Amakuni’s Kogarasu-maru
The Swordsmith Amakuni is credited with making the first curved Japanese sword, a blade which makes him in essence the father of the modern Japanese sword. Created in 701 A.D. the blade was called Kogarasu-maru or “Little Crow” so-named because the shape of the tip was reminiscent of the beak of a crow.Tradition tells us that Amakuni and his son watched as the Emperor and his disheartened warriors returned from battle many of them holding the remnants of swords that had broken in the fray. The Emperor who’s habit it was to greet the smith as he passed snubbed him on this occasion. Amakuni inspected the faulty weapons and swore an oath that he would make a sword that would not break and so regain the Emperor’s favor.Amakuni and his son cloistered themselves in their forge and prayed to the Shinto gods for the knowledge to make the perfect sword. After some time they emerged with a sword that curved slightly and had only one edge. These new weapons were provided to the emperors men and when the warriors returned from their battles the following summer, none were broken. The Emperor made a point of stopping at Amakuni’s forge to praise the smith for his innovative work.  What Amakuni is said to have developed is a style of sword that was hard enough to hold an edge but flexible enough not to break or shatter, the paradoxical combination needed for a good blade.There are three extant Kogarau-maru blades that are considered Imperial Treasures. The originals praises are sung in the ancient text MAN YOSHU or “Collection of 10,000
Leaves” – ca. 750. Kogarasa-maru Sword
2 Shaku 6.5 Bu
701 A.D.

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