I know that "tsuba" is the handguard that you use to push katana out of its scabbard and "nuke to" means to draw a sword I think.

I'm curious how would you say/write down "draw a little bit of blade from the scabbard with your thumb via tsuba", which could indicate the intent of the blade wielder wanting to start trouble.

  • 1
    It’s not exactly what you are looking for, but an interesting related term is (刀を)鞘走らせる. Its precise meaning is ambiguous imo but it’s often used in scenarios where the katana or sword is just being drawn, or about to be drawn, sometimes partially or sometimes fully. Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 2:17

1 Answer 1


This is called 鯉口を切る. In some monolingual dictionaries, there is even an entry for it:

すぐに刀が抜けるように、刃を少し引き出しておく。鯉口をくつろげる。 「刀を引き寄せ、―・って見せた」〈藤村・夜明け前〉
Source: 大辞泉 via kotobank.jp

the description roughly translating to

Pulling out the blade a little bit so as to enable quick drawing of the sword. Loosening the mouth of a sword sheath.

鯉口 koiguchi literally means "carp's mouth", because, well, the mouth of the sheath resembles an open carp's mouth.

The verb 切る kiru has many different meanings (大辞泉 lists 22 meanings) and here 切る should maybe not be understood with its common meaning of "cutting" but probably with the meaning of "opening something sealed/closed" (point 3 in ibid.).

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