It was once carried by men and women of the samurai class in Japan. It was useful for self-defense in indoor spaces where the long blade katana and intermediate sword wakizashi were inconvenient. Women carried them in their kimono either in a pocket-like space (futokoro) or in the sleeve pouch (tamoto) for self-defense and for ritual suicide by slashing the veins in the left side of the neck. When a samurai woman married, she was expected to carry a kaiken with her when she moves in with her husband.
Prior to modern orthographic reform the kaiken was called a kwaiken (pocket knife); also called a futokoro-gatana
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- Minoru, Nishio (1985). Nishio Minoru, Iwabuchi Etsutarō, Mizutani Shizuo. ed (in Japanese). Iwanami kokugo jiten (3 ed.). Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten. pp. 155. ISBN 4-00-080003-5. //books.google.com/books?id=DxIhmwEACAAJ.
- Nihonto message board forum
- Richard Stein's Japanese sword guide
- Japan Arts Council e-book Mamori-gatana pp. 179–180
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