In the realm of legendary blades, there exists a hallowed group known as the Tenka-Goken – the “Five Greatest Swords Under Heaven.” Their names resonate with history, and their stories are etched into the very fabric of Japanese culture. These are not mere weapons; they are living legacies, vessels of a nation’s soul.
The Dōjigiri is a tachi-type Japanese sword that dates back to the 10th to 12th centuries. With a length of 80.0 cm and a curvature of 2.7 cm, this remarkable blade is owned by the Tokyo National Museum. It holds a legendary status as the weapon that Minamoto no Yorimitsu wielded to vanquish the monstrous Shuten-dōji.
Often referred to as “the yokozuna of all Japanese swords” due to its unparalleled craftsmanship, it is a marvel of historical significance. Dōjigiri is renowned as one of the oldest katana-type weapons still in existence. Its quality and artistic value are nothing short of exquisite, and the sword has been exceptionally well-preserved.
The tale of Dōjigiri is a remarkable one, featuring prominently in Japanese folklore. According to the Kyōhō Era Handbook of Famous Works, this sword was instrumental in defeating the fearsome Shuten Dōji of Mt. Ōe in Tanba. As a result, it earned the title “Dôji-slaying Yasutsuna.” The legend of Shuten Dōji, whether demon or highwayman, harks back to the Muromachi period, making Dōjigiri a captivating piece of Japanese history and folklore.
Dōjigiri in Naruto
Dōjigiri Yasutsuna, also known as “Boy Slayer Yasutsuna,” is one of the legendary swords among the Tenka-Goken, a group of five revered Japanese blades. This exquisite weapon is wielded by Daichi Kōrimachi, a Jōnin-ranked shinobi hailing from Yōshigakure. A battle-hardened war veteran, Daichi has earned the nickname “Daichi of the Artifacts” due to his extensive use of rare and powerful artifacts and tools in his combat endeavors.
Daichi’s commitment revolves around safeguarding his homeland from the threat of Yōkai, creatures from Japanese folklore, and maintaining control over them by any means necessary. His exceptional battle skills and formidable reputation precede him, to the extent that shinobi from other countries are ordered to avoid any conflict or confrontation with Daichi.
Interestingly, Daichi’s identity remains shrouded in mystery, as those outside of Yōshigakure have never seen his face behind his mask. Born into nobility as the second son of Kan Korimachi and Kisshoten, Daichi was inspired by his father, a distinguished war veteran who had partaken in numerous conflicts. He swiftly followed in his father’s footsteps, dedicating himself to mastering the martial arts, particularly excelling in bukijutsu, the art of weaponry.
The Onimaru is a distinguished Tachi sword with a length of 78.3 cm, now held by the Imperial Household Agency. It holds a significant historical role, being considered one of the three regalia swords of the Ashikaga shōguns. A captivating tale from the epic Taiheiki recounts the sword’s supernatural encounter with an oni demon that was cursing Hōjō Tokimasa.
In this encounter, the sword demonstrated extraordinary power by moving on its own, ultimately vanquishing the malevolent demon. The name “Onimaru” originates from this remarkable episode, further solidifying its place in Japanese folklore.
Taiheiki itself is a historical epic composed in the late 14th century, chronicling the turbulent period from 1319 to 1367, particularly focusing on the Nanboku-chō era, characterized by the conflict between the Northern Court of Ashikaga Takauji in Kyoto and the Southern Court of Emperor Go-Daigo in Yoshino.
Onimaru in One Piece
Just as the Onimaru sword, with its supernatural encounter with an oni demon, demonstrated extraordinary power, the komagitsune Onimaru in One Piece fiercely protects the graves of Ringo, displaying remarkable abilities. Onimaru was once a companion of Ringo’s daimyo, Shimotsuki Ushimaru.
After Ushimaru’s passing, Onimaru teamed up with Kawamatsu, gathering weapons and safeguarding them against theft. As Gyukimaru, he stole weapons while guarding graves. He’s fiercely protective, merciful in battle, and possesses impressive thieving skills, biting strong, enduring attacks, and displaying intelligence about Wano’s legends.
Mikazuki is an ancient Japanese sword known for its “crescent-moon-shaped pattern.” This 10th to 12th-century tachi is housed in the Tokyo National Museum. It has inspired art, particularly the noh play Kokaji, focusing on its creation. Emperor Ichijo commissions the sword from Sanjō no Kokaji Munechika, who prays for divine help at Fushimi Inari-taisha. A mysterious boy guides him, and Inari herself aids in forging the sacred sword.
Mikazuki in One Piece
Mikazuki, the character and leader of the Big Helmet Pirates, shares a name with an ancient Japanese sword called Mikazuki, known for its distinctive “crescent-moon-shaped pattern.” Just as the sword Mikazuki has an intriguing history, the character Mikazuki has his own story within the world of pirates.
The sword Mikazuki inspired art, including the noh play Kokaji, while the character Mikazuki has a distinctive appearance with a crescent moon on his helmet. Both Mikazuki and the sword Mikazuki have a sense of uniqueness and a touch of mystery associated with them.
The Ōdenta is a Tachi sword with a length of 66.1 cm and a curvature of 2.7 cm. It was owned by Maeda Ikutokukai and was one of the three regalia swords of the Ashikaga clan, alongside Onimaru and Futatsu-mei. The sword was later passed down to Maeda Toshiie.
Legends surround this sword, one of which claims it healed Toshiie’s daughter, while another states that birds avoid the warehouse where the sword is stored. The name “Ōdenta” means “Great Denta” or “The Best among Swords Forged by Denta.”
Ōdenta in Monster Hunter Rise
Just as the Ōdenta is a treasured heirloom with unique qualities in the context of traditional Japanese swords, the Kadachi Otenta holds a similar significance in the world of Monster Hunter Rise.
It’s a Charge Blade weapon with a shock-enhanced edge, representing the mastery of its craft. Both blades have unique attributes and are cherished for their exceptional qualities, whether in the realm of historical artifacts or within the gaming world of Monster Hunter Rise.
The Juzumaru is a Tachi sword with a length of 81.08 cm and a curvature of 3.0 cm. It is owned by Honkōji Temple in Amagasaki, and its name is associated with a legend in which Nichiren adorned the sword with a juzu (a loop of prayer beads) to cleanse evil spirits.
Juzumaru in Nioh 2
The Juzumaru in Nioh 2 is inspired by a real-life Tachi sword called Juzumaru, known for its length of 81.08 cm and 3.0 cm curvature. The actual Juzumaru is owned by Honkōji Temple in Amagasaki, and there’s a fascinating legend associated with it.
In this legend, Nichiren, a prominent monk, adorned the sword with a juzu, a loop of prayer beads, to cleanse evil spirits. This historical and spiritual connection adds depth and significance to the Juzumaru in Nioh 2, making it a powerful and meaningful weapon in the game.
As our odyssey through the realms of the Tenka-Goken draws to a close, we find ourselves humbled by the echoes of history and the grandeur of these extraordinary swords. They are more than mere objects; they are living embodiments of Japan’s spirit and soul.
The Tenka-Goken, the “Five Greatest Swords Under Heaven,” symbolizes not only the pinnacle of swordcraft but also the unbroken thread that connects the present to a magnificent past. In their presence, we witness the dramatic legacy of a nation, a history of honor, and a legacy that lives on through these legendary blades.