display | more...
A dagger without a guard, originating in Japan. Also called a kusungou, refering to the length of the blade which was originaIlyKu (nine) sun, go (five) bu, 0-95 of a Japanese foot, equal to about 10.8 English inches. Apparently this type of knife was not carried by persons of rank until the later Tokugawan times; where it then became popular and was used by old men, men living in semi-religious retirement, and by those rewarded with titles.

In the early pat of the Tokugawan period, the end of the scabbard was usually protected by a ring of buffalo horn which had a shoulder on it that locked into a similar ring on the hilt. Later, when this kind of knife became more popular with the higher classes, these pieces were often made of metal decorated like the other fittings. The decoration was partly on each so that the two appeared as one when the knife was sheathed. The ring on the hilt was sometimes called the fuchi, and the one on the scabbard the koi-guchi kanagu. Usually the two, collectively, were called the koi-guchi. Sometimes the koi-guchi was a special fitting with a projecting flange, if it was attached to the hilt the flange fitted over a plain cap on the scabbard; if it was attached to the scabbard a plain cap on the hilt fitted into it.

These knives were used in committing ceremonial suicide, harakiri or seppuku. When used for this purpose they were fitted with hilts and scabbards of plain white wood.

Often, the aikuchi was carried by those whose fighting days were over, apparently as a notice that while the wearer was no longer seeking trouble, he was still prepared to defend himself. One of the old meanings of the name is "a pleasant companion." Another derivation, which appears to be more probable, is that the open end of the scabbard is called the koi-guchi (literally carp mouth), and the opening in the end of the hilt for the tang the tsuka-guchi (hilt mouth), the knife is called ai-kuchi (meet mouth), the two not being separated by a guard as with other knives.