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Encyclopedia > Kusanagi
Part of the series on
Japanese mythology

Religions  · Divinities
Creatures & Spirits
Stories and Myths
Kojiki  · Kwaidan
Nihon Shoki  · Otogizōshi
Yotsuya Kaidan
Legendary Figures
Abe no Seimei  · Hidari Jingorō
Kintarō  · Kuzunoha  · Momotarō
Nezumi Kozō  · Tamamo-no-Mae
Tomoe Gozen  · Urashima Tarō
Sacred Objects
Amenonuhoko  · Kusanagi
Sesshō-seki  · Tonbogiri
Three Sacred Treasures
Mythical & Sacred Locations
Hōrai  · Mount Hiei
Mt. Fuji  · Rashōmon
Ryūgū-jō  · Suzakumon
Takamagahara  · Yomi
Japanese Mythology

Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (草薙の剣?) is a legendary Japanese sword as important to Japan's history as Excalibur is to Britain's, and is one of three Imperial Regalia of Japan. It is actually called Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (天叢雲剣, "Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven") but it is more popularly called Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi. It is also called Tsumugari-no-Tachi (都牟刈の太刀). The actual Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi is likely to be a jian-type sword in the style of the Bronze Age which is typically double-edged, short, and straight; very different from the more recent katana backsword style, which features typical curved single-edged blades. Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... The Kusanagi (Japanese ) is a legendary sword in Japanese mythology. ... Japanese mythology is a very complex system of beliefs that embraces Shinto and Buddhist traditions as well as agriculture-based folk religion. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Amaterasu_cave_wide. ... This is a list of divinities native to Japanese beliefs and religious traditions. ... The following is a list of yōkai, obake, yÅ«rei and other legendary creatures which are notable in Japanese folklore, mythology, literature and art. ... Japanese mythology is a very complex system of beliefs that embraces Shinto and Buddhist traditions as well as agriculture-based folk religion. ... Kojiki or Furukotofumi (古事記), also known in English as the Records of Ancient Matters, is the oldest surviving historical book recounting events of ancient earth in the Japanese language. ... Nihonshoki (日本書紀) is the second oldest history book about the ancient history of Japan. ... Illustration from otogizōshi tale, published c. ... Yotsuya Kaidan (四つ谷怪談) is a Japanese ghost story. ... Abe no Seimei ) (921?-1005?) was an onmyoji, a leading specialist of onmyodo during the middle of the Heian Period in Japan. ... The Famous, the Unrivalled Hidari Jingorō (Meiyo migi ni teki nashi Hidari Jingorō); by Utagawa Kuniyoshi Hidari Jingorō ) was a Japanese artist, sculptor and carpenter, active from 1596-1644. ... This article is about the Japanese folklore hero; for the Mortal Kombat character, see Kintaro (Mortal Kombat character). ... kitsune of folklore. ... Bisque doll of Momotarō Momotarō (桃太郎) is a hero from Japanese folklore. ... Nezumi Kozō (鼠小僧) was the nickname of one Jirokichi (次郎吉 d. ... Tamamo-no-Mae (玉藻前) is a legendary figure in Japanese mythology. ... A woodblock print of Tomoe Gozen in battle. ... Urashima Tarō ) is a Japanese fairy tale about a fisherman who rescues a turtle and is rewarded with a visit to the RyÅ«gÅ«-jō, the Dragon Palace. ... The following is a list of sacred objects in Japanese mythology. ... Ame-no-nuboko ) is the name given to the naginata in Japanese mythology used to raise the primordial land-mass, Onōgoro-shima, from the sea. ... The Sessho-seki (Japanese: 殺生石), or Killing Stone, is an object in Japanese mythology. ... The Tonbogiri ) is one of three legendary spears created by the famed swordsmith Masamune, said to be wielded by the daimyo Honda Tadakatsu. ... The Imperial Regalia of Japan ), also known as the Three Sacred Treasures, consist of the sword, Kusanagi (草薙劍), the jewel or necklace of jewels, Yasakani no magatama (八尺瓊曲玉), and the mirror Yata no kagami (八咫鏡). Also known as the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, the regalia represent the three primary virtues: valor (the... Mount Hiei (Jp. ... Mount Fuji (富士山 Fuji-san, IPA: [ɸuʝisaɴ]) is the highest mountain on the island of Honshu and indeed in all of Japan. ... Marker at site of Rashōmon The Rashōmon (羅生門 or 羅城門 Rajōmon;the castle gate) was formerly the grandest of the two city gates of the Japanese city of Kyoto during the Heian period. ... In Japanese mythology, RyÅ«gÅ«-jō (竜宮城) is the undersea palace of RyÅ«jin, the dragon god of the sea. ... The Suzakumon Gate was the main gate of the imperial palace in the Japanese ancient capital of Fujiwarakyō, Nara, and later Kyoto. ... Takama-ga-hara (Japanese: 高天原), or The High Plain of Heaven, is a place in Japanese mythology. ... This article is about the location in japanese mythology. ... Swiss longsword, 15th or 16th century Look up Sword in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see Excalibur (disambiguation). ... The Imperial Regalia of Japan ), also known as the Three Sacred Treasures, consist of the sword, Kusanagi (草薙劍), the jewel or necklace of jewels, Yasakani no magatama (八尺瓊曲玉), and the mirror Yata no kagami (八咫鏡). Also known as the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, the regalia represent the three primary virtues: valor (the... Tachi forged by Bishu Osafune Sukesada, 12th year of the Eishô era, a day in February (1515, Muromachi). ... For the novel of the same name, see Eric Van Lustbader. ... The Bronze Age is a period in a civilizations development when the most advanced metalworking has developed the techniques of smelting copper from natural outcroppings and alloys it to cast bronze. ... For other uses, see Katana (disambiguation). ... 19th century French Navy officer sabre A backsword is a sword having a blade with only one edge. ...


