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Differences Between Ninja Swords And Samurai Swords


Ninjas and Samurai were arguably the two most iconic societies of ancient Japan. Though there are some similarities, they were vastly different people with different philosophies and fighting. This was reflected in their sword types and the way they used them. Ninjas and Samurai cultures were based in very different religious ideals and, like most Japanese war societies, their weapons represented their beliefs.


The Samurai were the warrior elite of ancient Japan. Samurai society was centered on their ideals of honor and respect. They were driven by loyalty and dignity, sometimes going to great lengths to preserve the honor of the warrior. One example of this is the gruesome suicide ritual, called seppuku, which required the warrior to kill himself if he did not follow the Samurai code or if he was likely to be captured.


Samurai were a greatly respected people in ancient Japan and to hold that title was a tremendous honor. Ninjas, however, were more feared than respected. This is reflected in the fact that samurai swords were more ornate and important to the warrior while Ninja swords were more practically designed. The Samurai believed the soul of the warrior was embodied in the sword and as such it was a highly prized possession. To a Ninja, the sword was a tool, cheaper and easily replaceable. Modern Ninja swords are actually far better crafted than the originals. Ninja swords today are designed with a respect that was not existent in ancient Ninja philosophy.


Ninjas mastered the art of imitation and deception. Their swords were designed to look like Samurai swords. Once removed from the scabbard, however, the differences were clear. For starters, Ninja swords were much shorter than their Samurai look-alikes to allow the Ninja greater ability to maneuver in their awkward environments. Ninjas were known for perching themselves on rafters, clinging to walls, and using their surrounding as a weapon. The longer Samurai blade would not have served the Ninja well in these environments.


Samurai also tended toward a more traditional approach to war. They wore two swords, usually a longer bladed katana and a shorter wakizashi. The sword of a Samurai was elegant and carefully crafted. Samurai warriors attached an intrinsic value to their sword. It was treasured more than all other possessions. The Samurai code, Bushido, even dictated they could not even touch the blade with bare hands. When selecting a new sword, it was considered disrespectful to inquire about potential faults in the integrity of the sword. Another member of the warrior’s company had to ask the forger about the sword on behalf of the warrior beforehand.


Ninja swords were simply crafted tools, designed for utility. Ninja battle methods lent themselves more to martial arts techniques and less to the quality of the sword. Unlike the Samurai, Ninjas would often leave his sword behind if the situation deemed it necessary. Check out our unique selection of authentic Samurai and Ninja swords at Swords Of the East.     


 5 Little Known Facts About Samurai


1. The Samurai Social Class


Many believe the Samurai were an exclusive elite force, much like Secret Service or Navy SEALS. In actuality, they were an entire society. It is estimated that at their highest point of history, Samurai made up nearly 10 percent of the population of Japan. Due to their large numbers and heavy influence in Japan’s history, every living Japanese person today supposedly has some Samurai blood in them. Originally, the term Samurai meant “those who serve in close attendance to nobility.” Eventually, the term was associated with the middle and upper tier warriors of the Bushi class.


2. The Female Samurai  


Samurai is a masculine term, though the Japanese Bushi class did allow women to receive the same military training. These women, known as Onna-Bugeisha, while not technically Samurai warriors, commonly fought alongside the male Bushi warriors. Many once assumed women warriors were a small minority, since few accounts of female Samurai are found in historical texts. Recent research has shown, however, that women participated much more often in battle. 


3. Samurai Fashion Sense


Some have called Samurai the rock stars of ancient times. Their fashion sense reflected this fact and had great influence on the rest of Japanese culture. Even so, except on rare occasions, Samurai did not dress with intent to impress. Every detail of their elaborate clothing served a purpose for their warring lifestyle. Samurai dressed to move quickly and allow freedom of movement. The standard outfit was comprised of wide trousers, called a hakama, and a two-piece vest with drastically pointed shoulders, known as a kimono or hitatare. The outer vest could be quickly removed in the event of a surprise attack and kept the arms free for general battle. The kimono, on the other hand, was a thin vest made of silk for coolness, feel, and appearance.


The biggest distinction of Samurai fashion was the topknot hairstyle. Consequently, the hairstyle was also the most widespread. People of all Japanese social classes wore the topknot for hundreds of years, except Buddhist monks, who shaved their heads. The common combination of the topknot with the shaved forehead may have arisen out of necessity, as the shaved forehead made it easier to wear a helmet.


4. The Height Of A Samurai 


Many assume Samurai were imposingly tall and broad, but their armor and weaponry merely makes them seem that way. Actually, most Samurai were tiny people, usually slimly built and ranging from 5’3” to 5’5” in height. In comparison, European warriors of the same era were on average 6’ to 6’5” tall.


5. The Weapons Of The Samurai  


The Samurai used many different weapons in battle. Originally, they used a straight sword called a chokuto. Later, they switched to using the more efficient curved blade sword. Perhaps the most famous weapon of all time is the katana and certainly the most iconic of Samurai swords. The katana was considered the most important and valuable of a Samurai’s weapons, but it was certainly not the only weapon in their armory. Samurai commonly used longbows, spears, and eventually even guns in warfare. You can find a great selection of authentic Samurai weapons at Swords Of The East.