Swords are a very important part of Japan’s history. It consists of a metal blade that varies in length, configuration, and breadth. It evolved together with mankind, and have always been a part of a warrior’s life.
Swords are ancient. Therefore it isn’t uncommon to have a swords with epic legends or myths attached to them. In Japan, swords aren’t viewed only as a piece of metal. It is said that most warriors consider their swords sacred, and so they wield it with utmost care. Samurai most of all, view their swords – or more specifically, Katana – as an extension of themselves.
With this kind of relationship between the Samurai and the sword, Swordsmith forge swords with the highest quality materials. They basically put their all unto these swords, making each sword unique and excellent.
It has definitely got to be awesome to own a sword!
This is about the story a particular Swordsmith and his cursed swords: Muramasa’s Blades.
Who is Muramasa?
Muramasa Sengo was once among the greatest famed Swordsmiths during feudal Japan. He devoted all his life to pursuing a higher degree of sword-forging during the Muromachi period, 14th – 15th Century AD.
He was able to build his own school, and became famous for the quality and the sharpness of the blades they forge. This therefore made his creations a prize sought after by the upper class such as Generals and Warriors. Don’t you think that this is indeed a dream life? It would be nice to be called a fine Swordsmith at least once in your life.
However, when you thought life is so good, fate will always make sure to give a breathtaking turn of events. This is what happened to this infamous Swordsmith. Although his creations were worthy to be fought for, it were also believed that a dark curse is attached to his weapons.
Rumors of a dark curse imbued in Muramasa’s swords were a product of Muramasa himself. His insane and violent fits of rage was as equal as to how good his skills were. Anyone beside him during his ‘moods’ were unlucky enough to be lashed on. His personality became what he forged: an unstable mix of bloodlust, perfection, insanity, and genius.
Wanting more to his excellent creations, he prayed to anyone listening to make his swords become ‘great destroyers’.
One legend says that the Demons heard his plead and granted his wish. They inculcated an evil spirit within his creations and made it strong and scary…. But brilliant.
Many curses began showing after the said legend. Some say that the swords have a tendency to possess its wielder, making them go berserk in a battle rage. Another saying was that it granted temporary superhuman strength and immunity to pain and damage. One last theory was that the swords gave its wielder superior unparalleled swordsmanship.
The Curse of the Swords
But all these theories lead to one scary consequence. The cursed swords of Muramasa had a thirst of blood. Which, if not satisfied, makes the owner kill themselves. Drawn or not, its hungry call won’t stop unless fed. Many poor souls have been killed just to please their swords.
Allegedly, this made the wielders dangerous for people around them. Wielding bloodlust swords desperate to kill, anyone within its reach will be sacrificed for its satisfaction. A sword that does not discriminate its kill, friend or foe, will surely die from its thirst.
There have been tales of the sword wielder to have caused the death of a loved one, allies, and even family. The warriors watch helplessly as they uncontrollably slash around and kill anyone the sword touches.
Over the time, hearing news of users slowly losing their insanity were as common as the changing of the weather. The depression and guilt slowly eating their humanity until they lose everything. When the time comes, the wielder usually takes their own life to escape the dark, maddening prison.
Such is the Tokugawa family. Generations through generations were affected by these swords of Muramasa. It began with Tokugawa’s grandfather, Matsudaira Kiyoyasu. He was the 7th generation from the Mikawa-Matsudaira line and the lord of Okazaki Castle. They arch nemesis were the Oda Nobumitsu of Owari province. In 1535, Kiyoyasu decided to attack Oda’s Moriyama castle.
In the midst of the battle, rumors began that Abe Sadayoshi, Kiyoyasu’s retainer, had betrayed him. Although the man had promised that it was false, he had the gut feeling that Kiyoyasu would send will still execute him. With this, he asked his son Masatoyo to kill him instead to maintain the honor of their family.
Upon the retainer’s death, his son then marched up to where Kiyoyasu was and confronted him. He blamed him for what had happened and attacked him, which was the cause of death for Kiyoyasu.
After investigations, it was later found out that Masatoyo’s blade was a work of Muramasa. It was an oversized o-katana with a nagasa of approximately 81.8 centimeters.
As per history, this was actually one of the earliest records where the extreme sharpness of the blades were mentioned.
The Next Generation
Their misfortune with the blades did not stop there. After Kiyoyasu, his son Hirotada also got hit by the curse. On one spring night, he woke up due to the vibrations of the steps in the hall. He slowly opened his eyes, and saw a glimpse of the intruder’s shadow.
When he tried to run after the intruder, he felt frustrated as he had no more control of his legs. When he looked down, fear overwhelmed him to see that his clothes were soaked in blood. He shouted and ordered his guard, Uemura Ujiaki, to stop the man. His guard then killed the soon-after identified as Iwamatsu Hachiya, who was completely drunk at that time. Theories were that Hachiya was an assassin hired to kill Hirotada. It was only a good thing that his killer was completely drunk or he wouldn’t have missed. When his swords was checked, they learned that the sword was another piece of Muramasa. It was the Wakizashi, another signature cursed blade by the famous Swordsmith.
The Muramasa blades misfortune also passed on to his son, Tokugawa Ieyasu. After his father’s death, the Imagawa family made him a hostage. During this time, Ieyasu accidentally cut himself up with a sword. It wasn’t deep, but it was unnaturally painful. Upon cleaning the sword of the blood, he was shocked to see the ‘Muramasa’ signature on it.
It was not long after that Ieyasu held power, he then began to order the banning of the usage of Muramasa blades. With such a bad experience from these blades, who wouldn’t?
Such Scary (yet Awesome) Swords!
Owning at least one Muramasa blade is a dream come true. Although it might have a little bit of danger attached to it, it’s gonna be an epic once in a lifetime journey to be known to collect such weaponry.