16 very popular traditional Japanese weapons

Searching traditional japanese weapons? You came to the right place! Japanese warriors have been characterized throughout history by presenting fighting techniques very different from those of the West.

Provided with quintessential japanese weapons, they became bloodthirsty and practically indestructible beings, with a lethal handling of the sword, the spear, small knives and many other weapons of assault and defense.

You may be familiar with many of the traditional weapons of Japan that appear frequently in movies.

The Japanese katana It is one of the most typical, in addition to other pieces that we recognize but whose name you don't know.

Today we make a collection of all Japanese weapons used by ancient warriors, turned into legendary pieces of Japanese history.

samurai in miyajima japan

Used primarily by ancient samurai warriors, and more recently by Japanese ninja, the use of weapons for martial arts dates back 1600 years.

There are some edged weapons less known but highly effective to bring down the enemy that has nothing to do with those used by medieval warriors in Europe.

Would you like it learn more about traditional Japanese weapons? Do not miss this complete guide on the use of weapons in medieval Japan prior to the introduction of current firearms. They will surprise you!

In this article you will find ...


    Japanese weapons throughout history

    Japan has always been a country with its own history isolated from the rest of the world. Made up of hundreds of islandsIn each of the areas that make up the current Japanese empire, their own battles were fought for the conquest of the land and for honor.

    Thanks to this feature, today they are known many kinds of different japanese weapons that were created and used in each region.

    archer on horseback in japan

    Before the introduction of firearms, which occurred much later than in the rest of the world, knives were used in Japan to fight hand to hand.

    Some of the oldest and easiest to make were bows. Followed by edged weapons and polearms, which have become famous throughout the world for the uniqueness of their shape and use.

    Also because of the curiosity aroused in the West by the world of samurai warriors and ninjas who were experts in handling what are considered some of the best weapons in the world.

    naruto shuriken ninja weapon

    Let's see what are the Japanese weapons that have been used throughout the centuries by warriors from all over Japan, from the best known (and unknown) to the most original.

    What traditional Japanese weapon do you know? Let's play a little game! See if the following names are familiar to you before discovering which Japanese weapon it is.

    Most popular traditional weapons in Japan


    We start with a very easy traditional Japanese weapon. Maybe is the best known inside and outside of Japan, whose name is directly associated with the medieval warriors of the Japanese country.

    It consists of a type of elongated saber with curved blade, which was around a meter or more in length.

    original japanese katana

    Although it is the best known type of sword, it is not the oldest used in Japan. The manufacture of katanas dates back to the 10th-12th century, and the idea was introduced from China.

    The warriors who entered Japan from the neighboring country used this type of long swords to fight the enemy from the horse, attacking the animal to knock down its rider.

    ✅ Can you buy one katana in japan? We tell you everything you need to know clicking here

    Little by little the Japanese sword evolved, going from being a very heavy blade, to a much lighter and extremely sharp cutting edge.

    However, it has been described as an uncomfortable weapon to fight on the battlefield, since it is practical for attack, but not so much for defense.

    katana japanese sword for beginners

    Even today, Japanese katanas are still used among the martial arts weapons due to the popularity they have in the country.

    In addition to being one of the most famous samurai weaponsIn Japan, high-quality pieces are still made by expert masters, preserved as collectibles for their beauty.

    Buy Katana


    Much more practical than the vast majority of types of Japanese swords, the yari was a Japanese weapon used by warriors to attack cavalry, the first weapon of defense of armies.

    It consists of a traditional spear composed of a very long stick and a straight blade at the tip, very, very sharp.

    yari martial arts weapons

    It was from the Japanese weapons deadliest on the battlefieldboth to take down the warriors on foot and on horseback.

    Very light and easy to use, with it it was possible annihilate the enemy with a single cut, staying a few meters away from safety.

    The yari spear was the weapon par excellence in the battles that took place during the 14th century. Is derived from a more rudimentary weapon, the hoko, made of less resistant materials.

