What is the Length of a Katana?

What is the Length of a Katana?

There is no right or wrong length for a Katana, as a sword's length will ideally match the dimensions of the wielder. However, we can make some generalisations as to what size we might expect the ‘average’ Katana to be.

Katana Measurements

A Katana is traditionally measured from the notch in the habaki to the tip of the sword, this is done in a straight line and doesn’t account for the curvature of the sword, most Katana will be in excess of 2 shaku. A shaku is a unit of measurement which is calibrated against the metric system, where 10 metres is equivalent to exactly 33 shaku, so a shaku is 33.3 cm or 11.93 inches.

Historically shaku where slightly longer, equalling 13.96 inches or 35.45 cm. This discrepancy can cause some confusion, depending on which shaku value is used and whether it’s converted to the imperial or metric system. For the sake of clarity and to keep things consistent, we’ll only use the modern measurement of a shaku.

If we take a look at the most common types of Japanese blades they can be broken down into 3 lengths:

  • 1 shaku commonly used for Tanto or daggers
  • 1-2 shaku often used for Wakizashi or Kodachi
  • 2-3 shaku commonly used for katana

In terms of the average or most popular katana length, you can expect the average blade to be between 2.3 and 2.5 shaku or 27 and 30 inches (70 to 76 cm). The overall length of a Katana including the tsuka (handle) can be expected to between 3.3 and 3.6 shuka or 39 and 43 inches (100cm to 110cm).  The models we sell are between these ranges.

As we’ve already discussed, it’s possible to find Katana that fall well outside these averages, which doesn’t mean they are any less capable or effective. A sword which suits a 6-foot man might not be suitable for a 5-foot woman, finding a blade that suits your body dimensions is just as important as finding a quality sword.