In this section also, to avoid gibberish, the long vowels are not used. I hope this does not cause undue stress, but those who really wish to study can find the printed versions which show the long vowels, if not in my books, in others. This is meant to be a guide to point you in the right direction.

This glossary is copyrighted, and is placed here for individual use. While I do not mind if you print it out for your own convenience, copying and distributing it is against copyright laws. More importantly, it constitutes a breach of trust.

If you cannot read the kanji, this is because you have either not installed or not turned on a kanji program. These are available on the web at no cost, or you can buy them from sources found on the web.

This glossary also contains words which are not used in this particular text, since I have made an effort to use, as much as possible, English rather than Japanese. However, many of the terms found in this glossary do appear in other English publications related to Japanese swords, and I hope that this is of some use to the reader in studying these other sources. Also, not all Japanese terms are included, since many of them are common knowledge among sword collectors, and appear in the most basic books on the subject. Lastly, my intention is to continue to build the glossary as I continue to translate more books, and your input on this will be appreciated.

Last but not least, this glossary is not perfect.

Also, in many cases, specific terms are defined in much greater clarity either by the pictures in the book, or in specific sections, such as the section on basic sword making or the sections devoted to the changes in hamon throughout the shinshinto period.

Now then, frequently, in Japanese sword books, the kana shown after the kanji are not given, and the text looks like Chinese rather than Japanese. That is just the way things are, and we have to accept it. However, I have added the kana here for grammatical "correctness." Now then, these are not the only ways to write these words, and besides using kana, other kanji can be used to represent the same sounds. This is especially common in these days of the word processor, and sometimes the substituted kanji are totally erroneous. This applies to all subjects, and not just sword related material. Incidentally, speaking from a technical standpoint, when the kana are not included, the pronunciation is often supposed to be "Onyomi," or the Chinese pronunciation, but like any other rule, it is a guideline that is frequently not followed, or one that gets you in trouble when it is followed.

Agari: ã‚ª‚è Rise or go up. When referring to the bOshi, it means that the tip of the bOshi is near the kissaki. Also means going up to the Capital City, such as Kyoto, or now, Tokyo, and in some cases, refers to going up to larger regional city.

Ara-nie: rèE or r•¦ Coarse nie.

Asai: ó‚¢ Shallow. Kaeri asai is a shallow return of the bOshi.

Ashi: ‘« Thin lines extending out from or entering the hamon.

Ashi iri: ‘«“ü‚è With ashi. Generally, iri means inserted.

Ashinaga chOji: ‘«’·’šŽq Choji with long ashi.

Atari: “–‚½‚è: A widened spot at the beginning, or sometimes the ending, of a stroke. Often looks like a triangle. Read the section on Gimei for graphic definitions.

Atari: “–‚½‚è: This means that the name of a smith given in kantei nyUsatsu (kantei where the nakago is covered) is "on the mark," or correct.

Are: r‚ê Coarse or rough.

Ayamezukuri: ÒŠ—‘¢‚è Shaped like the leaf of the Japanese Iris. See shobuzukuri.

Ayasugi hada: ˆ»™”§ A wavy grain especially used by Gassan and Satsuma Naminohira smiths.

Bo utsuri: –_ˆÚ‚è Utsuri which is straight. Also called sugu utsuri ’¼ˆÚ‚è .

Bohi: –_”ó Stick shaped groove.

Bonji: žŽš Sanskrit characters with religious significance that are engraved on the blade.

Boshi: –XŽq or çøŽq Usually refers to the hamon pattern above the yokote. The first combination literally means "hat."

Boshi hakkake: –XŽq‘|Š| Swept boshi. The tip has an appearance like that obtained when
painting with a nearly dry or empty brush.

Buke: •‰Æ Samurai, warrior families.

Chakushi: ’„Žq Legal heir. May or may not be a blood relative.

Chikei: ’n‰e A clear grey short thin line along the surface grain appearing to be below the surface. Similar to kinsuji or inazuma.

Choji: ’šŽq Clove-like hamon pattern.

Chokoku: ’¤ Engraving, same as horimono.

Chokokushi: ’¤Žt An engraver. Same as horimonoshi.

Chukan sori: ’†ŠO”½‚è Deepest point in sori is in the middle.

Chumon mei: ’•¶–Á Name of the person who placed an order for a sword to be made.

Chumon-uchi: ’•¶‘Å‚¿ Items made to order.

Chu-suguba: ’†’¼n Medium width suguba.

Chuzori: ’†”½‚è See chUkan sori.

Dabira: ’i•½ A big, wide, sword. Also pronounced Danbira.

Daimei: ‘ã–Á Usually, a mei signed by a pupil or son, with the other person's permission. Not to be confused with a mei that has been signed a mei specialist.

Daisaku: ‘ãì Usually, something made by a pupil in the name of his master, with the master's permission and guidance.

Daitsuke: ‘㕍 Price assigned by Honami Ke in the early Tokugawa period.

Deki: o—ˆ A generic term meaning "done". For example, "America deki no" is made in America. Nioi deki is hamon in which nioi is prominent, or is nioi alone. Deki can also just mean the overall quality of work, or results. "Deki no yoi" can mean good results, or good workmanship, depending on context.

Dohai: “¯”y Contemporary. Seen Gohai and Senpai.

Dokko: Үί See Tokko.

Dokkoken:ҮίΥ Engraving of a ken with a dokko beneath it.

Dot: “_ (Pronounced TEN) The short strokes in the kanji, as opposed to LINES. Not a true "dot" in the English sense of the word.

Dozen: “¯‘R Smiths who are contemporary and similar, such as father and son, teacher and pupil, etc.

Fudo Myoo: •s“®–¾‰¤ Buddhist God of War.

Fuji no hana nie: “¡‚̉O•¦ Nie that is like the flowers of wisteria, which is a poetic way of saying clumped nie, applying a term of beauty to a feature usually considered undesirable.

Fukai: [‚¢ Generally means deep, but can sometimes be interpreted as being wide. For example, nie fukai means than the nie line on the hamon is wide.

Fukame: [‚ß To be made thick, as in nioi or nie. The word FUKAI has been made into a verb form. As another example, TAKAI is high, and TAKAME is to make high.

Fukura: ’¯ Cutting edge near tip. Extends from the YOKOTE line to the KISSAKI.

Fukura kareru: ’¯ŒÍ‚ê‚é The fukura is rather flat, and not fully rounded.

Fukuro: ‘Ü Bag. Sometimes elements of the hamon are bag-shaped, and this is referred to as fukuro.

