Japanese Sword Names: Cool Names Given Over Centuries

Japanese swords are renowned for their beauty, craftsmanship, and historical significance. As if the sword type didn't have a cool enough name, we've found some that just make you want to buy one and name yourself.

Here are ten of the coolest Japanese sword names we've found, along with a brief explanation of each name and the type of sword it is. We've also include a section after this briefly explaining the most common types of Japanese swords if you don't know.

Cool Japanese Swords Names

Shisui (止水)

Translates to "Water Stopper." This sword is said to have the power to control water. It is a legendary katana that has been featured in various myths and stories. The sword is often associated with the ability to calm rough seas and bring peace to turbulent waters.

Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (草薙の剣)

Translates to "Grass-Cutting Sword." This legendary sword is one of the Three Imperial Regalia of Japan and is said to have the power to control the wind. It is a double-edged longsword, or tsurugi, and is associated with the Shinto god Susanoo, who used it to slay the eight-headed serpent Yamata no Orochi.

Muramasa (村正)

Named after the famous swordsmith Muramasa Sengo, who lived during the Muromachi period. Muramasa swords were believed to be cursed, bringing misfortune to their wielders. They were often katana or wakizashi and were known for their sharpness and bloodlust, supposedly driving their wielders to commit acts of violence.

Masamune (正宗)

Named after the legendary swordsmith Masamune, who lived during the Kamakura period. Masamune swords are known for their exceptional quality and beauty. They were often katana or tanto and were characterized by their distinct hamon (temper pattern) and hada (grain pattern).

Dojigiri (童子切)

Translates to "Slayer of Shuten-doji." This sword is famous for being used by the hero Minamoto no Raiko to defeat the demon Shuten-doji. It is a tachi, a type of Japanese sword that predates the katana, characterized by its curved blade and edge facing down when worn.

Mikazuki Munechika (三日月宗近)

Translates to "Crescent Moon." This sword is named for the crescent moon shape on its blade and is one of the Five Great Swords of Japan. It is a tachi forged by the famous swordsmith Munechika, known for its elegant design and the crescent moon shape in its hamon.

Onimaru (鬼丸)

Translates to "Demon Circle." This sword is said to have the power to ward off evil spirits. It is a katana that was believed to have been used by the samurai Minamoto no Yorimitsu to defeat the demon Shuten-doji. The sword is known for its supernatural powers and association with demon-slaying legends.

Juzumaru (数珠丸)

Translates to "Rosary Beads." This sword is named for the rosary beads that were used to decorate its hilt. It is a tachi that was believed to have been owned by the Buddhist monk Nichiren. The sword is associated with religious devotion and protection from evil.

Fudo Masamune (不動正宗)

Named after the swordsmith Masamune and the deity Fudo Myoo, who is depicted wielding a sword to cut through ignorance and delusion. It is a katana known for its exceptional craftsmanship and association with the deity of wisdom and fire.

Honjo Masamune (本城正宗)

Named after the swordsmith Masamune and the Honjo district of Tokyo, where it was once kept. This sword is considered one of the finest examples of Masamune's work and is a designated National Treasure of Japan. It is a katana that was owned by several famous samurai and shoguns throughout history, known for its sharpness and beauty.

These swords are famous for their historical significance, legendary powers, and association with famous figures in Japanese history. Each sword has a unique name that reflects its characteristics, origins, or the legends surrounding it.

Quick Guide to Common Japanese Sword Types

  1. Katana (刀): The katana is the most iconic Japanese sword, known for its curved, single-edged blade and association with the samurai class. It is characterized by its long blade, typically around 60 to 80 centimeters (24 to 32 inches), and a two-handed grip. The katana is primarily used for cutting and is worn edge-up.

  2. Wakizashi (脇差): The Wakizashi is a shorter sword often paired with the katana. It has a curved, single-edged blade and is typically around 30 to 60 centimeters (12 to 24 inches) in length. The Wakizashi is used for close-quarters combat, self-defense, and ceremonial purposes.

  3. Tanto (短刀): The Tanto is a Japanese dagger with a straight or slightly curved blade. It is typically around 15 to 30 centimeters (6 to 12 inches) in length. The tanto is used for self-defense, close combat, and ritualistic purposes.

  4. Tachi (太刀): The Tachi is a type of Japanese sword that predates the katana. It has a curved, single-edged blade and is worn edge-down. The Tachi is characterized by its deep curvature and was primarily used by cavalry on the battlefield.

  5. Odachi (大太刀): The Odachi is a large, two-handed sword with a curved blade. It is similar to the Tachi but has a longer blade, typically over 90 centimeters (35 inches) in length. The Odachi was used primarily on the battlefield, often by foot soldiers against cavalry.

  6. Naginata (長刀): The Naginata is a pole weapon with a curved blade at one end. It is similar to a halberd and is used for sweeping strikes and thrusts. The naginata was used by samurai, foot soldiers, and warrior monks.

  7. Yari (槍): The Yari is a Japanese spear with a straight, double-edged blade. It comes in various lengths and blade shapes and is used for thrusting and keeping enemies at a distance.

Over the centuries, Japanese swords have been given names that reflect their unique characteristics, origins, and the legends surrounding them. These names often carry deep cultural and historical significance, adding to the mystique and allure of these iconic weapons. From the legendary Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, said to control the wind, to the fearsome Onimaru, believed to ward off evil spirits, these sword names evoke a sense of awe and respect.

The stories behind these names provide a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Japanese history and mythology, showcasing the enduring fascination with these remarkable weapons. As symbols of honor, power, and artistry, these named swords continue to captivate the imagination of enthusiasts and collectors worldwide.

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