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Kaiken (dagger)

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Subject: Glossary of Japanese swords, Yoroidōshi, List of daggers, Guntō, Japanese sword types
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Kaiken (dagger)

Japanese kaiken/kwaiken style tanto.

A kaiken (懐剣) is an 20–25 cm (8–10 in) long, single or double-edged dagger[1] without ornamental fittings housed in a plain mount.


It was once carried by men and women of the samurai class in Japan. It was useful for self-defense in indoor spaces where the long blade katana and intermediate sword wakizashi were inconvenient. Women carried them in their kimono either in a pocket-like space (futokoro) or in the sleeve pouch (tamoto)[2] for self-defense and for ritual suicide by slashing the veins in the left side of the neck.[3][4] When a samurai woman married, she was expected to carry a kaiken with her when she moves in with her husband.[5]


Prior to modern orthographic reform the kaiken is now called Kwaiken kwaiken (pocket knife)It modern term and has no reference in historical records;[6] also called a futokoro-gatana

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^

External links

  • Nihonto message board forum
  • Richard Stein's Japanese sword guide
  • pp. 179–180Mamori-gatanaJapan Arts Council e-book

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