Fukuro yari: ‘Ü‘„ A yari which has a sleeve-like base, much like the mounting device on a shovel, into which the pole is fitted, rather than a nakago which fits into the pole.

Funbari: “¥‚ñ’£‚è Blade is noticeably wider at the base than at the tip. Another meaning is that the first few inches above the habaki are wider than the rest of the blade.

Fushi: ß Pointed knot-like breaks in suguba. The FUSHI ß in bamboo are the joints between the sections.

Futasujibi: Җܯӗ Two grooves side by side.

Gakumei: Šz–Á Mei enclosed in a frame, usually used to transfer mei from old nakago to the new one when a sword was shortened. This was also used to make gisaku blades, wherein perhaps the original blade was no longer any good, and the mei was removed, or a gimei was made, and the gakumei used to further mislead the unwary.

Gassaku: ‡ì Something made jointly by two or more people.

Gimei: ‹U–¼ False signature.

Gisaku: ‹Uì Item intentionally made as a counterfeit.

Go: † Professional name, pen name, etc. For example, my Go in a poetry chanting group is AFU.

Gohai: Œã”y Junior classman. See Senpai.

-gokoro: S A hint of whatever precedes, for example, notare-gokoro is a hint of notare.

Gomabashi: Œì–€”¢ Grooves which look like a pair of chopsticks.

Gonome: ŒÜ‚Ì–Ú Half round patterns in the hamon, like a row of half discs.

Gonome midare: ŒÜ‚Ì–Ú—‚ê Irregular gonome.

Gonome tsuranaku: ŒÜ‚Ì–Ú˜A‚ç‚È‚­ The opposite of the next term. In other words, the gonome is not continuous, and is broken up in sections.

Gonome tsure: ŒÜ‚Ì–Ú˜A‚ê The gonome is continuous, instead of being broken up in sections.

Goto: ‹“ Katana of around three shaku in length.

Gunome: ŒÜ‚Ì–Ú See Gonome.

Gyaku: ‹t The reverse of anything, or opposition to something. In general terms, the reverse of whatever is normal, but when used in applications to something which is normally vertical, this is pronounced Saka. In the case of choji and ashi, this is read as saka, and means that the choji or ashi are slanted, or in opposition to the tip.

Gyo no kurikara: s‚Ì‹ä—˜‰¾—… A kurikara carved in a style which is between the SHIN ^, or standard, and the So ‘, or arabesque style. The three styles are referred to as shin-gyo-so.

Gyobutsu Tohaku Meito Oshigata: Œä•¨“Œ”Ž–¼“‰ŸŒ` Oshigata of Famous Swords of the Imperial Properties of the Tokyo Museum. Tohaku is an abbreviation for Tokyo Hakubutsukan, or Tokyo Museum.

Ha: ”h A group or clique.

ha: n Hardened edge of the blade, the cutting edge.

Ha agari: nã‚ª‚è Type of nakago end. Slants up (agari) towards the ha.

Ha shizumu: n’¾‚Þ Hamon is indistinct and difficult to see, has sort of a watery appearance.

Habaki moto: Section of the blade for about three inches above the habaki.

Hada arai: ”§r‚¢ Rough grain of the hada.

Hadame: ”§–Ú Grain

Hadatachi: ”§—§‚¿ Grain in the hada stands out, looking like the raised grain in a piece of wood, but it is not actually raised.

Habuchi: n‰ or n’[ Borderline between the ji and the yakiba.

Habuchi hotsure: n‰‚ق‚ê Stray lines between the ji and the yakiba

Habuchi shimari: n‰’÷‚Ü‚è Very fine habuchi.

Hadaka nie: —‡•¦Naked nie," a nie which has a black luster.

Hadamono: ”§•¨ The opposite of mujitetsu, in that there is a pattern in the hada, but even more, such a pattern is ostentatiously outstanding. It is also called YAKUMO GITAE ”ª‰_’b‚¦ or clustered clouds kitae, since hadamono sometimes has a negative connotation. Was used by some smiths in forgeries of SoshU works. (Token Bijutsu, English Publication, Summer 1983)

Hahaba: n• Width of the hamon. See also YAKIHABA.

HairyU: ”‡—³ Crawling dragon.

Hakikake: ‘|‚«Š|‚¯ Swept. See boshi hakkake.

Hakkake: ‘|Š| Swept. See Boshi hakkake.

Hako ha: ” n Box-like hamon.

HaramiryU: ›s—³ Dragon wrapped around a sword with its body away from the sword.

Haki omote: ˜Î•\ The side facing out when the sword is slung ha down, as with a tachi.

Haki ura: ˜Î—  The side facing in when the sword is slung ha down, as with a tachi.

Hakomidare: ” — Irregular boxlike hamon.

Hamune: n“ The edge of the nakago on the ha side, unlikely to have rust re-applied in the event of tampering with the nakago.

Han: ”Ë A feudal clan.

Ha-saki: næ The edge of the blade.

Ha shizumu: n’¾‚Þ Indistinct hamon.

Hatahoko: Šø–µ or ”¦–µ A flag wrapped around a halberd.

Hatetsu: n“S Steel of the ha portion of the blade.

Hidarite sagari: ¶Žè‰º‚ª‚è Yasurime slanting down to the left.

Higaki: žwŠ_ or •OŠ_ Cross hatched pattern throughout the yasurime, representing a rock wall.

Hikari: Λ Light reflections.

Hinohada:Sections in the hada which white can be seen.

Hiraniku: •½“÷ Portion of the blade surface between the shinogi suji and the hamon. "Hira" means flat, but if the hiraniku is flat, instead of being bulged or rounded, it is referred to as "no hiraniku."

Hiraniku ochite: •½“÷—Ž‚¿‚Ä The same as hiraniku sukunai.

Hiraniku Oi: •½“÷‘½‚¢ Hiraniku is curved or full.

Hiraniku sukunai: •½“÷­‚È‚¢ The hiraniku is flat.

Hiroi suguba: L‚¢’¼n Wide suguba. Sometimes the "i" is not written, especially in older books, and is written hirosuguba L’¼n .

Hitatsura: ŠFÄFull temper.

Hon: –{ Book.

Honbamono: –{ê•¨ The "real McCoy." See honmono.

Honmono: –{•¨ A genuine article, the real thing. Also refers to an article that was made where it originated. For example, a Pennslvania rifle made by a man from Pennsylvania, but living in Chicago, cannot be a Honmono. It must be made in Pennsylvania in the traditional manner.

Honzukuri: –{‘¢ Shinogi-zukuri.

