Fittings (Toso/Tosogu)

Under construction and translation

Tōsō and Tōsōgu

About Tōsō and Tōsōgu

The exterior for carrying a sword is called Tōsō. And its parts are called Tōsōgu. These are a culmination of advanced techniques of sword artisans in each field.


Koshirae is a form of Tōsō. There are Tachi koshirae and Uchigatana koshirae, but there is a difference in how to wear around waist belt, and even the same part of the Tōsō, the names are conveniently differentiated by period and type.

Tachi Koshirae

① Kazaari tachi koshirae

② Sayajiri (Ishitsuki) ③ Nanatsukane ④ Obitori ⑤ Yamagatagane ⑥ Karatsuba ⑦ Fuchikanamono ⑧ Tsuka (Shirasame) ⑨ Kabutogane ⑩ Temekio ⑪ Tawarabyō ⑫Menuki ⑬ Kuchikanamono ⑭ Nagakazari

⑮ Hyōgokusari tachi

⑯ Semegane ⑰ Fukurin ⑱ Yaguragane ⑲ Hyōgokusari ⑳Tsuba ㉑ Tawarabyō ㉒ Tsuka (Shirasame) ㉓ Kabutogane (Tsukagashira) ㉔ Menuki ㉕ Fuchikanamono ㉖Kuchikanamono ㉗ Harubi ㉘ Sayajri (Ishitsuki)

㉙ Itomaki tachi koshirae

㉚ Saya ㉛ Ninoashi ㉜ Obitori ㉝ Ichinoashi ㉞ Tsuka ㉟Kabutogane (Tsukagashira) ㊱ Sarute ㊲ Tsukamaki ㊳Menuki ㊴ Tsuba ㊵ Sayakuchi (Kuchikanamono) ㊶Harubigane ㊷ Watarimaki ㊸ Kōragane ㊹Semegane ㊺Sayajiri (Ishitsuki)

Uchigatana koshirae


There are two types of Tsuba: One for Tachi, and other one for Uchigatana and Yōtō. The upper and lower positions of the Nakagohitsu (center hole of Tsuba to put a sword) are reversed in both cases. Many Tachi tsuba were made before the Muromachi period, when Tachi koshirae were often used. There are leather Tsuba with thickly laminated layers of Nerikawa (treated leather which remains solid and light in weight) and Fukurin (rim cover of a tsuba), others are made of gilt-bronze or iron plate, large and thinly built or with thick Fukurin, or with Ōseppa (large washers). Depending on the shape, material, type, etc., there are Neri Tsuba, Aoi Tsuba, Mokkō Tsuba, and Kurumasukashi Tsuba.

Since the Momoyama Period, they were mainly Uchigatana tsuba, and Tachi tsuba was limited to ceremonial usage such as Itomaki tachigoshirae (with top of saya wrapped with thread). Uchigatana tsuba was made with various artistries depending on the region, school, creator, etc. Especially since the mid-Edo period, numerous metal Tsuba and props were made using various colored metals and metal engraving techniques, and many master craftsmen were produced.


The handle part of sword. Since the early modern period, exclusively the magnolia obovata has been wrapped with white shagreen and wrapped with a wrapping technique called Hishi-itomaki. In past times, Yuzu and hardwood were used, and in ancient times, rhinoceros horn, rosewood, aloes wood, black persimmon, zelkova, bishopwood, and shagreen, etc. were used. Kuge tachi and Gijō tachi were not wrapped with Hishimaki technique, and Nameshigawa maki (tanned leather wrapping).

Itomaki (thread wrapping) were for samurai warrior class. Since the Sengoku period, the shark skin wrapped with Itomaki pattern has become a common custom. Sharkskin was often coated with black lacquer to withstand the rain and dew, and in addition to Nameshigawa and Hiragumi ito (flat braided thread), baleen and hemp thread wraps were also used.


When wearing a sword, it is put in a Saya (scabbard), but in the old periods, there were some scabbards made of cowhide or bamboo, and later, more and more were made of magnolia obovat, and structured thinly.

After that, they got to be made thicker, and with leather wrapped scabbards and lacquered scabbards were often used. For the highly decorative Tachi koshirae of the Middle Ages, gilt bronze or silver etc. were used, and there were also Nishiki tsutsumi scabbards (wrapped with brocade cloth), Hirumaki scabbards (decorated with spiral bands of metals such as silver-plated copper, etc.), and Tōmaki scabbards (wrapped with calameae) and so on. As the material of the scabbard, leather wooden scabbards were used for ceremonial events, also Ikakeji, Raden, or Makie (all three are the technique of lacquerwork) were also used.