Legends

The history of the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi extends into legend. According to Kojiki, the Japanese god Susa-no-o encountered a grieving family of kunitsukami ("gods of the land") headed by Ashinazuchi (足名椎?) in Izumo province. When Susa-no-o inquired of Ashinazuchi, he told him that his family was being ravaged by the fearsome Yamata-no-Orochi, an eight-headed serpent of Koshi, who consumed seven of the family's eight daughters and that the creature was coming for his final daughter, Kushinada-hime (奇稲田姫?). Susa-no-o investigated the creature, and after an abortive encounter he returned with a plan to defeat it. In return, he asked for Kushinada-hime's hand in marriage, which was agreed. Transforming her temporarily into a comb (one interpreter reads this section as "using a comb he turns into [masquerades as] Kushinada-hime") to have her company during battle, he detailed his plan into steps. Kojiki or Furukotofumi (古事記), also known in English as the Records of Ancient Matters, is the oldest surviving historical book recounting events of ancient earth in the Japanese language. ... Susanoo, (Japanese: 須佐之男命, Susa-no-O-no-Mikoto; also romanized as Susanoo, Susa-no-O, and Susanowo) in Shinto is the god of the sea and storms. ... Izumo (Japanese: 出雲国; Izumo no kuni) was an old province of Japan which today consists of the eastern part of Shimane prefecture in the Chugoku region. ... Susanoo slaying the Yamata no Orochi, by Toyohara Chikanobu “Orochi” redirects here. ... Koshi Province in map of Japan For other places named Koshi, see Koshi (disambiguation). ...


He instructed the preparation of eight vats of sake (rice wine) to be put on individual platforms positioned behind a fence with eight gates. The monster took the bait and put each of its heads through each gate. With this distraction, Susa-no-o attacked and slew the beast. He chopped off each head and then proceeded to the tails. In the fourth tail, he discovered a great sword inside the body of the serpent which he called Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, which he presented to the goddess, Amaterasu to settle an old grievance. Sake barrels at Itsukushima Shrine. ... The Sun goddess emerging out of a cave, bringing sunlight back to the universe. ...


Generations later, in the reign of the Twelfth Emperor, Keikō, the sword was given to the great warrior, Yamato Takeru as part of a pair of gifts given by his aunt, Yamatohime the Shrine Maiden of Ise Shrine, to protect her nephew in times of peril. Emperor Keikō (景行天皇 Keikō Tennō) was the twelfth imperial ruler of Japan to appear on the traditional list of emperors. ... Yamato Takeru subjugates Kumaso Takeru. ... Ise Shrine (Ise-jingÅ« 伊勢神宮; alternately Grand Shrines of Ise or Ise DaijingÅ« 伊勢大神宮) is a shrine to Shinto goddess Amaterasu ōmikami, located in the city of Ise in Mie prefecture, Japan. ...


These gifts came in handy when Yamato Takeru was lured onto an open grassland during a hunting expedition by a treacherous warlord. The lord had fiery arrows to ignite the grass and trap Yamato Takeru in the field so that he would burn to death. He also killed the warrior's horse to prevent his escape. Desperately, Yamato Takeru used the Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi to cut back the grass and remove fuel from the fire, but in doing so, he discovered that the sword enabled him to control the wind and cause it to move in the direction of his swing. Taking advantage of this magic, Yamato Takeru used his other gift, fire strikers, to enlarge the fire in the direction of the lord and his men, and he used the winds controlled by the sword to sweep the blaze toward them. In triumph, Yamato Takeru renamed the sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (lit. "Grasscutter Sword") to commemorate his narrow escape and victory. Eventually, Yamato Takeru married and later fell in battle with a monster, after ignoring his wife's advice to take the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi with him.


