The yoroi-dōshi (鎧通し), "armor piercer"[1][2] or "mail piercer",[3] were one of the traditionally made Japanese swords (nihontō) that were worn by the samurai class as a weapon in feudal Japan.


The yoroi-dōshi is an extra thick tantō, a long knife, which appeared in the Sengoku period (late Muromachi) of the 14th and 15th centuries.[4] The yoroi-dōshi was made for piercing armour[5] and for stabbing while grappling in close quarters. The weapon ranged in size from 20 cm to 22 cm, but some examples could be under 15 cm, with a "tapering mihaba, iori-mune, thick kasane at the bottom, and thin kasane at the top and occasionally moroha-zukuri construction".[4] The motogasane (blade thickness) at the hamachi (the notch at the beginning of the cutting edge) can be up to a half-inch thick, which is characteristic of the yoroi-dōshi. The extra thickness at the spine of the blade distinguishes the yoroi-dōshi from a standard tantō blade.

Yoroi-dōshi were worn inside the belt on the back or on the right side[1] with the hilt toward the front and the edge upward. Due to being worn on the right, the blade would have been drawn using the left hand, giving rise to the alternate name of metezashi (馬手差),[6] or "horse-hand (i.e. rein-hand, i.e. left-hand) blade".

See also


  1. Japan by Pierre Landy; Nagel Publishers p.68
  2. Selected masterpieces of Asian art Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - 1992 p.97
  3. Report of the proceedings of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia 1891 p.28
  4. The Connoisseur's Book of Japanese Swords, Author Kōkan Nagayama, Publisher Kodansha International, 1998, ISBN 4-7700-2071-6, ISBN 978-4-7700-2071-0 p. 30
  5. Secrets of the samurai: a survey of the martial arts of feudal Japan Oscar Ratti, Adele Westbrook p. 260
  6. 1988, 国語大辞典(新装版) (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan
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