A katana is a sword

Samurai Sword & Katana - The Same?

One question that comes up over and over again is the difference between a samurai sword and a katana. Are there any differences or are there just different names for the same type of sword? We want to get to the bottom of this question here.


The samurai sword

The term samurai sword is general and basically describes all swords that were carried by the samurai. In addition to the katana as a long sword, this also includes shorter variants such as the wakizashi. We have put together a detailed overview of the different types of Japanese swords and their historical development.

In German usage, however, the term samurai sword has largely established itself as a synonym for the katana.

The katana

The katana is a curved, two-handed long sword that is sharpened on one side.
Katana were worn by the samurai, especially in combination with a wakizashi as a daishō and are thus part of the samurai swords.

Although the katana is, strictly speaking, one of several types of swords used by the samurai, in today's German language it is often used as a synonym for all samurai swords. The word "katana" is the Japanese kun reading of the Kanji word 刀, along with the expressions To and Chi. It denotes a curved sword shape with a one-sided edge. Most sword names are made up of this and an addition, e.g. 太 刀 = Tachi = Ta Chi, which means big sword.

Samurai sword & katana: the bottom line

Although they are not strictly synonymous, the samurai sword and katana are often used as such in today's parlance. However, a katana is a type of samurai sword, but not the only one.

Would you like to learn more about the samurai sword? Then take a look in our category "All about the samurai sword"!