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Tsurugi/Ken ()
A tsurugi double-edged straight sword from the Kofun period (5th century)
Place of originJapan
Service history
Used bySamurai, Onna-musha
Production history
Produced5th century Kofun period until present.
Blade lengthoverall approx. 100 cm

Blade typeStraight, double-edged
Hilt typeMetal, wood
Scabbard/sheathLacquered wood

A tsurugi () or ken () is a Japanese sword. The word is used in the West to refer to a specific type of Japanese straight, double-edged sword used in antiquity (as opposed to curved, single-edged swords such as the katana).[1] In Japanese the term tsurugi or ken (ja:剣) is used as a term for all sorts of international long, double-edged swords.


The term tsurugi (剣) designates a straight, double-edged, bladed weapon from Japan.[2] The tsurugi were usually forged from the 5th century (Kofun period) to the 9th century (Heian period). It is a sword, which means that this weapon has two edges, one on each side of its blade, unlike the tachi, katana, wakizashi or odachi, which have only one cutting edge, on one of the two sides of the blade. From the 9th century, the development of the curved tachi began, from which the katana emerged. Since the 10th century, tsurugi have been forged not as weapons but to be dedicated to Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.

Nowadays it is mainly associated with very remote historical times, as well as legends and mythology. There are some similarities with some variants of Chinese Jian (called Chugokuken (中国剣) in Japanese).


Main article: Kusanagi

The most famous example is the legendary sword "Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi" which is one of the Three Imperial Regalia of Japan.


The Tsurugi-tachi -剣太刀, a straight sword with only one side of the blade sharpened throughout, was similar to the Tsurugi or Ken . The other (back) side was only worked into a second cutting edge in the front part near the tip.


See also


  1. ^ Tanaka, Fumon (2003). Samurai Fighting Arts: The Spirit and the Practice. Kodansha International. ISBN 9784770028983.
  2. ^ Robinson, B. W. (1961). The arts of the Japanese sword. Faber and Faber. p. 28.