Are Nodachi and Odachi Different Swords? Learn More on the Blog


When you start shopping for traditional Japanese swords, you’ll come across a number of different sword types. From katanas to wakizashi, there are many to choose from. In fact, some swords were worn at the same time, and many are displayed together. As you start your research into nodachi and odachi, it’s important to explore any important distinctions between the two. The experts at Swords of Northshire have years of experience creating Japanese and Chinese swords, so turn to us for all your questions about these ancient weapons.


Are Nodachi and Odachi Different?

Nodachi literally translates into Field Sword, while odachi translates as Large or Great Sword. So, is there an actual difference between the nodachi and the odachi blades? The simple answer is no. Historical documents show that the Japanese used the two terms interchangeably.


The only significant difference between the two is contextual. If you’re discussing the specific application of the sword, you would refer to it as a nodachi. When talking about the size of the weapon, you call it an odachi. Ultimately, they are the same weapon.


What is a Nodachi/ Odachi?

Since there are a number of contradictions about what exactly an odachi is and what a nodachi is, Swords of Northshire is here to break it down for you. This weapon is a traditionally made Japanese sword dating as far back as the 5th century. It was said to have been used by the Gods of Japanese mythology.


As for humanity, the nodachi length allowed for effective attacks on foot soldiers by samurai on horseback and was commonly used by cavalry as a result. When used on foot instead of from horseback, it was carried on the back or by hand. Samurai would have an assistant or fellow soldier draw the sword off his back when needed for battle. Nodachi were also frequently used as a votive offering in shrines, often when praying before heading off to war.


Nodachi length was typically around 3 shaku (35.8 inches), though there is no exact definition of the size that can classify a sword as nodachi. For comparison, a common length for a katana sword is around 28-29 inches. Nodachi are the longest swords of all the styles created by Japanese swordsmiths and are notoriously difficult to make.


Pros and Cons of a Nodachi/ Odachi



Because of the nodachi's length, the katana is a weapon for quicker combat. A missed strike with a nodachi necessitates a long recovery and leaves the samurai open to a counter attack by the enemy.


Due to the nodachi’s length, this sword also handles completely differently than a katana. None of your skills with other swords translate laterally in this case, and you would have to train specifically with this sword to be proficient in combat. As you train, you’ll realize that a warrior utilizing a nodachi wants the fight to be over as quickly as possible. The strain on muscles that are forced to bear the weight of this larger sword will tire a samurai out much more swiftly than a katana.



Although more cumbersome, the mass and power of the nodachi can be very effective when a blow is landed. A katana-carrying opponent attempting to parry a strike would be no match against the sheer force of a nodachi.


The katana wielding samurai would need to rely on both his patience and speed to attack at just the right time. A samurai with a katana must strike before his opponent starts their attack or as their opponent is recovering between missed strikes.


You would not want to put yourself in a position to have to block the swing of a nodachi, which could break your sword or bring you to the ground — a quick death even for the most experienced samurai.


The pros and cons of the nodachi vs the katana don’t conclude that one is better than the other. It all comes down to the skill and training style of the samurai opponents.


Nodachi/ Odachi from Swords of Northshire 


For a sword with a massive reach and terrifying power, the nodachi should be your number one choice. Whether you want to display this blade with others in your collection or you want to learn how to use it, Swords of Northshire can provide you with a full tang, battle ready, made to order piece. Explore our selection of  nodachi / odachi to find the perfect one for your needs!

At Swords of Northshire, we pride ourselves in our quality work. If for any reason you aren't happy with your purchase, we will make it right! We guarantee you'll love your sword or your money back