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Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi


Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi means "Grass Cutting Sword" and is part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan. The tsurugi is a straight bladed double edged sword; the curved single edged swords that Japan is traditionally known for did not exist until the 8th century. It was originally known as Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi.

The sword received its name from a battle that took place sometime between the 1st and 4th century AD by Prince Ousu. He was nicknamed Yamato Takeru, or "The Brave of Yamato". His father, Emperor Keiko of Yamato, sent him to quell a rebellion in the eastern lands and he stopped to pray at the shrine in Ise province which was supervised by his aunt. She had a premonition that he would need the Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi in battle so she let him borrow it.

At one point in the fighting Yamato Takeru was surrounded and his opponents set fire to the grass hoping to burn him out. He drew the Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi and cut away the grass to prevent it from burning and a divine wind blew the fire back upon his enemies. He continued to swing his sword and blow the fire into his enemies' camp turning the tide of battle and eventually carrying the day. From that point on, the sword was known as Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi or "Grass Cutting Sword".

Yamato Takeru returned to the sword to his aunt where it would stay until 668 when it was stolen by a Korean monk. He attempted to sail away with the sword, but Susano-o caused a terrible tempest and forced the ship to turn back. The sword was returned, at which point it was moved to the Atsuta Shrine.

In 1185, the Imperial Regalia were on a ship with the emperor Antoku and his grandmother who were surrounded by the enemy Minamoto clan representing the shogunate. Rather than allow themselves to be captured, the grandmother grabbed the regalia and the emperor and dove into the sea. A stray arrow caused her to drop the Yata no Kagami, but she carried the Yasakani no Magatama and the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi to the bottom of the sea. The Taira clan loyal to the emperor said that the sword was lost, but the Minamoto clan said that it was only a replica and the original remained safe. The sword is believed to still be housed at the Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya, but only the emperor and a select few high priests are allowed to look upon it, and there are no pictures or drawings to verify its existence.

Japan, Mythology, Sword, Weapon


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