While this is the most popular theory of how the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi got its name, researchers agree that it is most likely false. In the ancient Japanese language, kusa meant "sword" and nagi meant "snake". Thus, an alternative theory is that Kusanagi meant "sword of the snake".


Present State of Kusanagi

Although the sword is mentioned in the Kojiki, this book is a collection of Japanese myths and is not considered a historical document. The first reliable historical mention of the sword is in the Nihonshoki. Although the Nihonshiki also contains mythological stories that are not considered reliable history, it records some events that were contemporary or nearly contemporary to its writing, and these sections of the book are considered historical. In the Nihonshoki, the Kusanagi was removed from the Imperial palace in 688, and moved to Atsuta Shrine after the sword was blamed for causing Emperor Temmu to fall ill. Along with the jewel and the mirror, it is one of the three imperial regalia of Japan, the sword representing the virtue of valor. Kojiki or Furukotofumi (古事記), also known in English as the Records of Ancient Matters, is the oldest surviving historical book recounting events of ancient earth in the Japanese language. ... Nihonshoki (Japanese: 日本書紀), sometimes translated as Chronicles of Japan, is the second oldest book of classical Japanese history. ... Nihonshoki (Japanese: 日本書紀), sometimes translated as Chronicles of Japan, is the second oldest book of classical Japanese history. ... Events Emperor Justinian II of the Bulgarians. ... Atsuta Shrine Atsuta Shrine ) is a Japanese Shinto shrine in Atsuta-ku, Nagoya. ... Emperor Temmu (天武天皇 Tenmu Tennō) (c. ... Magatama Magatama(Japanese: 勾玉), are curved beads which first appeared in Japan during the Jomon period. ... The Imperial Regalia of Japan ), also known as the Three Sacred Treasures, consist of the sword, Kusanagi (草薙劍), the jewel or necklace of jewels, Yasakani no magatama (八尺瓊曲玉), and the mirror Yata no kagami (八咫鏡). Also known as the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, the regalia represent the three primary virtues: valor (the...


Kusanagi is allegedly kept at Atsuta shrine to this day, although it is not available for public display, and its existence cannot be confirmed. It is recorded that during the Edo period, a Shinto priest claimed to have seen the sword. According to him, the sword was about 84 cm long, shaped like calamus, fashioned in a white metallic color, and well maintained. Another record claims that this priest died from the curse and the power of the sword, but this is most likely a story that was spread to emphasize its power. The Edo period ), also called Tokugawa period, is a division of Japanese history running from 1603 to 1868. ... Binomial name L. Calamus or Common Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus) is a plant from the Acoraceae family, Acorus genues. ...


In recent times, Japan's nationally run broadcasting station, NHK, went to Atsuta Shrine to videotape the sword. However, the priests declined to present it, although they did not deny its existence.[citation needed] NHK Broadcasting Center in Shibuya, Tokyo NHK (, Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai), or the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, is Japans public broadcaster. ...


Although some sword may be held by the Atsuta shrine, it is somewhat unlikely to be the legendary Kusanagi. In The Tale of the Heike, a collection of oral stories transcribed in 1371, the sword is lost at sea after the defeat of the Heike clan in the Battle of Dan-no-ura, a naval battle that ended in the defeat of the Heike clan forces and the child Emperor Antoku at the hands of Minamoto no Yoshitsune. In the tale, upon hearing of the Navy's defeat, the Emperor's grandmother led the Emperor and his entourage to commit suicide by drowning in the waters of the strait along with the three imperal regalia, including Kusanagi. Although the Minamoto troops managed to stop a handful of them and recovered two of the three regalia, Kusanagi was said to have been lost forever. Although written about historical events, The Tale of the Heike is a collection of epic poetry passed down orally and written down nearly 200 years after the actual events, so its reliability as a historical document is questionable. The Tale of the Heike (Japanese: 平家物語, Heike monogatari) is an epic account of the struggle between the Minamoto and Taira clans for control of Japan at the end of the 12th century. ... Events End of the reign of Emperor Go-Kogon of Japan, fourth of the Northern Ashikaga Pretenders Start of the reign of Emperor Go-Enyu of Japan, fifth and last of the Northern Ashikaga Pretenders Charterhouse Carthusian Monastery founded in Aldersgate, London. ... Taira (平) is a Japanese surname. ... The Battle of Dan-no-ura, more commonly known as Dan-no-ura no Tatakai (壇ノ浦の戦い), was a major sea battle of the Genpei War, occurring at Dan_no_ura, in the Shimonoseki Strait off the southern tip of Honshu. ... Taira (平) is a Japanese surname. ... Emperor Antoku (安徳天皇 Antoku Tennō) (December 22, 1178 – April 25, 1185) was the 81st imperial ruler of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. ... Yoshitsune by Kikuchi Yosai Yoshitsune and Benkei Viewing Cherry Blossoms, by Yoshitoshi Tsukioka Minamoto no Yoshitsune () (1159 – June 15, 1189) was a general of the Minamoto clan of Japan in the late Heian and early Kamakura period. ... The Tale of the Heike (Japanese: 平家物語, Heike monogatari) is an epic account of the struggle between the Minamoto and Taira clans for control of Japan at the end of the 12th century. ...


