The Legendary Swords of the Shogun

3 minute read

The hit TV show 'Shogun' has captivated audiences with its riveting portrayal of the life of 'Yoshii Toranaga' as he journeys to become shogun and unite japan. But did you know that Yoshii Toranaga is based on a true story?Yoshii Toronaga's rise to power closely follows the life of Tokugawa Ieyasu - a legendary shogun who left his mark on Japan for centuries.

Ieyasu was not only a brilliant military leader who united war-torn Japan, ushering in 260 years of peace - he was also a master swordsman with a deep affection for the blades he wielded in battle. Let's take a closer look at three of Ieyasu's most famous swords and the stories behind them.

Monoyoshi Sadamune: Ieyasu's Beloved Companion

Tokugawa Ieyasu's most treasured blade was the Monoyoshi Sadamune, a 13-inch wakazashi crafted in the 14th century by master swordsmith Sadamune. Ieyasu felt this sword brought him good fortune in battle, giving it the name "Monoyoshi" meaning "things go well." Ornately engraved with sacred symbols, Ieyasu carried this blade in every major battle, including his decisive victory at Sekigahara that unified Japan under his rule. The Monoyoshi Sadamune was passed down through the Tokugawa family for generations and is now a designated national treasure displayed at the Tokugawa Art Museum.


Sohayano Tsuruki: A Symbol of Peace and Protection

Originally wielded by Japan's first shogun Sakanoue no Tamuramaro in the 8th century, Ieyasu was gifted a replica of this auspicious sword which he gave the same name as the original -  Sohayano Tsuruki. It served as a symbol of peace and protection for the shogunate. On his deathbed, Ieyasu instructed that Sohayano Tsuruki be enshrined at Kunozan Toshogu Shrine, with the tip facing west to guard against unrest from the European powers. The sword still rests in the shrine today, a symbol of Ieyasu's foresight and Japan's enduring spirit.

Muramasa: The Cursed Blades That Haunted Ieyasu

Muramasa swords, while prized by samurai for their exceptional sharpness, seemed to carry a deadly curse for the Tokugawa clan. Ieyasu lost his grandfather, father, son, and wife to Muramasa blades.

He himself was wounded multiple times by Muramasas in surprise attacks. Realizing the pattern, Ieyasu ultimately banned his retainers from carrying these ill-fated swords.

Each of these legendary swords gives us a glimpse into the tumultuous life and indomitable spirit of Tokugawa Ieyasu. To see Ieyasu's swords and many other priceless artifacts for yourself, plan a visit to the Tokugawa Art Museum and Kunozan Toshogu Shrine.

And for your own collection, browse our stunning selection of authentic, hand-forged wazikeshi swords inspired by the blades of the great shoguns. Bring home a piece of living history today.