Hori do saku: ’¤“¯ì Horimono was made by the same person that made the sword.

Hori do tsukuru: ’¤“¯‘¢ Horimono was made by the same person that made the sword.

Hori mei: ’¤–Á Mei of the person who made the horimono.

Horimonoshi: ’¤‚蕨Žt Carving specialist.

Hososuguba: ×’¼n Narrow suguba. Also hosoi suguba ×‚¢’¼n .

Hotsure: ‚ق‚ê Stray lines along the hamon.

Ichimai boshi: ˆê–‡–XŽqThe whole boshi is tempered.

Ichimon: ˆê–å The common way of writing MON, or school, in Japanese. Since the Japanese language does not have plurals, this could be one or a thousand.

Ikubi:’–Žñ Ikubi kissaki, which is stout, resembling a boar’s neck, with a straight edge.

Inazuma: Literally, lightning. Perhaps best described as short jagged streaks of kinsuji.

Inokubi: See Ikubi above.

Iri: “ü‚è Broadly speaking, means in or insert. Ashi iri means with ashi inserted.

Iriguchi “üŒU is "entrance" as opposed to deguchi oŒU for "exit" used in public and commercial buildings.

Itame: ”Â–Ú Wood grain pattern in the surface steel.

Itame nagareru: ”–ڗ¬‚ê‚é When the entire hada of itame kitae is flowing (nagareru) with a hint of masame, this is called itame nagareru.

Itame tachi: ”–ڗ§‚¿ Distinct itame pattern having a raised look.

Itame tsumi: ”–ڋl‚Ý Tight itame pattern.

Ji: Žš or ’n It can be seen from context whether this refers to the ji ’n of the blade or is the common termŽš used for one or more Chinese characters.

Jiba: ’nn Abbreviated term meaning both the ji ’n and the ha n . Note that the "h" becomes a "b."

Jidai gimei: Žž‘ã‹U–¼ Gimei made about the same time as the genuine article.

Jidai nise: Žž‘ãŠä A counterfeit that was made during the era of the targeted smith.

Jifu: ’n”Á Black speckling resembling utsuri in the ji.

Jinan: ŽŸ’j Second son. The first ji means "next," and the second means "male."

Jitetsu: ’n“S Steel of the ji.

Jizo boshi: ’n‘ –XŽq Boshi pattern resembling the head of Jizo.

Juka: d‰Î Reheated or retempered blade. Kanji are different than those of the next term.

Juka choji: d‰O’šŽq Double choji. The ji for ka, , means flower, and when used alone is pronounced "hana."

Jumonji: \•¶Žš Cross shaped.

Junin mei: Zl–Á Mei which includes the kanji for JUNIN, meaning "resident of."

Juzu ha: ”Žìn Hamon shaped like a monk’s prayer beads. Also, juzuba.

Kaeri-taoreru: •O‚è“|‚ê‚é Fallen kaeri. See Kaeri-yoru.

Kaeri-yoru: •O‚èŠñ‚é Leaning kaeri. The turnback in the bOshi dips towards the ha, making the boshi appear as if it is falling over, like a crumpled tall silk hat.

Kaerunoko choji: Š^Žq’šŽq See kawazunoko.

Kagami-gane: ‹¾‹à Mirror like metal in the hada. See mujitetsu.

Kahyo: 䯥\ A gate to a shrine. When used to describe the sori, it is pronounced TORII, and is, of course, the chU-sori.

Kaisho: ž²‘ Printing style of writing, kanji are easily recognized.

Kaishomei: ž²‘–Á Mei in square style writing, approaching printing in appearance.

Kakinagashi hi: ‘~‚«—¬‚µ”ó Groove which goes past the machi, but do not extend to the nakajiri.

Kakitoshi hi: ‘~‚«’Ê‚µ”ó Groove which extends all the way to the nakagojiri, and is open at the end.

Kakubari gonome: Šp’£‚èŒÜ‚Ì–Ú Squarish gonome. See hako ha.

Kakubari sakagokoro: Šp’£‚è‹tS Squarish, with a slight angularity.

Kakubari: Šp’£ When referring to the saki of a nakago, it means that the sides are not tapered, common in Bizen blades. See also Sakibari, Shippari.

Kakudome: Šp—¯ Square stop on a groove.

Kani botan: ŠI‰²’O Crab peony, which is a flower sometimes found engraved on nakago.

Kani no tsume: ŠI‚Ì’Ü Hamon pattern which resembles a crab claw.

Kantei: ŠÓ’è Studying (kan ŠÓ ) a sword, and making a decision (tei ’è ) as to its provenance.

Kanteika: ŠÓ’è‰Æ One who judges, or does the "kantei" of swords.

Kao: ‰O‰Ÿ A special type of signature, used like a seal, and which often looks like a picture. Commonly used on tsuba and kantei certificates, occasionally appears on swords.

Karakusa: “‚‘ Arabesque. Literally, the Kara “‚ is the kanji for Tang China, and the Kusa ‘ is grass. Frequently written with only the "KUSA," in which case it is pronounced "SO,", as in SO NO RYU‘‚Ì—³, or dragon carved in arabesque.

Kasagi sori: Š}–Ø”½ Same as chU-kan sori or torii sori.

Kasane: d‚Ë Cross section at the outer edge of the mune.

Kasane usui: d‚Ë”–‚¢ Thin kasane.

Kashira: һ The heads of the chOji in chOji ha, or the cap on the tsuka.

Kasudatsu: ””—§‚ A condition of the nie in the hamon. There is hikari (light reflections) in the nie, and it seems to be thin and soiled. Past tense is Kasudatta.

Kata ikari: Œ¨“{ Square shouldered. For example, when the change from the ha to the fukura is abrupt, this is kata ikari. Kata nagare, or slope shouldered, is the opposite of this.

Katai: Œ˜‚¢ Tight or hard.

Katakiriba: •ÐØ‚èn or •ÐØn Blades sharpened on one side only.

Katakiribori: •ÐØ’¤ or •ÐØ‚è’¤‚è Groove engraved with a flat border on just one side of it, as opposed to being in the middle of the ji with a border on both sides.

Katana hi: “”ó Groove that is shaped like a katana.

Katana mei: “–Á Application of the makers name on the side facing you when the sword is held pointing up with the ha to the left.

Kataochi gonome: Œ¨—Ž‚¿ŒÜ‚Ì–Ú Sawtooth shaped hamon. Literally, "drooping shoulder."

Katte agari: ŸŽèã‚ª‚è Yasurime slanting up the right.

