Odachi Vs Nodachi

Nodachi & Katana Comparison

Is there an actual difference between odachi vs. nodachi swords? The simple answer is no. In fact, historical documents show that Japanese warriors used the two terms interchangeably. If you want to learn more about the differences in terminology (katana vs. a greatsword) and why they exist, continue reading.

The Etymology of the Names

Nodachi and odachi swords may not be different weapons, but they do have different meanings. Nodachi literally translates to "Field Sword," while Odachi means "Large / Great Sword." When debating whether to say odachi vs. nodachi, referring to a samurai sword as nodachi specifies the application of the sword and how it’s used on the battlefield. When calling a sword odachi, you are usually referring to the size of the weapon.

So What is an Odachi / Nodachi?

Japanese odachi and nodachi swords are traditionally-made Japanese swords dating as far back as the 5th century. This type of sword appears in many myths as the sword of the Gods. Down on Earth, these weapons were commonly used by cavalry because their greater length allowed for effective attacks by samurai on horseback. When used by foot soldiers, they carried it on their back, and samurai would have an assistant or fellow soldier draw the sword off when needed for battle.

Size & Length

The length of a nodachi was typically around three shaku (or 35.8 inches), although there is no exact definition of the size to be classified as such. When comparing a katana vs. a greatsword, they differ in length by about 10 inches. It was typical for the length of a katana to be around 28-29 inches.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Odachi vs. Nodachi

Since the odachi and nodachi were, in fact, the same weapon, it’s more useful to compare this weapon type to a katana. Odachi were usually more cumbersome, but they had much more strength and power per blow than a katana. While you might need time to recover from a missed blow, using an odachi effectively meant a warrior could break through a katana’s parry with ease. The odachi was a brute force weapon, while the katana rewarded speed, flexibility, and timing.

A warrior who preferred an odachi would need to finish every battle quickly, as carrying the weight of this long blade could tire them out. The advantages of a katana vs. a greatsword meant that a fighter could carry on longer in battle, move faster, and recover more quickly – even if it took many more strikes to finish off an opponent. Choosing your weapon wasn’t really about which sword was better, merely a matter of style and technical preference in the nodachi and katana comparison.

Learn More About Swords

There are many myths about swords perpetuated by movies and television, but we at Swords of Northshire hope to set the record straight when it comes to odachi vs. nodachi. If you’re interested in Japanese history and weapons, or you want to add a handcrafted sword to your collection, our team is here to help. Browse our selection of premium swords and explore our blog to find exactly what you’re looking for.

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