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Muramasa Sword: Discovering the Untold Legends

Written By: David Mickov
Published On: October 23, 2022
Edited by: Juliana Cummings

The Muramasa is a Japanese Katana sword known as cursed and demonic. It is a real historical sword surrounded by terrifying legends and stories.

In this article, we will go over its most visual and unique characteristics and compare it to the regular Katana. Then we will see how it is mostly used. We will finish by revealing its real history, as well as its most famous scary legends and stories. 

Characteristics of a Muramasa Sword

Muramasa Sword with Details
Muramasa sword with details

The Muramasa sword is a Japanese sword and blade which resembles and looks like any other Japanese sword. The only distinction is the legendary and mythical elements that were largely fabricated and passed on as folklore.

Blade

The blade of the Muramasa is like any other Japanese blade, just much sharper. It can be from 9.8 to 35-39 inches (25 to 90-100 cm) long, depending on what type of sword it is (Katana, Wakizashi). It is made using the same process as the regular Katana by utilizing tamahagane steel and folding it.

It has a distinct Japanese curve with a one-edged full tang blade and a sharp tip point at the end. It can cut just as strong as any other Katana sword.

If you look at the legendary myths created by ordinary people in Japan at the time, it was said that this blade could cut through anything and anyone. It also had a special ability to wash the blood off the blade by running water from the guard.

Wave Shaped Appearance

This is sometimes called the Muramasa edge. A common characteristic of the Muramasa blades is their wave-shaped structure. Also, the blade’s front and back patterns usually look alike.

The fascinating thing about it is that every sword made by Muramasa contained symmetrical patterns that are exact duplicates of each other.

Guard

The guard of the Muramasa is just like any other Japanese sword too. It is made in a circular fashion and isn’t that big. It protects the user’s hands and offers a good and stable grip.

If seen from the legendary aspect, though, the guard could have been with spikes or even flaming with a very dark aura surrounding it. Usually, the modern types of Muramasa that you’ll find on the market will have an interesting fictional guard too.

Handle

A regular looking Muramasa Sword in its Scabbard
A regular Muramasa sword inside its sheath [Source]

The handle of the Muramasa sword can go from  3.9 to 9.8 – 11 inches (10 to 25 – 30 cm ) long, depending on what type of sword it is since Muramasa can be anything from Wakizashi to a Katana. It is the typical type of Japanese wooden handle wrapped to provide a better and firmer grip.

Engraving

The Muramasa’s biggest and most unique aspect is the engraving under the handle or on the blade itself. You can notice the engraving, or the writing, from the Japanese swordsmith Muramasa. It is written as 村正 in Japanese and called Tanagobara, which resembles a fish belly.

Scabbard

Muramasa Sword on Display
Muramasa sword on display in Tokyo, Japan, with the Muramasa symbol [Source]

The scabbard for the Muramasa is made of wood and is very similar to the scabbard, or Saya, used for all other types of Japanese Katanas. It usually has a tie on its lower half, which is visually appealing and possibly used for wearing on the shoulder or the back.

Weight

The weight of the Muramasa sword can be around 1.5 to 2.8 lbs (700 grams to 1.3 kg) depending, of course, on the type of Muramasa sword. The weight of the Muramasa Katana is the same as a regular Katana, somewhere between 2.4 and 2.8 lbs (1.1 and 1.3 kg).

It is very lightweight, and legends state that it was as light as a feather and could cut clean to the bone through all types of armor.

Length & Size

The length of the Muramasa sword can be around 11.8 to 39 inches (30 cm to 1 meter) long. This is typical for the Japanese samurai swords, especially for the Katana and Wakizashi. However, most of the discovered Muramasa swords are actually shorter and around 27 inches (70 cm) in overall length.

It is a perfect size for both having the ability to be used in close-quarter combat and long-range melee fights. This length is also very good in combination with the curved sword, making it an excellent weapon for slashing and thrusting.

Uses for the Muramasa Sword

Muramasa Uses in Movies
Wolverine from MARVEL using the Muramasa Sword; Wolverine also has blades of Muramasa steel [Source]

During the 15th and 16th centuries, the samurai most often used the Muramasa sword as a regular Katana blade. It was perfect for battle situations and proved very valuable as a one or two-handed weapon. If you decide to own one, you could use it like a normal Katana. 

The biggest usage for it is for display. The name, wicked Katana, is something that every sword enthusiast strives to own. Although it wasn’t anything special, the legends and stories surrounding this sword increase its value. It is used most often in modern movies and LARP games.

Modern Anime & Cinema & Video Games & LARP

If an anime has a medieval samurai type of character, and let’s be honest, most of them do, you will probably have heard of the Muramasa sword. Usually, in animes, they are shown as the strongest and deadliest swords, and users need to pay a toll to use them.

Movies

It is very often seen in movies too. The cursed sword plays a very crucial and interesting aspect of the story regardless of whose hands it will be in. It automatically gives the wielder character a special place and feeling.

Video Games

Muramasa Sword in Video Games
aeMuramasa Sword in Metal Gear Rising

You will see this sword most often in video games. There are countless games where sometimes the whole premise is based on the enemy’s weapon, and everything revolves around it. The Muramasa is often used as that or even sometimes as a weapon that can be obtained and used by the player itself.

LARP & Cosplay

We would like to state that having a quality Muramasa sword can be very expensive if made using the exact same method as that of its creation. There are cheaper replica swords that mostly have fictional blade patterns, handles, and guards.

