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The Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi ("Grass-cutting Sword") is a legendary Katana in Japanese myth and one of the Three Imperial Sacred Treasures. It is a symbol of the Japanese emperor's legitimacy to rule and represents valor.

Owners of Note

  • Susano-o - The one who originally discovered the sword and defeated Orochi to obtain it.
  • Amaterasu - Received the sword from Susano-o as an apology.
  • Yamato Takeru - Received the sword from Amaterasu, he also named the sword
  • 40th Emperor Temmu - It was suspected the sword caused his ill-health and subsequent death

Origin

Yamato Takeru statue

A statue of Yamato Takeru with the Kusanagi on his waist.

After slaying Yamato no Orochi, the god Susano-o found this sword in one of the eight tails of the gigantic serpent. It was originally known as  Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi ("Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven"). Susano-o did not hold onto the sword for a long time, however, and gave it away to his sister Amaterasu as an apology which allowed him to return to the gods from his exile.

In time, Amaterasu gave the sword to Yamato Takeru, a young prince either related to her or one of her highest priestesses. During a battle where the grass was set on fire, he used the sword to cut away the burning grass, instead re-directing the fire to his enemies. This resulted in the new name of "Grass-cutting sword."

Modern Counterpart

A duplicate of the Kusanagi no Tsurugi is held in the Atsuta Shrine as a symbolic representative of Amaterasu and the legend. The original sword was lost during the 1185 Naval Battle of Dan-no-ura (壇ノ浦の合戦) between the Minamoto and Taira clans, when it was thrown into the sea.

The Kusanagi is still used during modern enthronement ceremonies of the Japanese Emperor.

References

  1. https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-search-for-kusanagi-no-tsurugi-the-lost-imperial-s-500171708
  2. https://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-other-artifacts/kusanagi-unseen-legendary-japanese-sword-005964
  3. "The Kusanagi Sword" by Nelly Nauman
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