500 year old katana found in shrine’s “attic”

katana found in attic

(via JapanForward)

My attic is only full of cellulose insulation and vacuum bags of old clothes. It hasn’t produced so much as a small knife, let alone a 500 year old samurai sword. The attic of the Kasuga Taisha shrine is much, much cooler than mine.

From JapanForward.com:

The sword appears to be in very good condition, showing little evidence of use and remains close to its original state. After repolishing and appraisal, it has been attributed to the Ko-Hoki School. The accompanying Kuro-urushi- yamagane (black lacquered mountain iron) tachi mountings are thought to date from the fourteenth century. The sword is believed to have been dedicated to the shrine sometime during the Nanboku-cho (1336-1392) and early Muromachi (1336-1573) periods.

The blade is unsigned, but as it bears a close resemblance to the famous Doji-giri sword in the Tokyo National Museum by the Ko-Hoki mastersmith Yasutsuna, and it is thought that it could be his work as well. The Doji-giri is known historically as one of the Five Greatest Swords Under Heaven. Motoki Sakai of the Tokyo National Museum said that the sword discovered at Kasuga Taisha “is a very important example of work of the period in excellent condition.”

The blade was given to a Master sword-polisher for restoration.

The sword was sent for restoration to polisher Koshu Hon’ami, who is a Living National Treasure. Hon’ami has re-polished the sword back to its original splendor. The Hon’ami family is said to have been sword polishers and appraisers since as far back as the Kamakura Period, and were later employed by the Tokugawa Shogunate in the Edo Period. They also issued appraisal certificates and valuations for important swords, as well as compiling various sword compendiums.

That work complete, the sword will now be put on display.




  1. Sam L. says:


  2. Pete says:

    Looking at the picture, does the sword have an unusually long blade?
    Either way would I be correct in assuming that it was a ceremonial item?
    I have very limited knowledge of Japanese sword history and wonder of the blade was preserved by virtue of being “lost” rather than being shortened to a more fashionable length later.

    1. Hanzo says:

      No, not unusually long. If over 29-30″ (from kissaki to mune) it would be considered a Tachi, or No-Dachi, instead of a Katana, both used when on horseback. It has not been shortened as the tang looks to be original length (swords are, obviously, shortened by cutting off from back of blade).

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    I need Japanese steel.
    Why do you need Japanese steel?
    I have vermin.
    You must have a big rat to need Hatori Hanzo’s steel.

  4. Pyrthroes says:

    Now for a Doji-Giri blade to sever bonds of illusion like reflections off a temple pool.

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500 year old katana found in shrine’s “attic”

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