That said, it is the most used sword in LARP games and cosplay, probably more so than the regular Katana itself. Why have a typical Katana when you can have the scary and cursed Muramasa, surrounded by horrifying legends?

History of the Muramasa Sword

The Curse of the Muramasa Sword
The alleged curse of the Muramasa sword

The origin of the Muramasa sword is believed to be from the Edo period. That is, if the first Muramasa sword was made in 1501, as previously thought. However, this is clearly incorrect since the sword already had a reputation as highly valuable and was used even in the Senkogu and Muromachi periods (a century before).

But it is very hard to determine when the sword finally stopped being used and ceased to exist.

The Creator of the Muramasa Sword

Muramasa is a legendary swordsmith that is also shrouded in a lot of mystery and confusion. Nobody really knows when he was born. All that we know of him are linked with numerous mystical elements that are probably very hard to connect with his actual history.

In the time when Muramasa, the swordsmith, was alive, he had a very good reputation, and his swords were highly sought after. But after his death and the disappearance of his family line, including some strange mishaps, legends started to appear and spread.

Is the Muramasa Sword Real or Fictional?

The Muramasa is a real historical sword, but it has several legends and folklore connected with it. As time passed, tales were added, and today, it is known in history as the wicked and cursed Japanese sword. Some even called it the strongest Katana ever, although this is not the case.

The Muramasa was often used by samurai. The legends around it come from the alleged ban of the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu at the time when his father and grandfather were killed with these swords. However, this story is most likely fabricated because Muramasu is actually their dynasty’s heirloom. That’s why the Muramasa swords were forbidden and either destroyed or had the writing Muramasa removed from them.

Although both Muramasa the sword and the swordsmith are very popular, none of the Muramasa are used or designated as a national treasure or even an important cultural property.

The Mikawa favored the Muramasa sword because it was sharp. (The Mikawa is the Tokugawa dynasty that reigned in Japan for three centuries). Therefore, any unfortunate event that might have happened to them because of the Muramasa is, in effect, because they used the Muramasa sword.

Legend and Stories of the Cursed Muramasa

The scary Muramasa Sword
A bloodlust samurai with a Muramasa [Source]

Many legends and stories surrounding the Muramasa increased its popularity. The stories mainly started after the Shoro era and mostly from Mikawago Fudoki. As time passed, these legends grew as it was passed from person to person.

 Let’s go over some of the most popular ones.

  • Muramasa Sengo’s bloodlust – infamous swordsmith Muramasa had a terrifying bloodlust and rage. He tried to contain it by making the Muramasa sword. Hence the name wicked or cursed sword that would cause uncontrollable bloodlust.
  • Mysterious Charm – it is said that the first Muramasa swords were so beautiful that they evoked ambition for power and authority, hence playing with the wielder’s minds.
  • Cursed Locations – the tales of the Muramasa also state that these swords were made in locations that were haunted by ghosts. However, that is not the case at all. It was made in Kuwana, which is a free-trade port city.
  • Deaths of the Shogunate family – the father, grandfather, son, and heir were all killed with the Muramasa sword. The first two were ‘hacked’ from the shoulder to the waist while the heir was supposed to kill himself with the Muramasa sword.
  • Frenzied Samurai – apparently, a samurai named Matsudaira Geki lost his mind from using the Muramasa. He got into a frenzy, killed his friend, and then killed himself.
  • Knife Dealer – a knife dealer got the Muramasa sword. He then engraved his own name on it while removing the Muramasa symbol. He then realized that he had killed his wife while doing so but had no recollection of it.
  • Measure – When Kotaro Honda was measuring the sharpness of historical and modern swords, he could measure the sharpness point of each sword, except for the Muramasa blade.
  • Thirst for Blood – the Muramasa hungers after blood, especially chopping heads (something that was common in Japan). When it hungered for more blood, it would wash itself by pouring water from the guard.

Keep in mind the legend aspect of these examples. Of course, owning a Muramasa today is safe and risk-free, provided that you treat it as a weapon, not a toy.

Muramasa against the Shogunate

The Muramasa sword was used in the battle in the last stages of the shogunate. The main reason is probably that in the 19th and 18th centuries, the bizarre and sinister events surrounding the Muramasa sword were created, and the legends started appearing.

That is why the Muramasa was the sword used by Japanese patriots. They were using the ‘curse’ of the Tokugawa dynasty against the enemy.

Is the Muramasa the Strongest Japanese Sword?

Execution with the Muramasa Sword
Execution with the Muramasa Sword [Source]

Not really.

The Muramasa sword is known as one of the strongest Japanese Katana swords mainly because of the legendary element connected with it. It was definitely an interesting style made by Muramasa with top-notch quality, but it certainly wasn’t the sword that was deadlier and different from the other Japanese swords.

It is known as a very sharp sword, just like the regular Katana, but the durability of the Muramasa is very low. Modern and past users have remarked that it breaks easily because of its sharpness.

Even in history, when Muramasa, the master swordsmith, was set to compete with other best Japanese swordsmiths, he didn’t show off anything special. 

Conclusion

Today, Muramasa swords are found everywhere and are highly popular. They are probably the most well-known Japanese Katana known as cursed, evil, and with powers of the devil. It is possible that Japan didn’t put a single Muramasa on its list of National Treasures because these legends are so well-known.

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