Katte sagari: ŸŽè‰º‚ª‚è Yasurime slanting down to the right.

Kawazunoko chOji: Š^Žq’šŽq ChOji which looks like tadpoles. Also called kawazuko or kaerunoko chOji. "Kawazu" and "kaeru" are accepted pronunciations for the kanji for "frog,", and "ko" is "child."

Kebori: –Ñ’¤ Engraving using very fine lines. Ke means hair.

Kei: Œn System or line. Can refer to familial line or guild line.

Keito: Œn“ See Kei.

Keisohei: Œy‘••º Lightly equipped soldiers, light infantry.

KenmakiryU:Œ•Šª—³ Dragon wrapped around a sword. See Kurikara.

Kensaku: 㮍õ A kind of rope originally used for hunting. In Buddhist terminology, the means of capturing and taming evils. See also SakujO.

Kerai: ‰Æ—ˆ Retainer, vassal. Now then, SHIN , which also means retainer, refers to the Chief Retainer or Minister, and I have rendered this kanji as KERAI. This is an error on my part in pronunciation, but not in meaning.

Kijimomo: è³ŒÒ or 賎qŒÒ Pheasant’s thigh shaped nakago.

Kikusui ha: ‹e…n Hamon which has an appearance of flowers floating on a stream. Sometimes requires a bit of imagination to see.

Kinaibori: ‹L“à’¤‚è This refers to the engraving done for Echizen Yasutugu by Kinai ‹L“à. This does not refer to the part of Japan called Kinai ‹E“à.

Kindai: ‹ß‘ã Recent times, as opposed to present day, or GENDAI Œ»‘ã. For the sword study purposes, 1935 is KINDAI, 1965 is GENDAI, when we are making these distinctions. This is a very subjective term. After all, 1935 and 1965 are in the same DAI ‘ã, or era, of ShOwa.

Kinsuji: ‹à‹Ø Whitish golden line in the hamon or yakiba.

Kinzogan: ‹àU‚ª‚ñ Gold inlay. Appraisal mei by the Honma family are in kinzogan.

Kiri aji or kirimi: Ø–¡ Feeling of sharpness.

Kishin mei:

Kitae: ’b‚¦ Structure of the blade itself due to the manner of forging which is evidenced by the jitetsu, such as itame, mokume, and so on.

Kitaehada: ’b‚¦”§ Jihada.

Kiri: Ø‚è In reference to yasurime, horizontal file marks; in reference to the nakagojiri, straight across. Kiri means cut, and things are usually cut straight across, hence the name.

Kiritsuke mei: Ø•t–Á A mei which replaces the mei when the nakago is Osuriage, and in effect, the person who signs as having done the shortening is certifying that it was the original mei.

Ko-: ŒÃ In this translation, denotes early. The kanji means OLD

ko-: ¬ In this translation, denotes small. Note that it begins with the lower case k except when the whole word is capitalized.

ko-ashi: ¬‘« Little ashi.

Ko-Bizen: ŒÃ”õ‘O Early Bizen

Koburi: ¬U‚è A smaller size person, item or characteristic in a grouping.

Kobuse: b•š Construction in which soft steel is covered by hard steel.

Kobushigata: ŒŒ` Fist-like. Refers to a hamon in which the valleys of the chOji are clustered like knuckle bones.

Kodai: ΋ԋ Later generation. Sometimes it seems to be used in the text to denote last generation, since it is referring to a particular person, while at other times later generation seems to be more appropriate.

KOi: Μ⢠Thick. Can also be read ATSUI, but ATSUI can also mean hot, depending on the ji that is used.

Ko-gonome choji: ¬ŒÜ‚Ì–Ú’šŽq Small gonome with chOji.

Ko-jimarishita tanto: ¬i‚܂肵‚½’Z“ Small tantO which is just as functional as a large one.

Ko-gonome midare: ¬ŒÜ‚Ì–Ú— Irregular small gonome.

Kokon Kaji Biko: ŒÃ¡’b–è”õl Registry of kaji, both ancient and modern, published in Bunsei 13 (1830). Kokon means ancient and modern, or roughly, all times.

Kokuji: Žš Kanji carved in the blade.

Kokuji: ‘Žš Kanji which originated in Japan.

Ko-maru agari: ¬nã‚ª‚è The tip of the ko-maru bOshi is near the point of the blade.

Ko-maru sagari: ¬n‰º‚ª‚è The tip of the ko-maru bOshi is well away from point of the blade.

Komeikan: ŒÃ–ÁŠÓAbbreviation for the name of a book on swordsmiths, or possibly, refers to old meikans in general.

Ko-midare: ¬— Literally, small irregularities.

Konuka hada: ¬f”§ Hada with a grainy appearance like rice bran and rice germ produced in milling rice.

Kosaku: ŒÃì Made in the kotO period.

Koshi: ˜ When referring to the blade, the area a few inches above the machi.

Koshi: ˜ When referring to the hamon, the slope between the peaks and valleys.

Koshiba: ˜n Hamon in the area a few inches above the ha machi.

Koshi no hiraita gonome: ˜‚ÌŠJ‚¢‚½ŒÜ‚Ì–Ú Slope between the peaks and valleys of the hamon is long.

Koshizori: ˜”½‚è The highest part of the sori is towards the koshi.

Koto Meijin Taizen: ŒÃ“–Ás‚µ‘å‘S Complete list of KotO Signatures, sometimes abbreviated as Taizen

Kozumi:Claws, a type of horimono.

Kozumu: ¬‚¸‚Þ Not sure, but I think it means smallish.

KudariryU: ‰º‚è—³ Dragon going down the sword. In other words, the head of the dragon is towards the machi.

Kuichigai ha: ‹òˆán Hamon line is broken crisscross lines of nie and nioi nibbled away. The more common ji of KUI H, which also means eat, is sometimes used, since it is acquired more easily when using a word processor.

Kuni: ‘ or š  In sword terminology, province. Also means country, such as Japan, China, U.S., etc.. In the old days in Japan, each Kuni operated to some extent as independent states. Also read as KOKU, as in Sengoku Jidai í‘Žž‘ã, or Warring States Period.

Kurikara: ‹ä—˜‰¾—… Dragon and sword. Also called KenmakiryU Œ•Šª—³ meaning dragon wrapped around a sword.

Kusa kurikara: ‘‹ä—˜‰¾—… Arabesque style of kurihara horimono. See Karakusa. Also read as SO no Kurikara.

Kusamura nie: ‘p•¦ Nie clustered together.

Kuzure: •ö‚ê Breaking up, such as an interrupted yakiba.