鶴足皮包葵紋散鞘殿中鐺打刀拵 (Tsuru ashi kawa tsutsumi aoi mon chirashi saya denchū kojiri uchigatana koshirae)

Lacquered scabbards were used exclusively for Uchigatana, Wakizashi, and Tantō in the modern era, but there were Black Roiro lacquered scabbards as Daisyō (a pair of the large and small ones) of the formal Samurai style. Additionally, engraved scabbards were used to prevent the slipping of the scabbards. Since the middle of the Edo period, engraving of metal fitting of Tōshō has become popular. Due to the influence of the townspeople’s culture, various types of Kawarinuri scabbards were developed in order to change the coating of Saya.

There were Togidashisame nuri, Kairagizame nuri, Aomijingai nuri, Isokusa nuri, Botanmon nuri, Mushikui nuri, Shuroke nuri, Take nuri, Ishime nuri, Rankaku nuri, etc., and Makie nuri was often used at the end of the Edo period.

The above scabbards were made using advanced lacquer painting techniques, and were highly artistic. The most common way in order to carefully store these Koshirae scabbards and to preserve the swords kept unused for long periods of time, is storing sword in a Shirasaya.


Shirasaya (plain wood storage scabbard) has a name Shiraki no saya (bare wood scabbard), and is also called Yasume Saya or Abura Saya. It is important for a correct fitting saya as a scabbard out of alignment or the blade touches the scabbard, it will causes rust on the blade. The inside of the scabbard can also be damaged causing splinters which can scratch the blade. It’s also difficult to do Warizaya (splitting the scabbard) in order to remove the rust from the inside if it’s a lacquered scabbard or attached with any Tōsōgu, and the blade can be damaged. For this reason, separately a Shirasaya was developed for easier Warizaya and cleaning of the inside of the scabbard.

This was used in the early modern period, and in the early days, only Saya was replaced with another Shirasaya together with Tsuka of Koshirae and stored, but after modern times, it has started to be put in Shirasaya together with Tsuka and Saya. Shirasaya is made exclusively of magnolia obovata. Magnolia obovata is low in oil, and its wood quality is relatively uniform, soft and easy to process. The heart wood of the big tree is said to be the best.


Habaki is the meaning of the waistcoat for the blade, and is also called Sayabashiridome or 腰巾金. It is located between the blade and Nakago (tang), and when combined with the Koi-kuchi part of Saya, the blade floats inside Saya and serves to support the blade from hitting the wood part of Saya.

There are Tachi habaki and Katana habaki. Some very old Tachi habaki are inserted from Kissaki and fixed at Tsuba, however, later, they have been all fitted from Nakakojiri and stopped there. Originally, it was made of iron by blacksmiths, and later on, copper, silver, gold, etc. were used.

Tetsu (iron) habaki is the original one and is highly valued as Tomohabaki. Tachi habaki does not have a Nomikuchi (ridge) of Mune (spine), and Katana habaki does have a Nomikuchi and there are single and double habaki. Kotō (old swords) often have double Habaki, and Shintō (new swords) single Habaki. In the Edo period, there are usually many copper-made Habaki without patterns, and silver and gold Habaki were used for Daimyo family swords and famous swords.

Since the modern era, exclusively gold Habaki has increasingly been used due to its gorgeous color and appeal. Since colored gold other than iron is used, Habaki was mainly made by artisans called Shiroganeshi. There are with gold layered Kinkise habaki and with silver layered Ginkise habaki, Mon habaki carved with family crests and patterns, as well as the ones with various types of processing such as Yūjō yasuri or Higaki yasuri, etc.

About materials and techniques of Tōshōgu

Various metal materials are used for sword fittings, depending on the social class of their user. Gold, silver and gilded metals are often used for ceremonial swords and swords for high ranking samurai families. Most of the samurai swords are made of iron and copper, and they are also lacquered for aesthetics and rust prevention.

Early modern Uchigatana and Wakizashi are often decorated with metal engraving techniques. In addition to iron, copper is made from Yamagane (unrefined copper) and Nigurome (copper alloy), and is further gilded. Often used is Yakigane (high-purity gold), Aokin (gold with silver alloyed) and Kobankin, and silverwork is also called the Nanryō.

