A tanto (short sword) is a common Japanese single or, occasionally, double edged knife or dagger with a blade length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches). The tanto was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tanto first began to appear in the Heian period, however these blades lacked any artistic quality and were purely weapons. In the early Kamakura period high-quality artistic tanto began to appear, and the famous Yoshimitsu (the greatest tanto maker in Japanese history) began his forging. Tanto production increased greatly around the Muromachi period and then declined in the Shinto period (new sword period). Consequently, Shintō period tantō are quite rare. They regained popularity in the Shin-Shinto Period (new-new sword period) and production increased.
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