Kyogokaji: ‹žŒÜ’b–è Five principle kaji of Kyoto.

Machi: ‹æC™¼CŠÖ or è Division between the nakago and the blade itself, characterized by the stepped sections at the ha and mune. This is almost gone in blades which have been polished a number of times.

Machimune: ŠÖ“ Back edge of the machi, which are unlikely to have rust re-applied in the event of tampering with the nakago. Can be written with any of the above ji for MACHI.

Machi okuri: ŠÖ‘—‚è Machi has been redone and moved up slightly.

Majiri: Œð‚¶‚è Mixed. Choji ni gonome majiri means gonome mixed in chOji.

Marudome: ŠU—¯ Round stop on a groove.

Marumi: ŠU‚Ý A touch of roundness.

Masa: – Used as short for masame.

Masame: ––Ú Straight grain pattern in the steel on the surface of the blade.

Masame nagareru: ––Ú—¬‚ê‚é When the entire hada of masame kitae is flowing (nagareru), this is called masame nagareru.

Matsuba: ¼—t See next term.

Matsu no ha : ¼‚Ì—t Fine, pine needle like elements in the hamon, between the notare. Peculiar to Fujishima works.

Matsukawa hada: ¼”甧 Hada resembling pine bark.

Matsukuizuru: ¼H’ß Crane eating a pine branch.

Meibun: –Á•¶ The inscription in the mei in total, as opposed to just individual kanji.

Meigirishi: –Á‚«‚èŽt People who specialized in inscribing mei.

Meiji: –¾Ž¡ Nengo of Meiji period (1868-1912). Also, the name of the Emperor during that period.

meiji: –ÁŽš Kanji of the mei.

Meikan: –ÁŠÓ Encyclopedia about people, literally, "name list," such as "TOkO Meikan," for list of swordsmiths.

Meito: –¼“ Famous swords.

Midare: — Irregular. This kanji by itself can also mean war, rebellion or other disturbance.

Midare koshiba: Fancy patterns for a few inches above the ha machi.

Midareba: —n Irregular ha.

Midare ha: —n See midareba.

Midarekomi: —ž‚Ý Same as midare.

Mihaba: g• Blade body width.

Mishina boshi: ŽO•i–XŽq BOshi with hakikake and a slight tarumi (slack) in the ha side.

Mochitetsu: –Ý“S High quality pieces of the crushed steel made from the raw iron. Produced in the TOhoku (Northeast) district.

Moji: •¶Žš Writing, also pronounced monji. In the context of swords, this refers to kanji engravings on the blade which are in the ordinary type of script, rather than the BONJI žŽš, which are specific religious characters.

Mokume: –U–Ú Burl wood grain hada.

Mokutachi: –U—§‚¿ Mokume which stands out with a raised look. This is an abbreviated way

of saying "mokume hada tatsu."

Mon: –å A formal school with an actual physical location. The ji MON –å means gate, and you must enter the gate to go in the school.

Mon: –ä Family crest.

Monji: See Moji.

Mono uchi: •¨‘Å‚¿ The section of the blade about six inches below the tip. "Mono" is "thing" and "uchi" is strike, so the mono-uchi is the part of the sword which imparts the blow.

Moroha: ”n Double edged.

Moto: Œ³ Base.

Moto-uchi: Œ³‘Å‚¿ Area of the ha near the base.

Moto choji: Œ³’šŽq ChOji ha at the base.

Motte: ˆÈ‚Á‚Ä, but usually onlyˆÈis inscribed. With, by, of. Motte nanban tetsu saku ˆÈ“ì”Ø“S means "made of nanban tetsu"

Muji-gane: –³’n‹à See mujitetsu.

Mujitetsu: –³’n“S No grain in the ji.

Muku kitae: –³C’b Made of one kind of steel.

MunenagabOri:Not sure of this, but I believe it refers to a style of horimono which was originated by Munenaga.

Mune yaki : “Ä The mune is tempered (yaki).

Munezuru: “–  A very long return on the bOshi, like mune yaki.

Musori: –³”½‚è No sori.

Nado: “™ or ‚È‚Ç And so on, etc., the like, and other vague terms which include any meaning of anything similar to the aforementioned which I may have forgotten. It also means that whatever is under discussion is not necessarily the specifically mentioned item, but could be one similar to that. An essential word for ending any listing of anything in Japanese, which covers the writer in any eventuality of omission or in-exact description.

Nakago: ’†S or Œs Tang of the blade. The second kanji actually means stem, and in ordinary Japanese is pronounced differently. There are various other terms which mean grip, center, handle center, etc., which have their own pronunciations, but some of which, when used in a sword context, are pronounced nakago.

Nakagojiri: ŒsK Tang end. SHIRI K is also the term used for buttocks, and when used within another word, as in this case, the "shi" becomes "ji."

Nagamei: ’·–Á Long mei. There seems to be no clear cut definition as to how long it must be before it becomes a "nagamei.".

Nagare: —¬‚ê Style or line, and was followed by someone who was not necessarily a part of the Mon or Ha under discussion. When the RE ‚ê is not present, it is pronounced RYU.

Naginata hi: “㓁”ó So called because it usually appears on naginata.

Naginata naoshi: “㓁’¼‚µ Sword made by grinding down a naginata. In this case, the bOshi is frequently yakizume.

Nanban: “ì”Ø or “ìåÅ Southern barbarians, the Europeans. So called because they came up from the south (MINAMI or NAN “ì) from China.

Nancho: “ì’© Southern Dynasty during the NanbokuchO Jidai.

Nashiji hada: —œ’n”§ Hada which resembles pear skin in appearance.

Nebai: ”S‚¢ The ordinary translation is sticky or viscous, however, I have been told that it also can mean something that appears brittle, but is instead tough. This is, of course desirable in a sword.
O-: ‘å A prefix meaning large.

O-choji: ‘å’šŽq Large chOji.

Oite: ‰— At. Oite Tokyo ‰—“Œ‹ž means at Tokyo, and would actually be read as "Tokyo ni oite."

O-hada: ԌӤ Hada with large and loose grain structure.

Orikaeshi mei: Ü‚è•O‚µ–Á A mei in which the original nakago is cut and folded back when a blade is shortened in order to save the original mei. Can also be used by clever counterfeiters.

Osoraku zukuri: ‚¨‚»‚ç‚­‘¢ Tanto form in which the yokote is at about the middle of the blade.

O-sujikai: ‘å‹Øˆá‚¢ Yasurime which is at steep angle to the nakago.

O-tawa: ‘傽‚í Large bow or curve line.

