Chapter 1.@ The Origins of the Japanese Ppeople.


Non-Japanese people probably think of the katana only in relation to the samurai.

However, we Japanese know the sword as a symbol of Japanese traditional culture.

As mentioned earlier, the three facets of the Japanese sword are functionality,

spirituality and beauty. Of these, function applies only to the samurai whilst the

spirituality and the beauty also apply to the average Japanese person. This spirituality

and beauty together is @probably best referred to as sanctity.


In the sixth year of Bunsei (1822), a book entitled Token Seiryoku was published. It was

the same year that Dr Seibold of Holland came to Japan. At that time there were many

sword appreciation groups.

The participants were not only members of the samurai class, but , townsfolk, peasants

and all levels of people participated. This was because there is no connection between

class and the sword.@ AThe author Okazaki Nobuzane wrote, gBefore the sword there are no

two things.h Nowadays this is more commonly said as, gBefore the katana everyone is

@equal.h@ The social system of samurai, farmers, artisans and merchants were all seen

as equal before the sword, as the origins of the sword and the origins of the Japanese are

the same.


Why would people of all different backgrounds feel that the sword is the origin of the

Japanese people? In the imperial court of the Heian period before the samurai emerged,

there was a ceremony called Ohomu Mafuri. It took place close to the winter solstice for

the emperor and empress. At this ceremony, a wand with ten strands called a hire ris

waved to raise their spirit, as it was thought that at the winter solstice the power of the

sun was at its weakest. The objects of the imperial regalia are the jewel, the mirror and

the sword. Ancient Japanese thought that by having the hire waved over them they

could absorb the power of the spirits. They also believed that it could cure illness, and it

is said that at times it had brought people back from the dead.



Hire\a wand with ten fluttering strands of silk like the robes of thea goddess

Ohomu Mafuri is a ceremony to pray for purification and protection of the country by

the spirits.



Incidentally, swords of the Kofun, Nara and early Heian periods were straight blades. Swords referred to as nNihonto (swords with curvature) appeared in the late Heian, Kamakura period and onwards. These are all generally referred to as token. However, nihonto generally refers to the curved blade variety. Furthermore, samurai of the Gempei battles would wear their swords suspended from the hip. Blades worn in this fashion are called tachi. However the swords of the Sengoku period worn with the blades thrust through the sash with the cutting edge uppermost are referred to as uchigatana.


There are no indigenous Japanese characters for the word tachi\the characters from the original Chinese are used. There were no original Japanese characters that were applicable at the time, so all blades from tachi to uchigatana are referred to as nihonto.



A little more on hire, in later years the soldiers of the Gempei battles would fly white and red flags as a representation of the sleeve of the goddessfs kimono. It remains to this day in the form of the carp streamers flown during May. This is also where the custom of paying a Shinto priest to wave the hire comes from.


Even now during funeral ceremonies, an omamori-gatana (spiritually protective sword) is placed upon the casket of the deceased to protect them on their way to the next world. This custom dates back to the Kofun period. Since these early times the sword was a symbol of spirituality. Swords have been found placed at the side of the deceased in excavated tombs. It was believed that the power of the sword would guide them to rebirth. Later, the belief became that the sword that would protect the deceased in the afterlife. Nowadays a symbolic representation of a sword is used.@ Todayfs young samurai should, for their family and loved ones, keep a real sacred tanto for such occasions.@


Sugiyama Hideo



Budo Tsushin


(Preview) Chapter 2 Purification by fire and water becoming godly.


Osafune and so on, there are many National Treasures, one other rank is Important Cultural Property. Additionally, there are swords that cannot be ranked. The same smiths such a gap is a wonder? Why is this? This is because the Japanese sword is passed through fire. Our ancestors thought that although it is made by man from natural resources, that the gods were born from it.