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Dojigiri: The Millennium-Old Katana, Demon-Slayer Now Exhibited in Tokyo National Museum 


Tokyo National Museum is now housing the Dojigiri, a Millennium-Old Katana, that is said to have killed a demon!

Japan treasures its finest swords, with the Five Swords Under Heaven holding the highest prestige. 

Among them is Dojigiri, a legendary katana whispered to slay demons.  Recently displayed in Tokyo’s National Museum, this millennium-old blade bridges the gap between myth and reality.

Dojigiri: Sword That Slayed A Demon Now Being Exhibited At Tokyo National Museum 

In the pantheon of Japanese katanas, a rare handful stand out for their craftsmanship, history, and the legends that surround them. 

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Among these, the esteemed Tenka Goken holds a special place, a remarkable quintet known as the “Five Swords Under Heaven.” 

It is my pleasure to report that one of these blades, shrouded in myths and tales of demon destruction, has found its temporary home at the Tokyo National Museum.

I recently discovered that the Tokyo National Museum has become the custodian of one of these legendary swords. 

The striking Dojigiri, known for its alleged demon-slaying past tied to the Shuten-doji legend, from Kyoto’s Heian period, now resides within the museum’s walls.

Yasutsuna’s Masterpiece: Dojigiri’s Origin

Reflecting on the blade’s history, Yasutsuna, a highly acclaimed swordsmith from what we now recognize as Tottori Prefecture, is credited with forging this exceptional weapon sometime between the 10th and 12th centuries. 

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Despite its age, the Dojigiri’s condition suggests it could have been forged in recent times owing to the careful preservation it has received.

Numerous legends envelope the Dojigiri katana, the most famous involving the demon Shuten-dōji. This katana is believed to have been the blade that put an end to the demon’s reign of terror in Kyoto during the Heian period, earning it the moniker “demon-slayer.”

Historical Significance of the Dojigiri Blade

The Dojigiri is a Japanese katana of immense historical import. It’s one of the “Five Swords Under Heaven,” and its story is interwoven with Japan’s history. 

My research shows that this sword is an emblem of the era when it was forged and has remained a national treasure for centuries.

Legend of Dojigiri

The title of “demon-slaying sword” bestowed upon the Dojigiri originates from its legendary use by the hero Minamoto no Yorimitsu. He is said to have annihilated Shuten-dōji with this blade, thus protecting Kyoto from the demon’s malice.

Legend paints a terrifying picture of Shuten-dōji, a monstrous oni (demon) who preyed on travelers along the Tokaido highway near Kyoto. 

This fearsome creature, often depicted with red or green skin and multiple horns, disrupted trade and instilled fear in the hearts of the people.  Enter Minamoto no Yorimitsu, a legendary samurai warrior renowned for his strength and courage. 

He, along with his loyal retainers, the Shitennō, were tasked with vanquishing the demon.  The climactic battle raged on Mount Oe, where legend says Dojigiri, wielded by Yorimitsu himself, became the key to slaying the monstrous Shuten-dōji.  

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This epic victory earned the sword its infamous name – Dojigiri Yasutsuna, meaning “Doji-slaying Yasutsuna.”

Forging Master Behind the Dojigiri

The esteemed swordsmith Yasutsuna is credited with crafting the Dojigiri. Hailing from the Heian period, Yasutsuna’s skillful hands are responsible for forging what would become one of Japan’s greatest swords, imbued with not just artistry but also a potent historical legacy.

Journey of the Dojigiri

The lineage of its ownership is as significant as its sharpness, with the blade once resting in the hands of influential leaders from the Ashikaga and Tokugawa shogunates, followed by the Echizen Matsudaira and Tsuyama Matsudaira samurai clans. 

Acknowledging its importance, the Japanese government has honored the Dojigiri with a National Treasure designation.

Where is The Dojiri Displayed In The Tokyo National Museum?

I urge sword enthusiasts to visit Room 13 in Building 1, where the sword exudes its centuries-old gleam, its broad and lengthy blade hinting at its legendary demon-slaying capacity.

What’s At Display With The Dojigiri?

The display thoughtfully includes the katana’s scabbard, handle, and handguard, all dating back to the 17th century; an adjacent presentation to allow for appreciation of the complementary artistry.

Preservation Efforts for the Dojigiri Katana

Various measures are employed to preserve the Dojigiri katana. From controlled atmospheric conditions to restricted handling, every effort is made to ensure this millennium-old artifact endures for future appreciation, reflecting Japan’s dedication to maintaining its cultural assets.

A Limited Engagement

The museum continually rotates its exhibits, which means the Dojigiri’s tenure in Room 13, visible since March 5, is a fleeting opportunity for patrons, only until May 26.

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Beyond the Dojigiri

Beyond the Dojigiri, the museum showcases other remarkable katanas, including a 17th-century Kotetsu and a notable Muramasa. The latter has gathered intrigue over the centuries due to rumors of a curse – one supposedly beset upon the Tokugawa family, leading Muramasa blades to be banned under their shogunate.

Visiting the Tokyo National Museum

Located in Taito-ku, the museum welcomes guests from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on most weekdays, with extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Admissions are closed on Mondays, with exceptions on certain holidays.

The Tokyo National Museum doesn’t just house Japanese swords; it’s a treasure trove of historical Japanese art. 

The clock is ticking for those wishing to witness the Dojigiri. For those intrigued by the fusion of history, legend, and exquisite craftsmanship, this is a must-visit destination.

Where are the Public Exhibitions of the Legendary Dojigiri?

The Dojigiri is currently on exhibition at Tokyo Museum. The treasured katana is often displayed in Tokyo museums, allowing visitors to witness its majestic appearance firsthand. The sword’s presence in exhibitions works to both educate the public and celebrate Japanese cultural heritage.

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