A Tanto (tantō) is a type of dagger. The blade is traditionally single or double edged and can range in length between 15 and 30cm. The tanto’s primary use was a type of stabbing weapon, however, the blade could also be used for slashing as well. Some tanto where forged with a particularly thick cross section which is thought to aid in piercing the armour of enemy, this type of dagger would be called a yoroi toshi. A tanto would most often be worn by Samurai and it was fairly uncommon to come across a commoner with a tanto. It was not only men who carried these daggers, women would on occasions carry a small tanto called a kaiken in their obi, and would be used for self-defence. In feudal Japan a tanto would occasionally be worn by Samurai in place of the wakizashi in a combination called the daisho, which roughly translates as little big, in reference to the big Samurai Sword (Katana) and the small dagger (tanto). Before the rise of the katana it was more common for a Samurai to carry a tachi and tanto combination as opposed to a katana and wakizashi.
An average tanto will be 25cm in length, 17mm wide and 8mm thick near the base and more often than not will be straight rather than curved. The blade shape and style can vary greatly, but there are a few common types.
Hira: This style of blade is very common and is characterised by the lack of a shinogi, the edge bevels stretch all the way from the edge to the spine, which created an almost triangular cross section. It’s a popular design choice due to its simplicity and function over style.
Shobu: This is another popular tanto blade type which in many ways is similar to a shinogi, with the main difference being that it lacks a yokote. The edges curve smoothly and are uninterrupted all the way to the point of the blade.