Uchiha Sasuke’s sword made its debut in the popular manga Naruto Chapter 308 and the blade’s name was highly debated among fans worldwide. In that chapter which was titled “Sasuke’s Strength”, Yamato Taichou tried to stop Uchiha Sasuke’s sword with his kunai but failed. Instead his kunai was cut in two by Sasuke’s sword. Sasuke later quoted “You see, the sword of Kusanagi I hold here is a little special. It’s the kind that can’t be blocked”. This caused some confusion because readers who have followed the manga since the beginning would know that Orochimaru also had a sword of Kusanagi when he battled it out with the 3rd Hokage, only difference is Orochimaru’s Kusanagi looked more like a katana.
Sasuke’s Sword of Kusanagi is a chokuto which is a straight Japanese sword. The chokuto’s design was originally from China and Korea. It was developed before the Japanese blacksmiths discovered differential heat treatment which later gave birth to the best martial arts weapon ever – the Japanese katana. The chokuto is easily distinguished by its straight blade which is a rare feature in most Japanese swords these days.
The Kusanagi or more popularly known as Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (Sword of Kusanagi) actually had its origin from a Japanese myth. Legend has it the Japanese god Susa-no-o had an encounter with Ashinazuchi, the head of a family with eight daughters. Ashinazuchi previously lost seven of his daughters eaten by a giant eight-headed serpent called Yamata-no-Orochi. The serpent was coming back to feast on his last daughter Kushinade-hime. The desperate Ashinazuchi begged Susa-no-o to save his daughter which the Japanese god agreed in exchange for Kushinade-hime’s hand in marriage.
Susa-no-o devised a plan and instructed Ashinazuchi to prepare eight vats of sake, each placed separately behind a wall with eight gates. The giant serpent came and took bait, slithering each of its eight heads through each gate. In an instance, Susa-no-o emerged and severed all eight heads before turning to the serpent’s tails. Susa-no-o later found a sword inside the Yamata-no-Orochi’s slain body which he named Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi or “Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven”. He then presented the sword to the goddess Amaterasu to settle an old grievance. The sword’s name was later changed to Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi.
In the Naruto manga, Orochimaru calls out the Kusanagi sword from a snake’s mouth (the snake’s head juts out from Orochimaru’s mouth). Orochimaru’s character which is skilled in snake jutsu is actually drawn from the serpent Yamata-no-Orochi. In chapter 392, Orochimaru broke free from Sasuke’s control and used his Hydra technique to reappear as an eight-headed giant serpent. But unlike the story in the myth, Susa-no is the name of the ultimate jutsu that Uchiha Itachi used together with the Sword of Totsuka to seal Orochimaru in an illusion genjutsu for all eternity. The jutsu Susa-no took on the form of a giant spirit with sharp nose, jagged teeth and three hands – one holding a shield, one carrying a container and the remaining hand wielding the Sword of Totsuka when it is released from the container.
Was that an interesting story for you? Many anime and manga titles use Japanese myths as reference to create amazing stories, keeping readers enthralled and coming back for more. An excellent channel to learn more about Japanese cultures and history, don’t you think?
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