Rakugaki: —Ž‘ Writing which is scribbled or carelessly done.

Rendai: ˜@‘ä Lotus pedestal for a horimono.

Rin: —Ð One tenth of a bu. 2 bu 3 rin may sometimes be written as 2.3 bu.

Ryochiribi: —¼ƒ`ƒŠ”ó A groove which is engraved so that an equal amount of flat area is left remaining on both sides in the flat part of the shinogi.

Ryu: —³ or —´ Dragon.

-Ryu: —¬ The same as nagare above, but it is written slightly different in Japanese. For example, Osaka-RyU ‘åâ—¬ , but Osaka no nagare ‘åâ‚Ì—¬‚ê . The former does not have the kana for "no" interposed, and the kana for RE ‚ê does not follow the kanji for NAGA —¬. There is no difference in meaning.

Ryutachi: —±—§‚¿ Grains stand out. RYU —± means grains, as in sand.

Sabishii: Žâ‚µ‚¢ or —Ò‚µ‚¢ See samishii.

Saeru: á‚¦‚é Clear and distinct. This word has strong poetic force, and is best described as "the appearance of the moon on a clear, cold autumn night." It is so clear that it gives you chills. Saeru can also mean "the way something is supposed to look.'' For instance, if a person has been hospitalized for some time, their facial complexion is not "saeru."

Saka ashi: ‹t‘« Slanted ashi.

Saka choji: ‹t’šŽq Slanted chOji.

Sakame: ‹t–Ú Upside down yasurime, in other words, katte agari yasurime, which is the opposite of katte sagari, considered to be the normal direction.

Saki: æ Tip, front, or end, depending on context. For example, it can refer to the point of the blade, the edge of the ha, or, as in the case of the ShintO volume, it is usually used as the term for the nakagojiri.

Sakumei: ì–Á Mei of the smith who made the sword. Basically, the same as mei.

Saki agari: æã‚ª‚è The tip of the bOshi is near the point of the blade. This can also refer to the tip of a hi, or groove, engraved in the blade.

Saki sagari: æ‰º‚ª‚è The tip of the bOshi is well away from point of the blade. This can also refer to the tip of a hi, or groove, engraved in the blade.

Sakibari: æ’£ When referring to the saki of a nakago, it means that the sides are not tapered, common in Bizen blades. See also Kakubari, Shippari.

Sakizori: æ”½‚è The highest part of the sori is towards the saki.

Sakujo: õ“ê A kind of rope originally used for hunting. In Buddhist terminology, the means of capturing and taming evils. See also Kensaku.

Samishii: Žâ‚µ‚¢ or —Ò‚µ‚¢ Sparse additional features showing in the hamon, such as very few chOji in suguba. Means subdued, sad, melancholy, lonely and so on, and is the opposite of exuberant. Also pronounced sabishii.

Samoji: ¶•¶Žš Kanji written in their mirror image. Said to be due to the smith being left handed. It has been suggested to me that perhaps the smith was illiterate, and copied the kanji given to him by the priest from the wrong side of the paper. Who Knows?

Samonji: See Samoji above.

Sanji: ŽOŽš Three kanji

Sankoken:Sanko tsukaken. ŽOŒØŒ• or ŽOŒØ•¿Œ• Engraving of a sword with Bhuddist Vajra handle.

Sashi omote: Žw•\ The side facing out when the sword is worn ha up, as with a katana. A blade with mei on the sashi omote is signed katana mei.

Sashi ura: Žw—  The side facing in when the sword is worn ha up, as with a katana. A blade with mei on the sashi ura is signed tachi mei.

Satetsu: »“S Sand iron, iron made from black sand.

Sen: çòA cutting tool for metal, possibly a drawbar. The marks left by its use are called sensuki yasuri, which are yasurime that are longitudinally parallel to the nakago. Said to take great skill to do properly.

Sengoku Jidai:í‘Žž‘ã Warring States Period in Japanese history. Specifically, 1490-1600.

Senpai: æ”y A term which can mean upperclassman, lead worker, or any other terms in which one person is more experienced or skilled than another, but who is not a sensei. The opposite is GOHAI Œã”y.

Sensuki: çò›Yasurime that is parallel to longitudinal axis of the blade. Said to require great skill.

Shaku: ŽÚ A unit of measure, which is slightly less than 1 foot.

Shimame: ŽÈ–Ú Stripes.

Shimari: ’÷‚Ü‚è or i‚Ü‚è Generally means tight or restricted. Nioi shimari means a narrow nioi line.

Shimi: õ‚Ý The color of the steel fading, usually due to over polishing. It also sometimes appeared in the original ha of some famous smiths in the KotO period.

Shinae: ‚µ‚È‚¦ Cross-wise cracks in a blade.

Shin, Gyo, So ^AsA‘ Basically, this denotes three styles of something. For example, MITSU MUNE ŽOƒc“ is called SHIN NO MUNE ^‚Ì“, IORI MUNE ˆÁ“ is called GYO NO MUNE s‚Ì“, and MARU MUNE ŠU“ is called SO NO MUNE ‘‚Ì“. Also, the three styles of KURIKARA are called SHIN, GYO, and SO.

Shingane: S“S Core steel.

Shingi: ^‹U Real or false? From shinmei ^–Á and gimei ‹U–¼.

Shinmei: ^–Á Genuine mei. Also called ShOshinmei ³^–Á .

Shin no kurikara: ^‹ä—˜‰¾—… Style of carving. Is the most life-like, if you accept the idea of "life-like" dragons.

Shinobi ana: ”E‚эE An extra mekugi ana, place near the tip of the nakago, for added security and tightness of the tsuka. Seen, for example in Marine GuntO.

Shinogi suji: èM‹Ø Shinogi line

Shinogizukuri: èM‘¢ Made with a shinogi, as opposed to a flat, or hirazukuri blade.

Shioai: ‰–‘Š General term for nie and nioi. I have only seen this term in extracts from old books. There are cases when there is no nie in jOsaku and better, but when the nie appears, it seems to be blanketed in nioi.

Shippari: K’£ When referring to the saki of a nakago, it means that the sides are not tapered, common in Bizen blades. See also Kakubari, Sakibari.

Shirake utsuri: ”’‚¯ˆÚ‚è Utsuri which has faint whitish or cloudy appearance.

Shirazomi: Whitishness. I am not exactly sure as to where this appears.

Shodai: ‰‘ã First generation

Soebi: “Y”ó Additional hi alongside main hi which is smaller that the main hi.

