Traditional Japanese Weapon: The 15 Most Deadly

arme japonaise

Famous and admired throughout the world, the samurai warrior art has produced many deadly weapons. This know-how was developed through the many wars waged by the samurai.

The latter produced such weapons in part because of their particular philosophy of life. The Japanese were always looking for efficiency while adding a touch of art.

We give you here the 15 most deadly weapons that feudal Japan could produce.

Katana illustration

The katana, the great star of Japanese weapons

The katana is the most famous weapon in the West.

1. The quality of the cut: the popularity of the katana comes mainly from its exceptional quality of cut. The katana is shaped to cut anything and everything. It could even pierce some of the armors of the time.

2. Relatively light weapon: its low weight also makes it a formidable weapon. The katana is around 1 kg and is very easy to handle. It allows to slice efficiently without tiring the wearer. Samurai wore the katana on their belts during battles. They strike with both hands to deliver the most powerful blows possible.

3. An artistic weapon: if the katana is so popular, it is also for its aestheticism. Its handle is made of ropes woven around the handle and of a particular color. The blade of the katana has patterns that make it unique. It is forged using a steel bending technique that gives it a recognizable look.

4. A cultural influence: the katana gave birth to many martial arts, the most famous being kenjutsu. The handling of the katana was seen as a life’s work. Japan has created great master swordsmen who have made this weapon famous all over the world.

Today, the katana is considered a true work of art because of the great care it takes to forge it.

Its average length of 60 cm is ideal for slicing the enemy at a relatively large distance.

Where to buy a good katana?

Our store is specialized in selling Japanese swords. If you want to buy a katana forged in the rules of art, you are at the right place.

All our katana are forged in the spirit of the Japanese tradition in order to offer you models of the highest possible quality.

Click here to see the store.

The wakizashi: the katana’s little brother

Illustration wakizachi

1. A smaller blade: the wakizashi is a small katana which is about 40cm long and is sometimes difficult to differentiate from its counterpart. The wakizashi is held with one hand and complements the use of the katana by the samurai.

2. Adapted to small spaces: this smaller sword appeared during the Muromachi period and was intended to bring a wider range of techniques to the samurai. The main advantage of wakizashi is that it allows you to fight in smaller spaces. The 60cm katana is often too big to fight in a closed room. The blade may get caught on an object or wall. The wakizashi is smaller, lighter and can be held with one hand. Samurai also use this weapon to extend their attacking movements. Thus, you take the initiative with the katana and you draw the wakizashi to finish your opponent.

3. A quality blade: its blade is just as sharp as the katana and its manufacturing technique is almost the same. Therefore, the wakizashi is a weapon of choice and very deadly.

4. The weapon for seppukus: the wakizashi was also used for seppukus when a samurai had been dishonored. In many cases, these were samurai who had disobeyed their master’s orders.

The kaiken: a mini version of a Japanese sword

Kaiken illustration

1. A small self-defense weapon: it is an even smaller sword than the wakizashi. The latter could often be hidden in a kimono and surprise an attacker. Japanese women used the kaiken for their defense. It was often given by the husband as a sign of the unbreakable bond between the two people. Kaiken were used by the samurai in situations where combat was not appropriate.

2. An effective weapon: it does not exceed 20cm but is nevertheless devastating. His sharp blade pierces anything his effort!

3. A kaiken acts as a dagger: it is very handy and can be held with one hand.

The traditional Japanese bow : the yumi

The Yumi, Japanese bow

1. A longbow: the yumi is a traditional Japanese bow that is very long, about 2 meters.

2. A bow for mounted combat: its handle is located 2⁄5th from the bow to facilitate downward shots. Samurais are then much more stable on their horses when shooting with arrows.

3. Resistant and flexible materials: yumis are made of very resistant bamboo to support the hard fights. The rope was made of silk because of its flexibility.

4. Atypical arrows: you can recognize a Yumi bow by the sound the arrows make. These are very long and their shape depends on the samurai’s preferences and their characteristics. Samurais used to hang a whistle on their arrows to scare their enemies when they shot.

5. Difficult to handle: due to its large size, the Yumi requires a lot of training to be fully mastered. Samurai could also use smaller bows, called hankyu, but these were rare.

Naginata illustration

The naginata : samurai halberd

1. An imposing weapon: the naginata it allowed the samurais to hold their enemies at a distance in combat. It was about 2 meters long and had a large blade at the end. The naginata is inspired by Chinese halberds. It was used a lot during the medieval battles which were multiplying at that time.

2. A light and handy weapon: it was relatively light with its wooden handle and its flattened blade. It was so handy that it even allowed the samurai to cut the hocks of horses in a race to bring down their opponents.

3. An execution weapon: samurais use this weapon to execute their opponents with great ease. It was also used on horseback to kill enemies on the ground with great ease.

The samurai spear: the yari

The Yari: Illustration

It is also inspired by Chinese weapons which were big at the time. The yari is a large spear that was wielded very early in history, in the Kamakura period of Japan.

1. A long weapon: yari spears are huge and can reach breathtaking sizes of up to 6 meters long. The tip of the yari can reach 60 centimeters. Samurai used the yari to defend important positions. The large size of these weapons makes the samurai almost untouchable.

2. A variety of blades: the tip of the yari is available in several sizes depending on the use. For thrusting, a straight blade is preferred. In contrast, a curved blade is used for devastating cutting movements.

The Japanese axe: the masakari

Illustration: the Masakari

1. An imposing weapon: the masakari is an axe that could weigh up to 4 kg. As for its size, it often reached more than a meter in length. Because of its corpulence, only the best built samurai could hope to handle it properly. This weapon was therefore very little used.

