lysapadin: pen & ink painting of bamboo against a full moon (Default)
engawa: The veranda or porch seen on classic Japanese buildings.

Go Rin No Sho (The Book of Five Rings): Miyamoto's treatise on strategy, philosophy, and kenjutsu. It is still studied today, and provides insight into the art of the sword and of war. Again, Wikipedia has a nice overview of the book here, and there are English translations readily available.

Hagakure: This is a slightly later text than the Go Rin No Sho, and is a compilation of the samurai philosophy of Yamamoto Tsunetomo. Its focus is primarily on bushido, or the way of the warrior. The Hagakure was compiled after the heyday of the samurai, and in many senses reifies the "good old days" that had passed for the samurai. It also provides advice for how samurai should conduct their love affairs with each other, which is endlessly entertaining. The Wikipedia article on the Hagakure is here, and its article on Yamamoto Tsunetomo is here.

ittōryu: A kenjutsu style using one sword; generally the sword would be the longer katana, although one supposes this is not strictly necessary.

katana: The longer Japanese sword; generally, this is the sword that most people think of when they think of Japanese swords, but it more specifically means a sword whose blade is over 60 centimeters long.

Miyamoto Musashi: A famous Japanese swordsman and philosopher; he wrote the Go Rin No Sho and practiced a two-sword form of kenjutsu which was known variously as niten'ichi or nitoichi ("two heavens as one" and "two swords as one" respectively). Wikipedia has a good beginning biography of him here.

nitōryu: A kenjutsu style that uses two swords. Miyamoto advocated using two katana to train, which would allow the swordsman to develop greater control if he later switched to a katana-wakizashi combination, but the more general combination seems to be a katana in the dominant right hand and wakizashi in the left hand. Miyamoto advised using the two-sword style in melee situations, rather than two-person duels.

wakizashi: A shorter Japanese sword; its blade is usually between 30 and 60 centimeters long. The katana-wakizashi pair are what are usually seen in images of typical samurai.

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