    On the hoko the staff of the spear was inserted into the blade, causing it to break easily. But in the yari it was done the other way around, preventing the hilt from breaking in half, lasting longer in battle.

    hoko yari japanese weapon

    They were cheap and easy to make parts, whose steel blades could be reused after the fight when the handle was damaged. There are different popular types of yari:

    • Kikuchi yari
    • Sasaho yari
    • Sansaku yari
    • Ryo shinogi fukuro yari
    • Straight yari with skirt
    • Jumonji yari

    For this reason it was used by practically all the men of the armies, including the great samurai like the famous general Honda Tadakatsu, with his spear called Tonbokiri, 'dragon-fly' in Japanese.

    Buy Yari


    One of the ancient Japanese weapons that has more centuries of tradition is the bow.

    Long before swords and spears, the warriors of Japan defended themselves with a simple bow called yumi, with an incredible technique riding a horse at the same time. The art of Japanese kyudo consists precisely of this.

    japanese yumi bow

    Originating from the fights of the first samurai, these warriors they shot arrows with their yumi on horseback, holding on only with his legs to have both hands free while they managed to hit the target at full gallop.

    This technique is still followed practicing in Japan, as a way to preserve one of the most interesting aspects of the culture of the country.

    The first warriors of the twelfth century still did not use swords, but were great skilled in the use of yumi.

    A large bow about 220cm on average, made of very light wood. The most deadly among the Japanese armies that fought among themselves and also with the foreign enemy.

    japanese bow yumi price

    The Japanese bow has nothing to do with the bows used by western warriors. Not even among the West Asian armies.

    In Japan, a arch up to 3 times longer and asymmetrically shaped, which provides better mobility to warriors kyudokas when riding.

    Buy Yumi


    Wakizashi is a type of shoto, or Japanese short sword, with a shape similar to the katana but a shorter blade and handle.

    Easier to handle, the vast majority of samurai warriors in the Edo era wore a katana and a wakizashi at all times, which they used according to the occasion to fight or defend themselves.

    katana wakizashi sword

    The set of these two Japanese weapons is known as daisho, and it was only allowed to the most important warriors of the time.

    Although katanas were made exclusively for warriors, the rest of the men who sought protection had easier access to the short sword, which was cheaper.

    wakizashi sword buy

    East saber between 30 and 60 cm in length it used to be used with one hand. In closed places, and also to defend against an attack, it is much more practical than the long sword, and more deadly than a dagger, since its long blade is used to cut.

    Another use of wakizashi was as part of suicide weapons. It was a Japanese weapon used in most Harakiri rituals, since due to its size it is easier to place on the belly to make a clean and accurate cut.

    Buy Wakizashi


    We continue with sword-type weapons, with one of the favorites of the infantry on horseback during the thirteenth century.

    People say that the tachi was the forerunner of the current katana, somewhat shorter and easier to use to attack the enemy at full gallop.

    best japanese tachi weapons

    This weapon was carried by the samurai on horseback hanging from the belt. The blade is about 70 cm, with a size between katana and wakizashi.

    The shape of the blade it is somewhat more curved, better adapting the blow so that the weapon better fulfills its function with the inertia of the movement.

    The creation of later Japanese swords, somewhat longer, relegated the tachi to the background, as ceremonial sword used only by high ranking samurai.

    This was continued to be used exclusively by the warriors fighting on horseback, that as the centuries passed they diminished in number between the Japanese armies.

    types of sword in japan

    In close combat, the curved sword can also be very useful. Allows a clean cut from bottom to top, improving the power of the blow without having to apply too much force.

    All of that above is an advantage, since its weight is somewhat lighter than other Japanese weapons.

    Buy Tachi

    So much

    Another of the ancient weapons of traditional Japan is the tanto. It is a type of japanese dagger, with a 30 cm blade that was used in close combat to pierce the opponent's armor.

