Learn about one of the most elegant swords in the Japanese collection known as the Shirasaya Japanese sword.
When you take a look at the collection of Japanese swords that has been accumulated over the centuries, elegance seems to be the overriding factor that embraces the entire collection. Japanese sword smiths were no lesser artists than the painters and sculptors produced by the country.
Japanese swords are considered as works of art. In fact making Japanese swords is and always has been considered as an art form. Amongst the many swords that bring out the artistic nature of Japanese sword production is the Shirasaya Japanese sword.
The elegant slicing machine
The Shirasaya sword is elegance personified. The title of the sword translates as white scabbard in English. The unique design of the Shirasaya is based around the minimalist philosophy of sword construction. This can be seen by the way its grip and scabbard have been designed. The minimalist approach is what gives the shiasaya sword its elegance.
Traditionally the shirasaya featured a smooth grip that was free from any fancy fittings whatsoever. In fact except for a bamboo pin or two that were used to hold the blade in its proper place the grip had no fittings at all.
Equally plain in design was the scabbard. At times the scabbard would have certain detailed information regarding the sword on it. Other than that it was kept really simple.
Although the traditional Shirasaya sword came with a white scabbard as the name suggests there have been examples of these swords lacquered in black. The black scabbard is a later addition that aims to bring a modern touch to this traditionally simplistic sword.
The drawbacks in design
The shirasaya sword with all its elegance and beauty does fall short in some ways when it comes to functionality. This disturbed balance of form and function is one of the draw backs of the Japanese shirasaya sword. The sword is devalued because it is void of any guard whatsoever and has a relatively poor grip.
This poses two big problems to the user. The fact that it does not have a guard exposes the user’s fingers and arms to sword strikes without any defence whatsoever. The fact that the grip lacks stability poses another great risk of your own hand sliding onto the blade because of the slippery grip and the missing guard. Hence the shirasaya is a rather unsafe choice when it comes to the actual function of the sword.
From the combat perspective the shirasaya is definitely not one of Japan’s best creations. Rather it has all the features that make the user prone to injury. It is however important to understand why they were created in this manner despite the knowledge and craftsmanship that the Japanese possessed when it comes to sword production.
Basically the Japanese shirasaya sword is considered to be for stealth purposes. Therefore it needed to be built in such a manner that would make it easy to conceal rather than make it the ultimate combat sword used during ordinary battles.