Soemei: “Y–Á Additional mei or inscription. As you might guess, Soe “Y means additional.

So no Kurikara: ‘‹ä—˜‰Þ—… Dragon wrapped around a sword, carved in Arabesque.

Shobuzukuri: ÒŠ—‘¢ Blade construction in which the blade resembles the iris leaf in shape.

Soshomei: ‘‘–Á Mei in grass writing. Very difficult to read without special studies.

Sotoba gata: ‘²“ƒ”kŒ` A nakago shape which resembles the sotoba, or grave marker, in outline.

Sudareba: —ún Rattan blind shaped lines along the hamon.

Sugata: Žp Form, body. Implies more than just shape, so as to include overall appearance.

Sugu: ’¼ In this book, this is used as short for suguba. Sugu is also another reading for the kanji for straight.

Suguba: ’¼n Straight hamon.

Sugu choji: ’¼’šŽq Suguba with chOji.

Suguba fushi hamon: ’¼nßn•¶ Jointed suguba. In the case of suguba, when the joints in the hamon are pointed towards the ji, the quality is not too good. See FUSHI.

Sugu ha: See suguba.

Sugu hotsure: ’¼‚ق‚ê Suguba with strays.

Sugu ko-midare: Suguba with ko-midare.

Sugu nijUba: ’¼“ñdn Double suguba.

Sugu yakidashi: ’¼Äo Suguba for the first inch or so up from the hamachi.

Sujichigai: See sujigai below.

Sujigai: ‹Øˆá‚¢ Yasurime which is at angle to the nakago. Literally, "different lines."

Sumi: Ÿ Small black splotches.

Sun: ¡ A unit of measure, which is about 1.2 inches. 10 sun equals 1 shaku, which is about 1 foot.

Sunagashi: »—¬‚µ Literally, flowing sand. A pattern in the hamon. More properly pronounced sunanagashi.

Sun-nobi: ¡‰„‚Ñ Longer than average. Stretch limousines are sun-nobi.

Sun-zumari: ¡‹l‚Ü‚è Slightly shorter than average.

Suriage mei: –ã–Á or ’ã–Á Signature of the smith who shortened the sword.

Tabagatana: ‘©“ Mass produced swords. TABA or SOKU ‘© means bundle.

tachi: —§‚¿ When referring to hada, this means that whatever pattern there is in the hada stands out clearly. A literal meaning is "stand up." Can also form the word "dachi" when joined with a preceding word.

Tachi: ‘¾“ Long swords which were slung at the waist with the edge down.

Tagane: èS Punch or chisel. This can also refer to the marks made by the punch or chisel, and this is usually clear from the context.

Tagane kizami: èS‚Ý Mark made with a chisel or punch.

Tagane makura: èS– The metal which is raised around a punch mark.

Takai: ‚‚¢ High

Takanoha: ‘é‚̉H Hawk's feather, or the yasurime pattern resembling hawk’s feathers.

Takenokozori: â¡”½‚è Small sori at the tip which resembles a bamboo shoot, or takenoko, in shape.

Tama: ‹Ê Circular patterns in the hamon that are free from the main part. Looks like YO that are not connected.

Tamagaki ha: ‹ÊŠ_n Ha which resembles the pattern of a stone wall.

Tamayaki: ‹…Ä‚« Cannot find a definition, but I would assume it is round TOBIYAKI ”òÄ.

Tameshimei: ŽŽ–Á Cutting test mei.

Tani: ’J See valley.

Tansotetsu: ’Y‘f“S Carbon steel.

Tatsu: —§‚ To stand up or to stand out. This is the verb form of "tachi." Mokume tatsu means the mokume appears to be raised up.

Tekuse: Žè•È The manner of using the hands, as is evidenced by the inscription style, yasurime nado.

Tobiyaki: ”òÄ or ”ò‚яĂ« Islands of temper pattern in the ji, also called yo, or leaves.

Togari: ë‚è Pointed. Also refers to the shape of the bOshi.

Togari-gokoro: ë‚èS A hint of togari.

Togari ha: ë‚èn Sharp pointed patterns in the ha.

Togari ha-gokoro: ë‚ènS Hint of togari ha.

Tokensho: “Œ•‘ Books on Japanese Swords

Tokko: Үί A type of sword from India used as Horimono.

Tosho: “  Master swordsmith.

Tsukurikomi: ‘¢ž‚Ý Generally speaking, the overall construction of the swords in regard to shape, as opposed to the type of ji, hada, and such.

Tsume: ’Ü Claw.

Tsure: ˜A‚ê Connected or cotinuous. Usually used in reference to GONOME, in which the pattern is continuous, rather than interrupted by, for instance, patches of suguba.

Tsuno yakiba: ŠpÄ‚«n The kashira of the yakiba look like steer horns. Peculiar to Fujishima.

Tsuru: ’ß Crane

Uruoi: ‚¢ Watery looking.

Uchigatana: ‘Å“ Two handed fighting sword.

Uchi no ke: ‘Å‚Ì‚¯ Small moon shaped patterns of nie in the hamon.

Uchitagane: ‘ÅèS See atari tagane above.

Ura mei: — –Á Mei on the ura of the nakago. As a generic term, this seems to usually refer to a nenki.

Ura nenki: — ”N‹I Date inscription on the ura, or back, of the nakago.

Urumi-gokoro: ‚ݐS Watery looking hamon. Misty. See also HA SHIZUMU.

Utsuri: ˆÚ‚è "Reflections" in the ji. These may or may not be the same as the hamon. They get their names from their resemblance to a hamon pattern, such as midare utsuri —ˆÚ‚è. However, a straight utsuri is referred to as bo utsuri –_ˆÚ‚è.

Uzumaki: ‰QŠª‚« Swirl, like the patterns in burl wood.

Valley: When referring to the chOji of a hamon, this is just the opposite of what you might think. It refers to the section which is nearest to the edge of the blade, and not the section towards the ji.

Yahazu: – Hamon pattern resembling arrow notches.

Yakaji: –ì’b–è Not sure, but I think it is just a country blacksmith.

Yakemi: Ä‚¯g Burned sword. "Yake" is burn, "mi" is body.

Yakiba shizumi: Ä‚«n’¾‚Þ See ha shizumu.

Yakidashi: Ä‚«o‚µ Portion of hamon two or three inches above the base.

Yakigashira: Ä‚«“ª Heads on the hamon pattern on the ji side of the hamon.

Yakihaba: Ä‚«• Width of the tempered portion. See also HAHABA n•.

Yakikomi: Ä‚«ž‚Ý The hamon of the yakidashi goes in toward the shinogi.