    Due to the agility of the female samurai wars, these were the greatest experts in the use of the Japanese knife.

    so much samurai sword

    exist two types of knives that receive different names according to the shape of the grip: the aikuchi Y hamidachi.

    The aikuchi it's a more rudimentary knife which has a fish skin grip directly on the blade, while the hamidachi it has a wooden handle and lacquered that better protects the hand.

    both old japanese

    This dagger used to always be kept hidden, like defense weapon only in extreme cases. For this, it was covered with a thick cloth or a carved sheath in the case of the higher-ranking lords, taking it out when killing the enemy.

    It has been associated in recent centuries as a woman's gun both for the form and for the type of use that has been given to it, being one of the deadliest blades in the history of Japan for the number of important men who have been annihilated with a knife so much.

    Buy So Much


    The naginata is a type of spear somewhat different from the yari. Instead of a straight blade with both cutting edges, this spear from feudal Japan has a curved tip at the end of a long shaft.

    This is a very much weapon more effective on the battlefield, as deadly as a sword, but easier to use.

    naginata japanese weapon

    This long spear is extremely light in weight, so it was the favorite of samurai women.

    Females were the greatest experts in the world. naginatajutsu martial art, or the combat technique with the naginata. It was also widely used among young combatants, as it is a long-range weapon that offers protection against the enemy.

    alternative japan naginatajutsu martial art

    The Japanese spear has always been the infantry corps' tool to attack cavalry. Even in times of peace, throughout Japan its use was still practiced among the upper classes of society, being one of the most elegant and graceful weapons.

    Somewhat less elegant, but very effective at killing, is the kurasigama, a sickle formed by a blade with a wooden handle and tied with a long chain.

    Buy Naginata


    Halfway between a short sword and a spearToday the nagamaki is a Japanese collector's weapon of which there are not many units left.

    It was popular with 12th and 14th centuries, later falling into disuse when being superseded by other much lighter and more compact spears and small daggers.

    nagamaki vs katana

    However, during the time the nagamaki was employed, many Japanese warriors became indestructible. It consists of a single-edged sword with a hilt the same length as the blade, to be able to attack from afar.

    It was very useful in horse fighting, to attack the other side's cavalry from the ground, and also in open field fighting.

    Very Lightweight and strong, the blade provided a clean cut that was effective even against steel reinforcement, and especially when it comes to hurting horses.

    Nagamaki sword of Japan

    Unlike other types of weapon with a sharp blade, the aesthetics of the nagamaki was very varied.

    There was Japanese weapons with thinner blades, others with curved edges, and some straighter, which were almost always protected by a safety hood to transport it out of combat.

    Buy Nagamaki


    Although at first the sai was a tool for agricultural use, due to its practicality in battle it became part of the usual weapons of the japanese armed forces.

    It consists of a blunt dagger, which has a long spike tip, in addition to two other lateral points as defense and stability. The sai can have different forms according to the time and the type of use that is given to it.

    sai weapon measures

    Whereas the farm implements had completely straight side spikes, the more modern weapons have skewers open out which are also used as defense when doing wrist twists.

    This dagger it is handled in pairs, carrying one in each hand, while some warriors also used to carry a third sai in case they needed to use it as a throwing weapon.

    Its function is to puncture, not to cut, using it with quick movements to attack the enemy without giving him time to react.

    ancient japanese weapons names

    It is considered a typical Okinawan weapon, typical of the martial arts fights that were born in this area of ​​Japan.

    Surely it sounds familiar to you of seeing them in the japanese fighting movies based on the 19th century guerrillas that took place before the Second World War.

    Buy Sai

    Sasumata / Sodegarami / Tsukubo

    Known as torimono sandogu, or polearms, this 3-piece set became popular with Japanese warriors of the Edo era.

    Same as him sai, the form was based on tools for tilling the field, adapted in such a way that they became very destructive Japanese weapons against the enemy.

    tsukubo sodegarami sasumata

    The sasumata is a double fork, consisting of a piece of metal with two large skewers strung onto a wooden pole.

