For many years the question of how to properly display Japanese swords has been an issue. Many people have many theories. It has even been suggested that due to the fact that most “Japanese” style swords manufactured today are not even from Japan but in fact from China, then the display procedure shouldn’t matter. Perhaps this is true but for this article we will be only discussing Nihonto – forged and assembled in Japan.

The Japanese daisho, the Katana and Wakizashi set, should be displayed on the horizontal sword stand with the sharp edge of the blade on top. The sword would then be curving downward. A good rule of thumb is to always display the swords on their stands as they would have be worn traditionally. The only Japanese sword, when resting on the horizontal stand, that would curve upward, would be the Jintachi. The Jintachi was worn hanging from the belt, blade edge downward. The Jindachi can also be displayed on the vertical stand – handle at the bottom, blade pointing upwards, sword curving inward.

Handle (Tsuka) – To the right or to the left?

There is varying opinion on which way the handle should be facing on the horizontal stand. To the right is conducive for drawing the sword right off of the stand. Where if the handle is to the left, one would have to pick up the sword and turn it over before drawing. Some say that a handle facing to the right is a sign of aggression and to the left is a sign of peace. Others say that the handle facing to the right is the sign that the owner is trained in swordsmanship and to the left indicates that he is not and perhaps received the weapon as a gift. As I said, opinions vary on this one.

Ted Hanulak is the Sensei of the Japanese martial art of Senso-Ryu Aikijutsu and meditation out of the Aikijutsu Academy of Indianapolis

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