According to some records, the Tenth Emperor, Emperor Sujin, is reported to have ordered the fashioning of a replica of Kusanagi. However, this information was reportedly only made public after it was known that the sword had been stolen. The imperial household claimed that it was the replica which was stolen, but it is just as likely that the replica was made after the fact to replace the irrecoverable sword. It should be noted that Emperor Sujin is considered a "legendary Emperor" by historians, because of a lack of sufficient evidence to assign him to a historical period. Emperor Sujin (崇神天皇 Sujin Tennō) was the tenth imperial ruler of Japan to appear on the traditional list of emperors. ...


Another story holds that the sword was reportedly stolen again in the sixth century by a Chinese monk. However, his ship allegedly sank at sea, allowing the sword to wash ashore at Ise, where it was recovered by Shinto priests. Given the somewhat fantastic nature of this story, its historical accuracy is questionable.


Due to the refusal of Shinto priests to show the sword, and the rather sketchy nature of its historical references, the current state of or even the existence at all of the sword as a historical artifact cannot be confirmed.


In popular culture

Much like Excalibur, Kusanagi's high profile has made it popular, appearing in various works of fiction. Its appearance typically signals the nearing of an end of the storyline. But unlike Excalibur, it is rare for characters to actually use one in a combat as it is a ceremonial weapon. Instead, its magical properties are stressed. It is sometimes misrepresented as a katana, because it is a Japanese weapon.


In Okami, a game for the Playstation 2 system, a warrior belonging to the Oina tribe by the name of Oki plucks the sword Kusanagi from a pedestal in much the same fashion as the Excalibur legend is told. Oki, who seeks to protect his village, uses the sword recklessly, fighting anyone he comes across in order to release the sword's true power (it is said that the sword will glow silver and be able to vanquish any demon). However, he is unable to activate the sword until he uses it to aid a wounded ally, rather than fight for personal gain. In the same game there is a character named Susano who slays the eight-headed snake Orochi, however, the sword he uses is called Tsukuyomi, which is the Shinto God of the Moon. Ōkami (大神 in Japanese) is a cel-shaded video game developed by Clover Studio that will be coming coming for the PS2 sometime in late 2005 or 2006. ... PS2 redirects here. ... Tsukuyomi (月読の命 or 月夜見の尊, Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto), also known as Tsukuyomi-no-kami, is a god of uncertain gender (referred to as a male kami here) of the moon in Shinto and Japanese mythology. ...


In the popular Japanese manga Naruto a villian named Orochimaru is able to procure the Kusanagi sword from a snake that comes out of his mouth. Serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump Shonen Jump BANZAI! Shonen Jump Weekly Comic Original run November 1999 – Ongoing No. ...


In the american comic Usagi Yojimbo there is a story arc named Grasscutter I & II heavily influenced by Kusanagi no Tsurugi's story. Usagi Yojimbo lit. ...


In Kyuden, an fictional novel by Jonathan Holburt, a man called Scott tries to stole the three sacred item for helping a man to become the rightful emperor,


  Results from FactBites:
 
Legend - Kusanagi Sword (615 words)
The Kusanagi sword is the sword that Orochimaru pulled out of the snake in his stomach.
Kusanagi means grasscutter, which would explain the pun of the sword finally killing Sandaime.
Eventually, the sword came into the possession of the emperor until the Battle of Dannoura, a naval battle that ended in the defeat of the forces of the child Emperor, Antoku at the hands of Minomoto Yoshitsune.
GundamOfficial :: Cosmic Era :: Gundam Seed :: Mechanics :: Kusanagi (118 words)
The second ship of the Izumo class, which was created to travel between the resource satellite Heliopolis, and the Orb homeland.
Only the Kusanagi's central module travels in and out of Earth's atmosphere, and once in orbit it docks with the other modules to form a full-sized warship.
When the Orb Union falls to the Earth Alliance, the Kusanagi carries Cagalli Yula Athha and her comrades into space, and it goes on to become the mothership of Orb's remaining M1 Astray mobile suit forces.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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