Swords

Mystery of the Honjo Masamune – the Lost Sword

Editor Emeritus Chris Dumm forwarded this on to me this evening. It is the story of a legendary Japanese sword that was lost in the waning days of WWII. It is believed that it was surrendered to American forces and sent home as a war prize. It is entirely possible that one of the greatest swords of all time may be gathering dust in an attic somewhere, its owner unaware that they are in possession of 7 centuries of history.

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A confirmed Masamune sword (source)

From The Daily Beast:

Japanese swordsmiths have been fashioning these delicate and deadly blades, also known as katana, for over a millennium, but there is none that has matched the sword known as the Honjo Masamune.

Considered one of the best swords to have ever been crafted, the Honjo Masamune has lived a storied life over the past seven centuries. It has been wielded by samurai, passed down through generations of a Japanese shogunate, and been honored as an official National Treasure of Japan.

But the one test it has yet to overcome is the invasion of American soldiers during World War II, when it was seen for the last time.

The sword’s creation is enshrined in legend, arising from a contest between Masamune and a rival bladesmith.

Masamune and Muramasa each dropped one of their swords, point down, into a nearby river. Muramasa was sure that he had won after his blade sliced through everything the current sent its way.

But a passing monk disagreed. He awarded the win to Masamune, whose blade had only sliced through the leaves, sparing the innocent lives of fish and other living things that had come its way.

Of all of Masamune’s creations, the Honjo Masamune is considered to be his finest. It’s not clear who the sword was made for, but one of its earliest owners—and the man who contributed the first half of its name—was a warrior by the name of Honjo Shigenaga. The story goes that Shigenaga was attacked in a battle by a warrior wielding the blade. He was hit on the head and the sword cracked his helmet in half. But he quickly retaliated, killing his attacker and taking the prized weapon for himself.

Read the whole thing.

If you are interested in more on Masamune blades, the first Masamune sword to be positively identified in 150 years was certified in 2014.

Discussion

2 responses to ‘Mystery of the Honjo Masamune – the Lost Sword

  1. My next-door neighbor, growing up, had a katana his son had sent him from the war. I admired it, but was too young to appreciate it.

    “The story goes that Shigenaga was attacked in a battle by a warrior wielding the blade. He was hit on the head and the sword cracked his helmet in half. But he quickly retaliated, killing his attacker and taking the prized weapon for himself.” I have to wonder how great the blade was if it only cracked his helmet and not his skull.

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