Odachi or Nodachi: History of Traditionally made Japanese Samurai Sword

Odachi or Nodachi is a Japanese Samurai Sword, which was used by Samuries class of Feudal Japan. These swords very huge in terms of weight and height, those where somewhat equivalent to its cousins like Claymore, Longsword or Miao Dao.

When you write the name of the sword odachi it is originally written as ōdachi, ( ō ) as a special line over it and means (great) or (big) and the remaining word “dachi” means “Tachi” (great sword). Tachi is the original design of Katana a great Swamarie sword, Katana as a very great bond with Swamarie.

History of Odachi or Nodachi and their meanings

The history of Odachi (Nodachi) started in the 15th century A.D. We all know Japanese are endorsed with making cutting edge Swords and Nodachi(Odachi ) is also one of the creations of swordsmiths in Japan. The length of the Nodachi blade was about 90.9 cm which is 35.8 inches however, there is no exact length of an Odachi sword defined in any of Japan book of sword creation. Weight of a sword was about 14.5 kg this is one of the craziest designs of history which creates a mystery of the people who used it.

The credit for creating Odachi or Nodachi goes to the Nanboku-chō period. The Nanboku-chō period is between 14th century to 16th century, after the creation of Nodachi in the 15th century it became the main choice for open battles, because of its length that’s keeps the enemy out of reach. Even though it gained immense popularity during the 15th century of Battles, Cover of attraction towards Odachi started depleding.

Where was the Odachi or Nodachi Introduced?

Odachi was introduced in Japan as an Infantry sword also as a samurai weapon of federal Japan.

Practically speaking by going through the various documented article, It was more an offering to a shrine and used in ceremonies sword than a war weapon, because of its impartial size and weight. 14kg sword is not a small weight to fight a war with but there have used in wars like the Siege of Osaka 1615. It feels so much existed to read such facts and stories (being honest).

How long is an odachi or Nodachi?

As I have already defined, there is no exact dimension recorded in the history books. With that said the length of Odachi differs from 35 inches to 39 inches, Also there are some websites listing data of the sword which is more than 2 metres ie, 6.56 feet long.

The longest Nodachi sword present in the museum, which is recovered and restored from 15th century as the length of 3.77 ie, 12.3 7 feet and weighs about 14.5 4 kg ie, 31.9 7 lbs. The impressive handmade Sword of the history which was the weapon of choice in the field battles during the period of Nanboku-chō is below:

Which was the knife used along with the Odachi or Nodachi?

The few knives or swords that assisted Odachi during the wars are as below:

  1. Kodachi (小太刀) or Tachi
  2. Tantō (短刀)
  3. Kogatana (小刀)
  1. Kodachi (小太刀) or Tachi is one of the oldest Japanese swords of the samurai class which came into existence during the Kamakura period
  2. Tantō (短刀) as both a single edge patter as well as the double-edged patter which was about 15 to 20 cm. Tanto is modelled as a Hira-Zukuri style. It came into existence during the Heian period.
  3. Kogatana (小刀) is a single-sided blade which is also about 20 cm, there is no exact time frame documented about the invention of this knife, whereas it was also part of Odachi during wars.

Disclamier: There are also different knives that assisted Odachi Or Nodachi during those period, but these are only few knifes which are documented in Wikipidea and other sources on the Internet.

What was the odachi or Nodachi used for?

Odachi was basically designed for open battles, even though it was designed for battles, It was not that easy to be carried on your waist like normal Swords. As it was impossible to be carried along with your waste, they carried by two means one is to carry by their back and other is too simply hold the Nodachi in the hand.

There is a recording of using Odachi or Nodachi in Tokugawa Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyori wars, Impartial capability of drawing the knife quickly during an emergency because of length and weight it was later treated as a ceremonial Piece.

During the Edo period it considered as a ceremonial weapon then Combat weapon, It was sometimes placed as a offerings for God, Japanese called it as Shinto shrines, odachi(Nodachi) also served as a rank of the swordsman skill, has it was very difficult to be manufactured, Later it was given as a rank of honour to the best Swordsmens during this period.

What is the difference between a katana and a Nodachi?


Katana is one of the famous and traditional Samurai swords of Japan, Katana is a term used to define a longsword or Big sword. which is approximately 60 CM, It as a moderately curved blade which has a distinct look with a single-edged blade with long grip handle. we can also define katana as the upgraded version of Tachi.

Katana came into existence during the Kamakura period that is around 1185 to 1333. it was also referred to as a lower range Warrior weapon. The main reason Katrina gained immense popularity because of the close battle compact. Tachi was the famous swords used by Samurai whereas when Mongol invaded Japan eventually they replaced Tachi design with Katana. And Katana became one of the best sword ever created in samurai history.

Odachi or Nodachi:

Both Odachi and Katana as the same design, just the difference between these both would be the size and weight of the swords.

  • Katana is 60–73 cm and weighs about 1.1–1.3 kgs whereas
  • Odachi is 90.9 cm and weighs about 14 kgs.

Odachi is created way back in 15th century during the Nanboku-chō period and decided its reputation after Siege of Osaka of 1615 after that, Its been used as the Offering to God and the Symbol of rank to the soldiers.

What are some Japanese weapons other than Odachi or Nodachi?

Some of the Japanese weapons are:

  • Chokutō(直刀)
  • Tsurugi/Ken(剣)
  • Tachi(太刀)
  • Kodachi(小太刀)
  • Uchigatana(打刀)
  • Katate-uchi(片手打ち)
  • Katana(刀)
  • Wakizashi(脇差)
  • Nagamaki (長巻)
  • Naginata(なぎなた, 薙刀)
  • Yari(槍)
  • Tantō(短刀)
  • Ken(剣)

When did the use of Odachi Decline?

Odachi or Nodachi declining during The Siege of Osaka.

You might wonder what is Siege of Osaka?

It is a battle between Tokugawa Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyori. After this battle, the Shogunal government came to existence. This government law described the prohibition of usage and carrying Swords over the specific length. As the length exceeded the usage and production of odachi gradually declined during this time frame ( 1617 to 1645) this let do the decrease in the popularity of odachi. After the fall of the Shogunal government, the size of Nodachi or Odachi was cut to a shorter and legal size. which demolished the original size and framework of the sword, as well the longer Odachi was no longer used and practised during this time, The only time they prepared long Odachi was during the offerings for God, also few speculate that the downfall of Nodachi was because of the impracticality design for shorter compact and easy use.

Conclusion On Odachi or Nodachi Sword

I have written so many articles about history weapons on this website, but this article is one of my favourites because of the Sword, There are so many facts that you cannot digest about Odachi Or Nodachi swords. Facts like

  • There were separate schools that though samurai how to draw so big weapon during wars.
  • People who used the odachi sword had a dedicated follower to carry his war weapon.
  • People were actually using a weapon of 14 kg with over a 12 feet long sword.

Also, there is a smaller version of Odachi available in the Online market like Amazon to buy. Why not have a piece of history with you. I am buying one and you???

Thanks for reading, ♥ towards Pocket knife

Reference: japanswordart.com , wikipedia.org , crowsurvival.com , ancient-origins.net

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