tachi blades now are o-suriage, so it is rare to see an original signed ubu tachi.


The tachi was used primarily on horseback, where it was able to be drawn efficiently for cutting down enemy footsoldiers. On the ground it was still an effective weapon, but somewhat awkward to use. This is why its companion, the uchigatana (the predecessor of the katana) was developed.

It was the predecessor to the katana as the battle-blade of feudal Japan's bushi (warrior class), and as it evolved into the later design, the two were often differentiated from each other only by how they were worn and by the fittings for the blades.

It was during the Mongol invasions that it was shown there were some weaknesses in the tachi sword which led to the development of the Katana.[2]

In later Japanese feudal history, during the Sengoku and Edo periods, certain high-ranking warriors of what became the ruling class would wear their sword tachi-style (edge-downward), rather than with the saya (scabbard) thrust through the belt with the edge upward.[3]

With the rising of militarism during the Shōwa era, the Imperial Japanese Army and the Imperial Japanese Navy implemented tachi called Shin guntō and Kai guntō.


  1. ^ 各時代の特徴 ― 財団法人 日本美術刀剣保存協会 ―
  2. ^ Tachi Japanese Sword
  3. ^ Kapp, Leon; Hiroko Kapp, Yoshindo Yoshihara (1987). The Craft of the Japanese Sword. Japan: Kodansha International. pp. 168. ISBN 978-0870117985.  

See also

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|Tachi forged by Bishu Osafune Sukesada, 12th year of the Eishō era, a day in February (1515, Muromachi). Saya in aogai-nashiji lacquer, golden decorations. Mounting from 1907, latest polish in 1987.]] The tachi is a Japanese sword, which has a strongly curved blade and is longer than a katana. It was used on the battlefield before katana was, so it is considered to be older. The word Tachi translates as "the soul of bushi" (soul of samurai).

When the katana began to be widely used the tachi sword became a court sword for ceremonies. It looks very richly decorated with traditional cord wrappings and a specially designed handle. The length of a tachi blade was around 30.70 inches (about 75cm). The first tachi swords were very long; they reached 12.14 feet (90cm) overall and 7.22 feet (17cm) for the blade. It is believed that they were meant for ceremonies. Because of its length the tachi was a cavalry sword and was mainly worn by horsemen. The strongly curved blade also made it easy to make slicing blows. Even if the tachi is a very long sword it is light enough to be handled with one hand. The tachi had a long enough hilt to hold it with two hands. It was especially useful for warriors who were not riding.

The tachi was worn hung to the belt with the cutting-edge down, unlike the katana which was worn with the cutting-edge pointing upwards. Not all tachi were the standard size. Small ones were called ko-dachi. If the sword was longer than the standard one it was called o-dachi.

The tachi that can be seen in museums have one or more chips along the back of the sword, while the cutting edge looks almost untouched and mirror polished. The experts explain that Samurai made the smallest possible moves with their tachi to kill the enemy. Thus when both swords were about to collide, the samurai both turned their swords and let only the blunt back (mune) of the blades hit one another. The cutting edge was used for finish touches, namely for cutting the human body.

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