The Bushi 武士 (Samurai 侍) and the Katana 刀 (sword)

Following the description on the aesthetic factors of the Japanese sword, the relationship between the Bushi 武士 (Samurai 侍) and the Katana 刀 (sword) need be explored. Bushi 武士 always wore Katana 刀, even when they were not in battle. Nippon-tô 日本刀 (Japanese swords) were the status symbol of the Bushi 武士 as well as a battle weapon. In fact, Katana 刀 was an inseparable part of the Samurai 侍. In the Edo period 江戸時代, when a Daimyô 大名 appointed by the Tokugawa Shôgunate 徳川幕府 to govern local territories retired or died, it was customary to present a masterpiece sword to the Tokugawa Shôgun 徳川将軍. And when a Daimyô 大名 was first appointed as a local governor by the Shôgunate 幕府, a congratulatory sword was presented by the Shôgun 将軍. In addition, when a Daimyô 大名 was consigned to work for the Shôgunate 幕府, for example, on renovation of the Shôgun’s 将軍 Nikkô Tôshôgû 日光東照宮 shrine or construction of major rivers, a sword was often presented to the Daimyô 大名 by the Shôgunate 幕府 as an recognition of the contribution. It was as if the Japanese sword was the most important and prestigious object that could be presented.

There is yet another factor to the importance of the Japanese sword. When ancient burial tombs are excavated, swords are sometimes found among the buried objects. The three kinds of sacred object inherited in the Imperial lineage as symbols of the Emperor include a sword named Amanomurakumo no Tsurugi 天叢雲劔. Also in the famous Atsuta shrine 熱田神宮 in Nagoya 名古屋 there is the famous Kusanagi no Tsurugi 草薙劔. These legendary swords among others in similar situations are being enshrined as sacred objects. The fact that swords have been worshipped as objects of religious faith is a factor which should not be overlooked in understanding the nature of the Japanese sword. It is evident that Japanese sword is far beyond a simple weapon It encloses aesthetic, spiritual and religious significance inside its hard iron material. It is hoped that it is not simply a weapon, is now more clearly understood and recognized.   read full article  by  Michihiro Tanobe 

Sword of Kusunoki Masashige called Koryu Kagemitsu made in 1322, National Treasure of Japan, Tokyo National Museum
Tsuda Echizen no Kami Sukehiro   Osaka Shinto Style.
Sukehiro was one of the greatest and most prolific of all sword smiths of the shinto sword period.
He produced over a thousand swords of remarkable quality.  He made famous his toran ba hamon or great wave temperline which few have been able to reproduce.  Those that have tried have broken during test.   Two modern swordsmiths have been able to reproduce Sukehiro, So Tsutomu and Ogawa Kanekuni of Gifu both of which are mukansa (smith above judgment).