The Norimitsu Odachi is showcased in its whole grandeur at the Kibitsu Shrine in the Okayama Prefecture. The colossal sword has fascinated Japan and its international visitors with its size and magnificence. The Norimitsu is so extensive, legends have asserted that the weaponry was once manufactured and wielded by a giant warrior. 12.37 feet long and 31.97 lbs in weight, other than its measurements, the exact origins of the Norimitsu Odachi continue to be shrouded in occultism.
A Glimpse into the Enigmatic Norimitsu Odachi
Samurais have been a component of Japanese culture since the commencement of the tenth century. They were fearsome warriors who swore oaths to defend their respective clans. One of the subjects they were most renowned for was their chief weapon of selection: the sword.
There are a wide variety of blades designed by the experienced swordsmiths of Japan. The katana is, externally a doubt, the most popular due to its attachment to the samurai. A lesser-known classical Japanese sword is the Odachi, which changes to a “large/great sword.” The weapon requires a blade length of 3 shaku, though some records of blades reach around 6.56 feet in length to be classified as an odachi.
The idea behind the Odachi
The Odachi operated either as ceremonial objectives or infantry swords. As a contribution to a shrine’s patron gods, some Odachi were employed to offer the gods to guard warriors in combat. Others were exhibited in temples as mythological figures.
As a ceremonial article, the composition of the Odachi was at an all-time high throughout the Edo period, where it was practiced in various traditions. Researchers had also asserted that the Odachi had a more “ritualistic” role in the war. It is similar to flags during a battle.
The Odachi was also a weapon of choice during the fourteenth century, precisely the Nanboku-chō period. This claim is supported by literary works like the Heike Monogatari and the Taiheiki. As a weapon for battle, the Odachi’s large dimension proved to be a difficulty. It was considered that samurai would take it on their back or by hand. Throughout the Muromachi era, samurais would have their supporters seize the massive sword to serve it during battle. Foot soldiers were more inclined to carry the sword hung across their spines than katanas typically held on the side.
Fumon Tanaka, a legendary Japanese martial arts practitioner, employs a unique drawing procedure for a “shorter” Odachi. It includes pulling out the sheath rather than moving the actual blade. Swordsmanship institutions around the country have embraced this method, Iaidō, and the Shin musō Hayashizaki-ryū.
Production and Downfall
Forging the Odachi determined to be no easy feat. Their length made heat therapy more complicated due to its value and technique. Polishing was quite the test too. Because of their size, the Odachi must be hung from the ceiling or deliberately placed in a stationary position to be polished. Standard swords are merely moved over polishing stones.
The Odachi’s reverence dwindled after the 1615 Siege of Osaka (Osaka Natsu no Jin), in which the Tokugawa Shogunate demolished the Toyotomi clan. The damage was said to be due to the Shogunal government banning swords above a standard length. Odachi swordsmiths were made to cut down the range to adhere to the standards.
Authenticity behind the Norimitsu Odachi
Everyone agrees that if the sword honestly had an owner who took it out to battle, they would have been a titan of unproportionate propositions. However, if one were to ignore mythology and folklore, it seems like the Norimitsu odachi was nothing more significant than a ceremonial sword forged by a skillful craftsman. Whoever was at the back of the forging of this beautiful weapon certainly desired to showcase their skills, wealth, for that matter.