    With a shape similar to that of a trident, but with so only two horns, it was used as a spear to skewer and wound the opponent in hand-to-hand fighting.

    The sodegarami is similar to the sasumata, but instead of two horns it has a head composed of several spikes.

    Most of these skewers they look up, but it also has skewers positioned to the contrary, which act like hooks, tearing the meat apart when nailed with a single blow.

    Finally there is the tsukubo, a T-shaped weapon that at the far end it only has a piece of metal with many spikes.

    types of japanese weapons

    Halfway between a spear and the classic maces of western medieval warriors, this weapon many warriors have been swept away, causing serious injuries and amputations.

    Not to be confused with others Japanese mace-shaped weapons like the kanabo, which consists of a kind of wooden bat with the tip covered with sharp spikes.

    Buy weapons


    Another of Okinawa's classic weapons, which are also a classic in the japanese action movies and video games are the tonfa.

    You won't recognize her by this name, but they are some wooden or metal walking sticks that have a handle to be able to hold it with the hands at the same time that it remains attached to the arm.

    japanese wooden tonfa weapons

    Like it's a police baton tonfa covers the outside of the forearm to hit the opponent with it.

    It is more effective when taking advantage of the body's own weight in the blow, at the same time as with the ends also allow other more accurate shots.

    Another way to use it would be making rotating movements, which, thanks to its longer ends, allows you to reach the opponent while maintaining a prudent safety distance.

    Made of resistant materials such as solid wood or lighter metal, it is easy to transport.

    metal tonfa

    Today it is used as a weapon to practise martial arts, as well as defense for the police of many Asian countries.

    Although it seems harmless, tonfa is an excellent self defense weapon, which can be used both on one arm and on both at the same time.

    Buy Tonfa


    Bruce Lee was the representation of the use of this weapon. It may not be familiar to you with the name of nunchaku, but you will recognize it by its characteristic shape.

    Consists in two sticks joined by a rope or chain, to hit the enemy attacking or as defense. Now you do know what we are talking about, right!

    nunchaku forbidden weapon

    Despite the fact that Bruce Lee was Chinese, this weapon is actually of Japanese origin. Specifically it was created in Okinawa, widely used by the armed forces of this area as a personal defense weapon.

    Although they don't kill like a sword or spear, these harmless sticks are capable of knocking down the enemy with just a couple of strokes.

    Its handling requires a lot of training and experienceas they rotate around the warrior's body with extreme force and speed.

    kung fu nunchaku weapons

    exist similar ancient chinese weapons that are called sansetsukon, but instead of having two wooden sticks, it has 3 smaller pieces attached with strong chains.

    In Japan it receives different names depending on the area, such as sosetsukon, nisetsukon, or more colloquial names like lynch ocdid.

    Buy Nunchaku


    Popularly known as 'ninja stars'In Japan these throwing weapons are called shuriken.

    Are actually metal parts with sharp edges like knives, which can have different shapes and sizes according to the needs of each fighter.

    shuriken ninja what does it mean

    These metal stars were thrown at opponents to cause cuts and wounds. It became very popular in the Naruto anime and manga series.

    Its function was not to kill directly, but rather to the sneaky ninja applied poison to their blades, so that his opponents would perish due to his contact with the wounds caused.

    One of the most popular forms in Japan are stars called shaken. These stars are the easiest to handle and the lightest, allowing the ninjas to carry several of these between the folds of their suits without adding too much extra weight.

    real ninja stars buy

    In addition to the stars, the ninja often carried csmall throwing knives, which fall within the same category of shuriken weapons.

    These had the window of being able to be used for other functions, such as the survival in the wild and even for melee defense.

    Buy Shuriken


    Continuing with the weapons of the elusive ninjas, another of the most discreet that will also sound to you from the stories of the manga and anime is the fukiya.