Yaki kuzure: Ä•ö The hamon is not even and there are breaks in it, such as the hamon running out to the edge of the blade, or picture what a chOji ha would look like if the blade was polished away too much. Kuzure means crumbled.

Yaki otoshi: Ä‚«—Ž‚Æ‚µ Hamon runs out into the ha saki an inch or so before the ha machi. Otoshi means "to drop,", thus the yakiba is "dropped."

Yakemi: Ä‚¯g Literally, burned body. This refers to a sword that has been in a fire. If this is retempered, it is called Saiba.

Yakisageru: Ä‚«‰º‚°‚é The tip of the bOshi is way down from the kissaki. This can also mean that the return on the bOshi goes way down the mune. Pictures help a lot in this case.

Yakisomi: Ä‚«õ‚Ý I cannot find a definition for this, or even be sure this is the proper pronunciation. However, "yaki" is burn, and "somi" can mean to dye or discolor, and this may refer to either heat discoloration or loss of the hamon in a section due to excessive heat.

Yakumo-gitae: ”ª‰_’b‚¦ See hadamono

Yanone: –î‚̍ª Arrowhead. Incidentally, "NE" means root, and I guess the head becomes the root if it is buried in someone.

Yasuri: èk File. Also, this is commonly used as an abbreviation for YASURIME èk–Ú, which is obvious from the context of the sentence in which it is used.

Yasurime: èk–Ú File marks

Yakiba: Ä‚«n Tempered surface along the edge. The hamon is the line between this and the ji.

Yakizume: Ä‹l BOshi line with no turnback. This is characteristic of a naginata which has been reshaped into a katana, but does not necessarily mean that this was done.

Yo: —t Small patterns in the hamon which look like leaves.

Yodomi: —„‚Ý Stagnation. In the case of swords, this refers to a step formed by the meeting of the two holes drilled from both sides to make the mekugi ana.

Yokote: ‰¡Žè Line separating the point from the rest of the blade.

Yotetsu: —m“S Western steel.

Yowai: Žã‚¢ Weak. Also, 5 sun yowai means a little less than 5 sun.

Yubashiri: “’‘–‚è Concentrated nie in sections of the ji.

Zaimei: Ý–Á Has a mei, the opposite of mumei.

Zanguri:‚´‚ñ‚®‚èCoarse pear skin-like hada.

Zokumei:‘­–¼ A name of the smith in addition to his regularly used name, for example, HIKOBEINOJO SUKESADA.

-zukuri:‘¢‚è This is the spelling taken on by ‘tsukuri’ and denotes that the object being discussed was made in the manner of the preceding word, such as hirazukuri •½‘¢ made flat.

-zumi: Ï‚Ý Piled up or packed tightly. "Tsumi" becomes "zumi" when joined with a preceding word.


There are special terms for certain dates, such as GANNEN Œ³”N for the first year of an era, Shogatsu ³ŒŽ for the first month of the year, andTSUITACHI ˆê“ú or ñ“ú the first day of the month. However, when these pronunciations are intended, they are written with special characters. However, people may use the special pronunciation even if these special characters are not used. The Japanese language uses two sets of pronunciations for numbers, Chinese and Japanese. Generally speaking, the Chinese pronunciation is used in compounds, as when the number is followed by a counter. Some exceptions are that the Japanese is used for 1 and 2, and often for 4 to avoid the word ‘shi’, which is a homonym for death. For example, one person is hitori, two is futari (Japanese), and three is sannin (Chinese), while four is yonin (Japanese). Also, for some reason shigatsu is used for the fourth month, but the Chinese pronunciation is not used for days, even being avoided on the 14th and 24th, years, and even for four months, which is yonkagetsu.


10 \AE JUU TO or TOU


Tsuitachi First

Ichijitsu First

Futsuka Second

Mikka Third

Yokka Fourth

Itsuka Fifth

Muika Sixth

Nanoka Seventh

Yoka Eighth

Kokonoka Ninth

Toka tenth

Juyokka Fourteenth

Hatsuka Twentieth

Nijuyokka 24th


Months are counted with the Chinese pronunciation, that is, ichigatsu, nigatsu, sangatsu, for first month, second month, third month. Since these are months in the lunar calendar, they should not be interpreted as January, February and March until the Meiji era, which starts in 1867.

Years are counted in the same way as months. The first year of an era is called Gannen.


The zodiac terms for the years are sometimes included in the nengo, and these positively identify the years, and these are recognizable as a hyphenated word, the first of which ends in either ‘e’ or ‘to’. The zodiac is an ingenuous method of combining ten variables and twelve variables and getting only sixty combinations. For a very lucid explanation of the zodiac calendar and other very valuable information concerning art signatures, see "Japanese Art Signatures", by James Self and Nobuko Hirose, published by the Tuttle Publishing Co. You should be able to obtain it through any local book store, and the cost is only about $35.00, which is nominal for the amount of information contained.

Also, any of the basic English books on swords provides a complete listing of the dating terms.


The Chinese pronunciation or ONYOMI ‰¹“Ç‚Ý for a number is used before the word DAI to designate a generation, except that SHO, meaning beginning, is used for the first generation. For example, NIDAI for second generation, SANDAI for third, YONDAI (never that other word, shi, a homonym for death) for the fourth, and so on. Now sometimes a term may come up such as SANDAIME ŽO‘ã–Ú, and means third generation from a point at which you started counting, which is usually the first, and basically translates to the same thing as SANDAI, i.e., third generation. To put it another way, SANDAI can mean either three generations or the third generation, but SANDAIME can only mean the third generation from a given starting point.


The Japanese method of counting objects is the same as the Chinese, in that special terms, or counters, are added to the ONYOMI (ichi, ni, san, etc.) to make a word. The counter is often descriptive of the items being counted, such as MAKI, meaning roll up, for scrolls. The "CHI" in ICHI and HACHI (1 _ 8) frequently appears as a doubling of the consonant. For example, ICHI and HON for one pencil would be IPPON. Also, ROKU ˜Z and HYAKU •S (6 _ 100) becomes ROPPYAKU ˜Z•S. An interesting sidelight to this is that while there is no separate plural form in Japanese, there is a distinction between one and two, or more than two. For instance, HITORI, HUTARI for one and two people, using the Japanese pronunciation, but SANNIN, GONIN, for three, five, and so on, using the Chinese pronunciation. Variations do appear, often in poetry, and I have seen MITTARI and YOTTARI, but this does not mean they are "correct" in the grammatical sense of the word. Remember, there are no absolutes.


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