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Ninja sword with squared guard

A ninjatō (忍者刀; lit. ninja sword) is a speculative weapon that a ninja uses, and one of the common symbols correlating to the ninja. Also called ninjaken (忍者剣) or shinobigatana (忍刀).

About

The ninjatou's blade is often depicted with a significantly reduced curvature (like the chokuto) compared to the katana, and there are various opinions over whether if such a design existed. The influence of China brought the straight blade design to Japan and possibly inspired this notion. However, the ninjato was devised as a very convenient tool.

The tsuba (鍔), or guard, was shaped like a square and used like a foot step; the sheath (鞘; saya) could be used to store medicine, powders, and messages, and also used as a snorkel pipe in the water. A technique called "zasaguri no jutsu" (座探りの術; position probe) is used with the ninjato, where the sheath is placed on the end of the sword to double the length and feel where someone or something is in the dark. The end of the scabbard (鐺; sheath tip) is fitted with an acute metal piece so that it can be plowed into the ground. Lastly, the the sword cord (下緒; sageo) is longer than usual to pull or swing the sword, or to entangle a weapon or enemy.

In the Bansenshukai and Shōninki, the term ninjato is not mentioned. Instead, swords used by ninja have been called wakizashi (脇差) and uchigatana (打刀). For deception, shorter swords can be carried in longer scabbards.

In media, the ninjatou is often held with an "icepick grip". As a straight blade, the cutting power is bland compared to most swords, and is best used for piercing.

Futaro Yamada

In Futaro Yamada's books, the familiar "media sword" is present.

「忍刀(忍者刀)」の実在については、実際に製作はされていたが徳川幕府に対する反乱のシンボルとして団結のために持っていたという説、山田風太郎の著作である「忍法帖」シリーズで誇張されて登場したものが定着したという説等、諸説が存在する。[1]

  • Translation: There are several stories about the existence of "Shinobigatana (Ninjato)": They were actually produced, but held as the symbol of rebellion against the Tokugawa bakufu [military government], or it was exaggerated in the Futaro YAMADA's library work, "Ninpocho" series, and its image was established.

In Seishin series

Swords of different designs are utilized, including the "media version". No blade used by the ninja is classified as a "ninja sword". Wearing standard swords, such as a wakizashi (脇差) or tanto, would not arouse suspicion since members outside of the samurai class wore them for defense. A blade length longer than a tanto (短刀; approx 20-30cm) may be considered a kodachi (小太刀; small tachi; 2 shaku or 50-60cm). It can be considered a longer, sharply-pointed combat knife. Also, a short sword is easily hidden within a longer scabbard, and best used indoors and for swift defense.

In the Seishin narrative, the swords play a role in etiquette. When entering a household of a notable family, only a ninja after genpuku can wear one short sword that is issued to them. Longer swords are set next to the owner. The presence of swords signifies the reputation of a ninja, and the lord of house can wear his/her weapons.

Reference/Links

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