Also alloy materials are used in the Edo period, such as Shakudō (red copper), Udō (copper and gold alloy), Shibuichi (silver and copper alloy), Rōgin (copper and silver alloy), and Shinchū (brass = alloy of copper and zinc), and so on. Shakudō is a metal material that has been used exclusively by the Goto family for props since the Muromachi period. The Nanakoji patterned plate carved the patterns on with Takanikubori technique, and a technique for representing gold and others in colored pictures is the features of their family carving.

Techniques vary depending on the shape of the Tsuba, props, etc., but there are several types of molding, including forging and Uchidashi carving. And as decoration techniques, there are Sukashibori, Keribori, Katakiribori, Nanakouchi, Takanikubori, Shishiaibori, Sukibori, Zōgan, Nunomezōgan, Hirazōgan, and so on.

Techniques for applying gold color include Kinkeshi mekki, Utsutori, Fukurokise, Kinkise, Kinzōgan, Kin nunomezōgan, Fukumikin, and they are called Kiniroe (gold-colored painting).

In addition to the Tsuba, the metal fittings used for Tōsōgu since the modern era include Fuchi, Kashira, Menuki, Kozuka, Kōgai, Habaki, Seppa, Kuchigane, Kurikata, Seme, Kojiri, etc. The fittings engraved decorations include Tsuba, Fuchi, Kashira, Menuki, Kozuka, and Kōgai, etc. Kozuka, Kōgai, and Menuki are called Mikoromono, and two types of metal fittings are called Futatokoromono and it was customary to separate them from the Tōsō koshirae in order to appreciate them. As a result, metal-carving techniques were developed as an art form and became one of the features of Edo art. Since the middle of the Edo period, many of these goldsmiths were produced, and each of them competed for the skills to make masterpieces, and holding appraisals had begun.

Appraisals and the Gotō family

During the Muromachi period, the paintings of the Tang dynasty were appraised by the Dōhō shū (the aides of Shogun and Daimyo, people who engaged in entertainment and civil service) of the shogunate.

The swords were appraised by the Honami family, and during the Keicho period, Honami Kōtoku appraised and Honami Kōshitsu issued Origami.

Appraisal of the fittings started with the works appraisal by the Goto family. The Goto family was descended from Gotō Yūjō, who served under Ashikaga Shogun Yoshimasa, and his descendants continued to lead the family to the end of the Tokugawa shogunate. Yūjō, Sōjō, and Jōshin‘s are Mumei (without sign carved), and it is said that they didn’t carved until the 4th generation Kōjō, but the existing works with Kōjō‘s signs are the ones with Kiwame-mei (Attribution by later generation) of the Goto family. Goto‘s appraisal Origami was issued for the first time since the 5th generation Tokujō. It is noteworthy that Tokujō was the first in the Goto family to make a Tsuba and to start using the ingot Shakudō for the first time. Some of the Mumei objects from the old eras after Yūjō were carved with Kiwame-mei by Kakujō, Teijō Mitsumasa, Enjō Mitsutaka, and Jujō Mitsumasa after the 7th Kenjo, and also the Origami were issued.