2. A samurai weapon: this axe was the weapon of choice of the warrior monks but was quickly adopted by the samurai in battle.

3. A multifunctional weapon: some masakari have points on their blades to make thrusting blows to the enemies. This gives the weapon a certain versatility and makes it more complete in combat. The masakari axe could also pierce armor because of its weight.

The two-handed sword: the nodachi

Illustration: the Nodachi

1. A difficult weapon to handle: the nodachi was a very heavy weapon. Precisely, it is a large katana of 2 meters long, used in particular during the Namboku-chô period.

2. A formidable weapon: the nodachi is however a formidable weapon if the wearer has the strength to fight with it. Its long blade allows very wide cuts. A samurai equipped with a nodachi could slice through many opponents in his line of attack and intimidate his opponents. The nodachi was also used to cut the hocks of horses. According to the legends, a nodachi would be able to cut the horse and the rider at the same time with a single blow.

3. A prestigious weapon: only rich samurais could afford such a nihonto. Few blacksmiths were forging this weapon en masse. They only made them to order.

It was only handled by high ranking samurai. The samurai in question had to have an assistant during the fights with a nodachi.

The sharp fan of Japan: the tessen

war fan: the Tessen

We wouldn’t necessarily think of using a fan as a weapon. However, the Japanese imagined the fan as a weapon of choice in unarmed places. The latter sharpen their fans at the level of the canvas.

1. A concealed weapon: a tessen weighs about 1 kg and can hold a small knife inside. They were especially useful when samurai entered a house and had to lay down their weapons at the entrance.

The fan was effective for the surprise effect it possessed. It was an ordinary looking object that could cause heavy damage in environments not armed with katanas and wakisashi.

2. A multifunctional weapon: the tessen also had many other uses in combat and battle situations. It could be used as a tool to swim faster or even to parry shuriken or dart throws.

The horse sword: the tachi

the Tachi

1. A historical sword: the tachi is one of the very first swords to have been invented in the war history of Japan. It is also attached to the belt of the samurai like a classic katana.

2. A curved blade: the particularity of the tachi is that it allows to hit an enemy on foot much more easily than a katana. Its very curved blade was very useful to strike sharp blows with greater ease.

3. A dethroned weapon: the tachi was a widely used weapon before the katana appeared. It was wielded with one hand and then with two hands to deliver powerful and devastating blows to the enemies. The tachi has been dethroned by the katana, which is considered more versatile in combat situations.

Shuriken : deadly projectiles

The Shuriken

Shuriken appear during the Kamakura period and are used as projectiles.

1. A discreet weapon: they are very mobile and can be hidden in the samurai’s equipment.

2. The diversity of shuriken:

a) Bo-shuriken look like kunais, like in Naruto. They look like a small knife that can be thrown at enemies.

b) The hira-shuriken is a star that is launched and spun in the air before being planted in its target. This is the most known form of shuriken.

c) The senban-shuriken are shurikens like the hira-shuriken but this time in a diamond shape. They were sometimes tied to a rope to perform deadly sweeping movements. The senban-shuriken are small spikes that we can also see in Naruto with Haku. They were sometimes hidden in the mouth and thrown in the faces of opponents.

The nunchaku : Bruce Lee’s weapon

Illustration: Nunchaku

1. A double-edged weapon: the nunchaku is a fearsome Japanese weapon but it is double-edged for its carrier. It is very effective if well mastered. But the mistake can be fatal on this type of rotating weapon. A badly controlled nunchaku can turn against its bearer and inflict heavy damages.

2. An offensive and defensive weapon: its relative long range makes it a weapon ready for any situation. The nunchaku is not a lethal weapon, but it allows however to stun his opponent or to break his limbs. It can be particularly deadly if struck to the head, shattering the opponent’s skull.

3. A training weapon: it allows to work on coordination, strength and speed.

The sai : a very powerful Asian dagger

The Sai

1. A parry weapon: the Sai is a kind of small dagger with three forks. It is effective in parrying sword blows and breaking them. It is indeed possible to catch the opponent’s blade between the forks and break it by rotating it.

2. Agricultural origins: it is basically an agricultural tool that was used to plant rice. The peasants gradually turned it into a weapon to defend themselves. However, the sai can only sting the opponent and cannot slice.

The kanabo : the Japanese club

The Kanabo, Illustration

1. A barbarian weapon: it is a heavy stick made of solid oak and with metal spikes at the end. This weapon was used to destroy the armor of opponents.

2. A heavy weapon: its heavy weight made it a devastating weapon but not very versatile. It could be used to break the legs of horses. Only the strongest samurai could hope to handle such an object in real combat.

The tonfa: a Japanese baton

The Tonfa

The tonfa is also a non-lethal weapon in theory.

1. A classic weapon: it is a kind of baton with a perpendicular bar to hold it horizontally. It can be made of wood or metal and is still used today by some fonts.

2. A potentially lethal weapon: the tonfa can be a devastating weapon with the same effects as a nunchaku. It is however much easier to use for an efficiency equal to the nunchaku. The tonfa can be deadly if used to strike the head.


Which Japanese weapon is the most deadly?

The katana is probably the most deadly weapon that Japan has ever created. It is a sword of 60cm long with a slightly curved blade. The best katana are in tamahagane. They are known worldwide for their exceptional sharpness.

Is the katana the best weapon in Japan?

Yes, the katana has been used in battles with its long and sharp blade. Its strength lies in its versatility and the variety of possible movements. For a weapon of this magnitude its weight is ridiculously low, averaging one kilogram for a katana.

Where to buy a traditional Japanese katana?

Visit our specialized store to buy a traditionally forged katana. We give you all the best tips to select the model that suits you best!