    It is nothing more than a small tube made of a hollow fine reed, inside which a needle was placed to blow and nail it to the enemy from a distance. Like a blowgun.

    japanese blowgun fukiya

    Obviously the needles just like the stars contained poison on their surface, which ended the lives of the enemies without them having time to look for an antidote.

    For these little darts to be effective and hit their target, the ninja had to sneak up to get a few meters away before blowing.

    ✅ Would you like to see ninjas in japan? Discover the best experiences clicking here

    These Japanese weapons were made popular in the 17th century, when ninja warriors began to echo across the country.

    However, it is believed that used as attack weapons long agoAlthough its use was kept secret so that Japanese warriors could catch the enemy by surprise.

    fukiya blowgun from japan

    Today they are no longer used to kill, but there are fukiya competitions in which the participants throw the darts (without poison, of course), from about 10 to 90 meters away.

    In Japanese a national sport, which little by little is spreading throughout Asia and also worldwide.

    Buy Fukiya


    Although it is not a weapon for use in battle, the bokken is worth mentioning as a ancient japan warrior training tool that has been used for centuries.

    It consists of a sword completely made of wood, which offers the same size and weight as a wooden katana so warriors can practice safely.

    bokken weapon martial art

    The bokken today is used for practice of kendo, or Japanese fencing. Also for classical fencing, the kenjutsu, and for stick fencing known as Jodo.

    It is very common to learn to use the bokken in martial arts sports such as Judo, Karate or Aikido. For all of them, the wooden sword format is the same.

    Also known in Japan as BokutoDepending on the length and size of the saber, this wooden weapon allows you to practice while eliminating the risk posed by the cutting edge of a katana.

    Warriors have used it to avoid damaging your weapons in training, thus reserving the cutting edge for his real enemies.

    wooden bokken price

    However, used professionally, the wooden katana is nothing harmless.

    Being of considerable weight, made from a complete piece of solid oak wood, the bumps can KO the enemy, or at least cause not inconsiderable injuries.

    Buy Bokken


    Also known as gunsen or gumabi, the tessen were the war fans they had several functions of great importance on the battlefield.

    How was a harmless fan to attack the enemy? You will be amazed at what samurai warriors could do with this incredible weapon.

    japanese war fan

    The tessen were great folding fans which were used to combat the heat on days of battle.

    At the same time, the commanders on the battlefield gave the orders his men through the movements they made with their fans, decorated with bright colors so that they could be seen from a distance.

    With him he signed up and the green light was given to attack or to retreat when necessary.

    But the most interesting thing about these weapons was their strong metal body, which when the fan closed, served to hit the enemy or to protect yourself from an attack by using it as a shield.

    tessen ninja weapon

    This piece was from great utility in peaceful gatherings in which it was not allowed to carry arms, freeing many lords from certain death at times when they have been unprotected.

    The tessen is still a widely used tool in Japan, specifically in sumo tournaments. Referees give directions through different movements in the same way that commanders used them centuries ago in wars as a means of communication.

    Buy Tessen

    More Japanese weapons

    In addition to all these Japanese weapons, there are many others of the same style that have formed part of japan history long before modern firearms arrived.

    types of japanese weapons alternative japan
    Click on the image to enlarge it 🙂

    Ancient claws, rings, daggers, swords, bows, spears, sickles and axes, which today rest on the country's museums after having staged the bloodiest battles.

    If you want to see how they are testing different Japanese weapons, In this interesting YouTube video you can see it:

    And you, did you know all these japanese weapons?, which is your favorite? We're waiting for your comments and opinions!

    👇 Can you help us keep alive Alternative Japan? Thank you! 👇 Donation to Alternative Japan

    🎌 Do you want the best organized trip to Japan in Spanish? The best value for money and with Spanish guides who live in Japan 🙂
    ✅ Upcoming departures: 2021
    🏯 Fixed itineraries, tailor-made, excursions and much more. Request information prodding here 👌

    Rate this post

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.

    Go up