Tosogu and Fittings Terminology

Iron Schools – Tsuba 鐔
RomanjiKanjiApplied to
Aizu shoami会津正阿弥tsuba
Akita shoami秋田正阿弥tsuba
Bizen shoami備前正阿弥tsuba
Heianjo Zogan平安城象嵌tsuba
Hikone Bori Soten彦根彫宗典tsuba
Kyo Sukashi京透tsuba
Myochin明珍 明弥tsuba
Myochin Ki明弥 紀tsuba
Onin応仁 (應仁)tsuba
Owari sukashi尾張 透tsuba
Tachi Kanagu-shi太刀金具師tsuba
Tosa Myochin土佐明珍tsuba
Kinko Schools – 金工
Goto 後藤kinko
Hagiya 萩谷kinko
Higo Kinko肥後金工kinko
Shoami- Akita正阿弥秋田kinko
Koshirae – 拵
RomanjiKanjiDescriptionApplied to
 Aikuchi合口sword without tsubakoshirae
 Banzashi-Daisho番差大小pair of swords worn during castle dutykoshirae
 Chiisagatana小さ刀tanto with tsuba and tsukamakikoshirae
 Daisho大小paired swords, usually katana and wakizashikoshirae
 Dashizame出し鮫same-covered sword handle without wrappingkoshirae
 Efu-Tachi衛府太刀used by imperial guards and high ranking officials of the shogunate koshirae
 Fuchikashira縁頭fittings at the tip (kashira) and mouth (fuchi) of the handlekoshirae
Futatokoromonoニ所物2 items, usually kogai and kozukakoshirae
Gangi-makileather strip handle wrap, may be lacquered overkoshirae
 Gyakute逆手reversed grip (menuki)koshirae
 Haichimonji-Tsuka刃一文字柄type of handle shapekoshirae
 Hamidashi喰出しtanto with very small tsubakoshirae
 Hamon刃紋pattern of the temper line of a bladekoshirae
 Han-dachi半太刀literal- half tachi, a katana mounted like a tachi without the hangers, worn edge upkoshirae
 Higo-Koshirae肥後拵koshirae from the higo provincekoshirae
 Hirazukuri平造flat blade – no shinogikoshirae
 Honoki朴ノ木magnolia woodkoshirae
 Horimono彫物carvings on the blade of the swordkoshirae
 Hoso-Tachi細太刀literal – narrow tachikoshirae
 Hyogo-Kusari-Tachi兵庫鎖太刀tachi with chain-hangerskoshirae
 Imogata-Tsuka芋形柄handle shapekoshirae
 Itomaki no Tachi糸巻太刀tachi with cord wrapping on the tsuka and upper part of the sayakoshirae
 Jin-dachi陣太刀tachi for combatkoshirae
 Kaeri返りhook on the scabbard to prevent it from slipping upwardskoshirae
 Kaeri-zuno返り角kaeri made of hornkoshirae
 Kaiken懐剣tanto for womenkoshirae
 Kakemaki掛巻tsukaito crossed over the kashirakoshirae
 Kanagu金具metal fittings of the koshirae; other terms are → tosogu or → kodogukoshirae
 Kanto韓刀curved sword of korean originkoshirae
 Kashiracap of handlekoshirae
 Katakiriha片切刃chisel-edge bladekoshirae
 Katanalong sword (over 2 shaku) worn edge upkoshirae
 Katate-Uchigatana片手打刀katana for single-handed usekoshirae
 Kawazutsumi-Tachi皮包太刀tachi with a leather coverkoshirae
 Kazari-Tachi飾太刀literal- decorative tachi
 Kenukigata-Tachi毛抜形太刀literal – hair tweezer tachi, cutout in nakago resembles suchkoshirae
 Kinko金工soft / precious metal workkoshirae
 Kodachi小太刀tachi shorter than 2 shakukoshirae
 Kodogu小道具small fittingskoshirae
 Kogaismall knife in a pocket of the sayakoshirae
 Kogai-Hitsu笄櫃slot in the tsuba for the kogaikoshirae
 Kogatana小刀small knife for the kozukakoshirae
 Koiguchi鯉口the opening of the scabbardkoshirae
 Kojirifitting at the tip of the scabbardkoshirae
 Koshigatana腰刀literal – hip sword, tantokoshirae
 Koshiraemountings of the japanese swordkoshirae
 Kozuka小柄the handle of a small knife in a pocket of the sayakoshirae
 Kozuka-Hitsu小柄櫃slot in the tsuba for the kozukakoshirae
 Kurigata栗形“chestnut shape”, stopper on the side of the scabbard through which the sageo goeskoshirae
 Kurourushi-Tachi黒漆太刀black lacquered tachikoshirae
 Meiinscribed signature of the makerkoshirae
 Mekugi目釘fastening pin for the sword handlekoshirae
 Menuki目貫ornamental fittings on the handlekoshirae
 Mitokoromono三所物literal – things of 3 places: Usually menuki, kozuka and kogaikoshirae
 Monouchi物打striking part, upper 1/3 of the bladekoshirae
 Morozori-Tsuka諸反り柄handle shapekoshirae
 Munespine of a bladekoshirae
 Muzori無反りblade without curvaturekoshirae
 Nanako七子fish roe pattern on fittingskoshirae
 Nodachi野太刀literal – field tachi; very long tachi, odachikoshirae
