Japanese Swords Handling, Etiquette, and Display

In every kind of martial art, there are centuries-old customs and norms that students must follow.

Unique in this respect are Japanese aesthetic traditions. Dressing, following customs, bowing while entering the training area, and speaking respectfully to instructors are just a few cultural norms students are expected to adopt. There was always a sense of subtle sophistication about it.

The art of dealing with the Japanese sword, known as a “Katana,” has its customs and protocols. You have probably seen a katana displayed somewhere, like a Japanese restaurant or a festival. So, let’s review the key points.

Elemental Etiquette Surrounding Japanese swords.

How to Withdraw a Katana Sword

Hold the saya (sword sheath) with your left hand close to the scabbard mouth, then use your right hand to grasp the handle. Carefully unsheath your Katana with the blade horizontal, the tip far away, and the blade is facing upward.

When the Katana is stored with the blade facing up, the scabbard only touches the ridge of the blade when it is removed, effectively protecting the blade’s polished surface and edge.

Do not pause in the middle; doing so could harm your Katana. A modest downward tilt of the scabbard’s distal end precedes the complete withdrawal of the blade body from its sheath.

How to Hand Your Katana Sword to Other People

Holding the Katana horizontally with the handle in one hand and the end of the scabbard in the other, with the blade edge pointing toward yourself, is the proper way to pass the sword to another person if it is sheathed.

Once the recipient confirms that he has taken the Katana in its entirety by holding the sword handle in one hand and the scabbard in the other, you may hand over the blade.

Only grasp the blade edge of a katana if it is sheathed; keep the tip up and hold the sword near the habaki. You may relax your grip when the recipient confirms he is securely holding the sword by touching the handle.

Always Use the Sharp Side Facing Up

Whether a Katana is hanging on a wall or worn by an Iaido ka, the blade should always be displayed with the cutting edge pointing upward. 

Never give up! A sword’s edge can be sharpened to the point of death, but if you let it “ride on the edge” with the point down, the blade will become dull.

Various Directional Displays for Katana

The direction of the handle, or “tsuka,” is essential when displaying a sword on a shelf or display stand, and positioning the blade to point to the left represents a state of nonviolence.

Samurai were taught to only use their right hand for various tasks, including drawing, for practical and superstitious reasons.

When the handle, or Tsuka, is held to the right, it is a sign of readiness. Swords in a public place, such as a restaurant, should be hung so that the blade edge faces up and the hilt is to the left.

How you show off your sword collection at home may depend on how relaxed you feel around visitors or how primed you want to be for battle.

Because all samurai were taught to be right-handed, displaying their swords on the right side of their bodies indicates that they are prepared to draw and turn in cuts with a single move.

A lot of the same rituals are performed when a sword is worn. When carried in the summarize belt, or “Obi,” the blade’s edge always points upwards.

The left side of the body is where the sword hangs. This allows the right hand to extend and complete the draw across the body in a single motion, while the left hand can retract the Saya, or scabbard, to avoid the way.

Most people need to be aware of the following sword etiquette facts. Many of Japan’s ancient customs remain vital to modern life.

Guidelines for Proper Katana Display

Your katana will probably spend most of its time on display, regardless of how often you use it for martial arts. 

A great katana takes center stage, sure to start a debate with anyone who lays eyes on it. There are, however, some things you need to know about the presentation of Katana.


There is a wide variety of stands and cases available for displaying Katana. Nonetheless, katanakake is by far the most common.

The most detailed description of a katanakake is a wooden frame with two hooks for hanging a sword or two. The samurai of feudal Japan used a similar hanger before entering buildings; however, the design was slightly different.

Upward-Facing Cutting Edge

A katana, a Japanese sword, is traditionally displayed in the same scabbard-like hilt as it is worn. The Katana’s blade should always be shown upright, just as it is when worn.

It is a common misconception that displaying the blade will protect it from harm. However, this is only sometimes the case. The Katana is shown with its edge facing up as a sign of “respect” for the weapon.

This is how Katana were traditionally displayed in feudal Japan. Therefore it has a long history—since then, revealing one’s Katana has been a standard practice amongst those who train in martial arts and those who collect such blades.

Is the Tsuka Handled on The Left or Right?

Displaying a katana with the tsuka on the left or right makes no functional difference. The tsuka on both sides of the samurai sword will not damage the blade or any other parts, so feel free to show it off.

However, according to traditional Japanese customs, a samurai’s sword with a mound on the left denotes peace. In contrast, a sword with the mound on the right symbolises war readiness and fighting ability.

If you want to put your Katana on display in your home, either approach is OK. In the dojo, though, you should consult your sensei for guidance.

It is necessary to care and maintain your Katana regularly, no matter how you display it. Rust can develop on the blade if it is exposed to elements such as dust, debris, and moisture over an extended period. Protect your Katana from rust and corrosion by keeping it clean and well-oiled.

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