Why Do Samurai Carry 2 Swords?

Samurai, a Japanese warrior class known for their strict code of honor, discipline, and martial arts skills, are often depicted carrying two swords. But why do they carry two swords instead of one like other warriors of that time? In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the samurai’s two-sword tradition.

Before we delve into the reasons, let’s first understand what the two swords are called. The long sword, which is the primary weapon, is called the katana, while the shorter sword, the wakizashi, is used for close combat and as a backup weapon. Together, these two swords are known as daisho, which means big-little in Japanese.

Reasons Why Samurai Carry Two Swords

1. Symbol of Status

The samurai’s two-sword tradition is believed to have started during the Muromachi period (1336-1573), where only high-ranking samurai were allowed to carry two swords. This privilege was a symbol of their status and power in the feudal hierarchy of Japan. The daisho was not just a weapon, but a status symbol that represented the samurai’s social class and honor.

2. Practicality in Battle

Carrying two swords also had practical advantages in battle. The katana was ideal for long-range attacks, while the wakizashi was used for close combat, such as when an opponent got too close for the katana to be effective. Having two swords also meant that if one sword was damaged or lost during battle, the samurai would still have a weapon to fight with.

3. Displaying Martial Arts Skills

The daisho was not just a weapon but an extension of the samurai’s body and skill. The samurai would often show off their martial arts skills by drawing both swords simultaneously, a technique called nito-ryu. This display of skill and dexterity was not just impressive, but also intimidating to enemies.

4. Protection Against Assassination

As assassinations were a common occurrence during the feudal period, carrying two swords provided samurai with an extra layer of protection. The wakizashi, being a shorter sword, was easier to conceal and could be used as a surprise attack against an assassin or attacker.

5. Religious and Superstitious Beliefs

Samurai also carried two swords due to religious and superstitious beliefs. Some samurai believed that the daisho represented the unity of the body and mind, while others believed that carrying two swords would bring them good luck and protect them from harm.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Question Answer
1. Were all samurai allowed to carry two swords? No, only high-ranking samurai were allowed to carry two swords during the Muromachi period.
2. What is the difference between the katana and the wakizashi? The katana is a long sword used for long-range attacks, while the wakizashi is a shorter sword used for close combat and as a backup weapon.
3. Did samurai always carry their two swords with them? Yes, the daisho was considered an essential part of the samurai’s attire and was carried with them at all times.
4. Did samurai ever use their two swords simultaneously? Yes, some samurai would use both swords simultaneously in a technique called nito-ryu.


The samurai’s two-sword tradition has a rich history and symbolism. From being a symbol of status and honor to providing practicality in battle and protection against assassination, the daisho has been an important part of the samurai’s life. Even today, the two swords remain an iconic symbol of the samurai and Japanese culture.

Thank you for reading this article on why samurai carry two swords. We hope you found it informative and enjoyable. Please do check out our other articles on Japanese culture and history. Until next time!

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