 Nurizaya塗り鞘lacquered scabbardkoshirae
 Obitori帯執the hangers of the tachikoshirae
 odachi大太刀very long tachi → nodachikoshirae
 O-Wakizashi大脇差very long wakizashikoshirae
 Ryugo-Tsuka立鼓柄handle shapekoshirae
 Sageo下緒silk (typically) band that goes through the kurigatakoshirae
 Sakizori先反りcurvature is deepest toward the tip of the bladekoshirae
 Samegawa鮫皮ray skinkoshirae
 Samenuri鮫塗polished same with lacquered intersticeskoshirae
 Sentoku宣徳alloy of copper, lead and zinckoshirae
 Seoi-Nodachi背負野太刀nodachi worn on the backkoshirae
 Seppa切羽spacers / washers for the tsubakoshirae
 Shibuichi四分一silver and copperkoshirae
 Shikomizue仕込杖sword hidden in a walking stickkoshirae
 Shinogi-zukuri鎬造blade with a ridge on both sideskoshirae
 Shirasya白鞘plain wooden storage scabbardkoshirae
 Shiri-zaya尻鞘fur cover for the scabbardkoshirae
 Shobuzukuri菖蒲造“iris leaf shaped” sword bladekoshirae
 Shogun将軍supreme military commanderkoshirae
 Sunnobi-Tanto寸延短刀tanto a little longer than 1 shakukoshirae
 Susudakeすす竹smoked, seasoned bambookoshirae
 Tensho-Koshirae天正拵koshirae of the tensho periodkoshirae
 Tetsuiron / steelkoshirae
 Toppei-Koshirae突兵拵koshirae worn with western cloths and military uniformkoshirae
 Tosogu刀装具sword fittingskoshirae
 Tsubahand guardkoshirae
 Tsukaito柄糸lace used for hilt bindingkoshirae
 Tsukamaki柄巻hilt wrappingkoshirae
 Tsurugidifferent pronounciation for kenkoshirae
 Uchizori-Tsuka内反り柄type of handle shapekoshirae
 Yagyu-Koshirae柳生拵a type of koshirae named after the yagyu familykoshirae
Motif / Theme – 題
Romanji KanjiDescriptionApplied
四君子the four nobles, plum, orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemumMotif
Akigusa秋草autumn grasses.Motif
Akimushi秋虫autumn insectsMotif
Akitsu秋津dragonfly – old wordMotif
Aki no nanakusa秋の七草seven flowers of autumnMotif
Amime網目a netMotif
Asagaomorning gloryMotif
Bambootake (Japanese)Motif
Baichiku梅竹plum and bamboo, Chinese pronunciationMotif
Baika梅花plum blossomMotif
Chashaku茶杓a bamboo tea spoon used in the japanese tea ceremonyMotif
Chasen茶筅tea whisk. used in the tea ceremonyMotif
Chidori千鳥plover birdMotif
Chigai taka no ha違い鷹の羽crossed hawk feathersMotif
Daikon大根a white radishMotif
Ebi海老a prawn (shrimp) or lobsterMotif
Ebôshi烏帽子a nobles court head gearMotif
Enkenshô遠見松distant pinesMotif
Ensan遠山distant mountainsMotif
Fuji富士mount fujiMotif
Fujimaru Mon藤丸紋round wisteria monMotif
Funea boatMotif
Gunma群馬a group of horsesMotif
Haiku俳句Japanese poemMotif
Hagi 萩bush gloverMotif
Hasuha蓮葉lotus leafMotif
Hato波濤waves or a rough seaMotif
Hebia snakeMotif
Hôô鳳凰a pheonixMotif
Inome猪の目a boars eye. this has the appearance of a heartMotif
Ito Maki糸巻きa spool for silkMotif
Jôkaku城郭a castleMotif
Kacho-ga花鳥画bird and flower Motif
Kaizukushi貝尽しa collection of sea shellsMotif
Karigane雁金wild geeseMotif
Kuchinashi山梔子gardinia flowerMotif
Minoa straw rain coatMotif
Mokuren木蓮, 木蘭magnoliaMotif
Myoga茗荷Japanese gingerMotif
Ougifolding fanMotif
Obana尾花another word for autumn grassMotif
Paulowniaa tree native to china, however in Japan for over 1000 years. used for shirasaya and fittings boxes.Motif
Raimon雷文a pattern describing zigzag, usually refers to lightning.Motif
SakuraCherry treeMotif
Shibazakura芝桜cherry grassMotif
Shishi獅子classic Chinese lion, also referred to as a lion dogMotif
Sho-Chiku-Bai松竹梅Pine, Bamboo & Plum, Chinese pronunciation Motif
Sugegasa菅笠a straw hatMotif
Tonbobutterfly – modern wordMotif
Tsukashi 透し鍔cut-out motif positive or negativeMotif
Uguisubush warblerMotif
Waka和歌Japanese poemMotif
YanagiWillow treeMotif
Yatsuhashi八橋a classic theme of 8 bridges under which, iris are growingMotif
 Kin (Kane)gold / softer metalsmetal
 Shakudo赤銅alloy of copper and goldmetal
Shibuichi四分一copper / silver alloymetal
 Suaka素銅vinegar red coppermetal
 Yamagane山金literal – mountain metal, unrefined coppermetal
Zôgan象嵌Inlay. Mostly brass or copper.metal