The katana was a long sword. Only those of the samurai caste might legally carry it. [1]

First Katana Edit

It was told that in the year 19, Kakita himself was the first to forge a blade which was deemed to be considered a katana, following the teachings of an old woman who had introduced herself as Grandmother, who eventually turned into a Kenku. [2]

Appearance Edit

It was the weapon of choice for most samurai. It was a curved single edged blade approximately 78cm to 1 meter in length. It was typically paired with a wakizashi to form a set called a daisho. The blade was stored in a scabbard called a saya which was often considered to be a part of the sword and cared for accordingly. Symbolizing both the status of the samurai caste and the soul of the warrior, the katana was handed down from generation to generation. Someone who touched the blade of the katana without the permission of its owner must face dire consequences. [3] The first katana was wielded by Kakita at the First Emerald Tournament, [4] despite some said that Chikara, the sword blade by Kaiu that slew Hatsu Suru no Oni, was the first katana. [5]

Smithing Edit

The katana's soul was the most important part. Samurai might believe the katana held their soul, but in truth every truly perfect blade had its own spirit. The samurai's soul influenced the sword, and vice versa. A sword was nothing without a name, and it was best to give the name before the steel fully cooled. A soulless blade was a terrible thing. [6]

When a blacksmith forged a katana, he empowered it with his own soul, sometimes awak­ening the spirit within the steel. Swords were cre­ated from all Five Elements: Earth (the steel), Fire (the forge), Water (that the red-hot steel was cooled in), Air (used to fan the fire) and Void (from the blacksmith himself). This made the sword the most perfect and honorable weapon. [7]

Parts of the Blade Edit

If a Samurai cannot be bothered to care for his swords, he had best not dare to rely upon them in turn.

There were five distinct parts of the Rokugani katana.

  • The hamon, which was the tempered pattern along the edge of the blade.
  • The kissaki, or tip of the weapon.
  • The monouchi, which was the first eight inches of the cutting edge of the blade.
  • The mune, which was the back of the blade roughly eight inches from the end.
  • The shinogi, which was the backside of the blade half the length from the handle.

All blades also featured the tang, which was the section of metal that extended into the handle. The tang was often marked by the personal mon of the man who made the blade or the person who tested it. Most blades were not flawless, and these flaws were known as kizu. They could present as blisters, stress fractures or wrinkles on the metal. [9]

Testing the Blade Edit

Each weapon smith had a different way of testing their blades to see if they lived up to the standards set by their clan. The Unicorn and Lion Clans tested their new blades on convicted criminals, and the record for most criminals cut through was eight (set by Akodo Mayuko in 643). The Kaiu tested their blades against a helm created by another Kaiu, and the Kakita Blades were tested against a tall stone located in the mountains above Kyuden Doji. The tang of the blade was marked with the depth and angle the cut made. [9]

Status Edit

The katana was a large part of Rokugani culture. It acted as both the soldier's standard-issue weapon and as a symbol of a samurai's status. Wearing a katana signified that the wearer was apt in swordsmanship and must use it to defend the empire as well as his family honor. Those who did not carry a katana were permitted to employ a yojimbo or personal champion to fight in their stead. By Imperial Decree, only members of the Samurai caste (see Celestial Order) were permitted to carry and use a katana. Rokugani culture dictated that samurai use the katana when fighting one another.[citation needed]

Clan Designs Edit

The design of katana varied from clan to clan, and in seasons of war and peace. The hilt of the katana was often longer when made in times of war. This allowed the wielder more control and leverage, but made it bulkier and less fashionable. Katana created in peace time would often have a shorter hilt, and be more decorative in appearance.[citation needed]

Katana Techniques Edit

Use of the katana varied, as techniques differed in the Empire. Its primary mode was that of a slashing weapon. Its design catered to cutting flesh and bone, not heavy armor or other weapons (though finely crafted and ancient katana were known to accomplish this). Thrusting moves were also used, but were not as common. Katana could be wielded with one hand, two hands or in conjunction with a tessen or wakizashi in the off hand.[citation needed]

Family weapon Edit

Katana were handed down from generation to generation, following the Rokugani belief that continual close contact with an item could leave a "spiritual echo" on it. So wielding a family's sword, a samurai was carrying around a part of the souls of ancestors. [10]


  1. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 10
  2. Imperial Archives, p. 88
  3. Legend of the Five Rings; Third Edition, p. 312
  4. Imperial Histories, p. 32
  5. Book of Fire, p. 107
  6. Immortal Steel, by Shawn Carman
  7. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 181
  8. Complete Exotic Arms Guide, p. 7
  9. 9.0 9.1 Way of the Samurai, p. 7
  10. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 36

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