The Ninjato or Shinobikatana is a single-edged sword from feudal Japan. It was the Close-Range weapon of the Ninja.
- 34 inches
- 2 lbs
- Tempered Carbon Steel
The ninjato is typically depicted as being a short sword, (similar to that of a Shikomizue or Joto). This was to trick opponents into thinking his enemy had a full length Katana and overestimate how long it would take to draw the sword, since it does not take as long to unsheathe a ninjato and with the longer handle would not be at a disadvantage as far as length was concerned.
There is evidence to suggest that the Ninjato was simply a sword commonly used by Ashigaru or common foot soldiers. It was actually more common for a Ninja to steal a sword from battlefields or to buy/sell them in black markets in order to get them. Many Ninjatos were simply modified Katanas.
As there is no reliable historical account of the ninjato, most designs are based on speculation. It's design is often considered to be similar to the tantō (a variant of Japanese short swords/daggers). In many Hollywood films, the ninjato is a straight bladed sword with a square tsuba (hand guard).
The Wakizashi is a very similar sword to the Ninjato; normally being used as a sidearm if a Samurai lost his primary weapon. Ninjas would use this sword in an identical manner to that of the Ninjato; as a lighter and faster weapon compared to the Katana. There are theories that the ninjato was fitted with a Nodachi sized handle and carried in a Katana-length scabbard
The ninjato was primarily a slashing sword, although it might have been used for thrusting and stabbing as well. The shorter sword blade coupled with the long scabbard allowed it to be drawn from the scabbard more quickly than the opponent could anticipate. The ninjato would have been more suited for indoor use than the Katana, because it required less swinging room. A straight bladed ninjato would be more suitable for stabbing and thrusting, making it the more logical weapon to use compared to a slashing weapon, while trying to assassinate a Samurai. As the Samurai used lamellar armor that was better at defending against slashing attacks than it was against thrusting attacks.
Since the Samurai rarely fought against short swords it was easy for Ninjas to use the cover of night to trick the Samurai into believing that the Ninja was wielding a long Katana. Also, similar to a cutlass, the Ninjato's short size made it superior in indoor combat to the longer Katana.
- The Saya (scabbard) of the Ninjato was also used as a weapon. It could block enemy blows and also carry glass and dust used to blind the enemy (similar to the Black Egg).
- In the Iga-Ryu Ninja Museum in Iga Ueno, Japan their is a ninjato (or shinobi-gatana) is described as follows: "A straight sword with a distinct rectangular guard. The sheath of the shinobi-gatana has a triangular end. The ninja could climb a fence by driving the sword in the ground and stepping on the guard, leaving no evidence by retrieving it by its long sword knot. Although popular, from the closing days of the Tokugawa shogunate, the ninja's sword was more a symbol-like item rather than a practical one."