Famous Samurai Swords
This page is a partial list of the most famous samurai swords, ordered by name of the owner. Most of those listed belonged to several owners during their history, and are today designated as National Treasures. In addition, note that while a given sword may be identified with a given historical figure, any given figure owned and used multiple swords over the course of their lives.
When a picture is not available, there is an oshigata, a professional drawing showing the details of the blade. Historical accuracy here is sometimes flexible due to the high esteem Japanese often hold for these items. Nicknames always refers to the sword, never to the smith.
- The Ashikaga clan sword, Ebina Kokaiji: made in Yamashiro province by Sanjô Kokaiji Munechika (Heian period). The sword is 29.7cm in length, and was later owned by the Toyotomi clan, and then recovered from Osaka castle by the Tokugawa shogunate. Extant today in the collection of the Tokugawa Art Museum.
- Ashikaga Yoshiteru's sword : made by Osafune Nagamitsu (active 1264-1319). National Treasure. Nicknamed Daihannya (Great Wisdom Personified); changed hands several times as booty, reward or valued present. Amongst its owners were Miyoshi Chokei, Miyoshi Yoshitsugu, Oda Nobunaga, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Okudaira Nobumasa, and then the Matsudaira clan. Oshigata
- Chiyoganemaru - Japanese blade refitted with Ryukyuan furniture; associated with the royal family of the Ryûkyû Kingdom. National Treasure.
- Fudô Masamune, a Kamakura period tantô given by Maeda Toshinaga to Tokugawa Ieyasu, who in turn gave it to the Owari Tokugawa clan. It is now in the collection of the Tokugawa Art Museum.
- Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane, a 13th century uchigatana by the Kamakura period swordsmith Sukezane. Given to Tokugawa Ieyasu as a gift from Katô Kiyomasa; now held at Nikkô Tôshôgû. National Treasure.
- Ii Naomasa's sword: made by Rai Kunimitsu (third head of the Rai school, debated if Jirôbe or Beijô, active from 1312 or 1350) Picture
- Jiganemaru (治金丸) - a sword associated with the royal family of the Ryûkyû Kingdom. According to the Kyûyô, it was presented to King Shô Shin by Nakasone Tuyumya of Miyakojima in 1522. The unsigned 15th century blade and the 17th century black lacquered furniture are believed to have been made in Japan; the hilt is wrapped in sharkskin, and the kozuka are decorated with designs of auspicious clouds. Today, held in the Naha City Museum of History.
- A blade by Kunimune held at Terukuni Shrine in Kagoshima. Given to the shrine by Shimazu Tadashige in 1927, it is the only National Treasure held in Kagoshima prefecture.
- Kuroda Josui Yoshitaka's sword: made by Hasebe Kunishige (active 1334). National Treasure. This was amongst Oda Nobunaga's favorite swords. Picture
- Kusunoki Masashige's sword: made by Osafune Kagemitsu (active 1321). Nicknamed Koryû ("little dragon"). National Treasure. Picture
- Emperor Meiji's (favorite) sword : made by Ayanokoji Sadatoshi (active 1232). National Treasure. Picture
- Minamoto (Gen San I) Yorimasa's sword : unknown maker, nicknamed Shishiô, roughly translated "Lion's King." Mounting
- Minamoto no Yorimitsu's sword : made by Hoki Yasutsuna Daidô (active 806 - questioned) nicknamed Dôjigiri Yasutsuna ("Monster-Cutter Yasutsuna"). National Treasure. Picture
- Minamoto no Yoshimitsu's (Shinra Saburô's) sword: made by Ohara Sanemori (796-861; date debated) Picture
- A blade called Nobeoka Mitsutada, forged around 1220 in Nobeoka, in modern-day Miyazaki prefecture. Long owned by the Naitô family of Nobeoka, it is believed stolen in 1946, and remains listed today on the FBI's National Stolen Art File.
- Oda Nobunaga's sword, used by his son Oda Nobuo to fight Okada Sukesaburô at the battle of Nagakute. Made by Ichimonji Yoshifusa (active 1219). National Treasure. Nicknamed Okadagiri. Oshigata
- Sanada Gentarôzaemon no Jô Nobutsuna's sword : made by Bitchû no kuni (Junin) Moritsugu, dated Enbun roku-nen ni-gatsu (1561 2nd Month). Picture
- Shôtoku Taishi's sword : very early work, date debated. Horimono (carvings) gave it its nickname, "Heishishorin." Picture
- Takeda Shingen's (and then Katsuyori's) sword : made by Go Yoshihiro (1299-1325). Oshigata; Mounting: 
- Tokugawa Ieshige and Ieharu's sword: made by Nobukuni (active 1334). This sword is an Ô-tantô, a large dagger. Oshigata
- Tomokirimaru, a sword owned by the man who killed the father of the Soga brothers; in some versions of the story, he obtained this sword by stealing it from their father.
- A sword called Torigai Kunitoshi, made in the Kamakura period and lost in the battle of Sekigahara; it was recovered by Tomita Nobutaka, who gave it as a gift to Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1601. Ieyasu then gave the sword to the Owari Tokugawa clan, and it remains today in the Tokugawa Art Museum.
- The Toyotomi clan sword Ichigo Hitofuri, made by the Kamakura period smith Yoshimitsu. Recovered after the Osaka Campaigns by Tokugawa Ieyasu.
- The Toyotomi clan sword Nansen, made by the Kamakura period smith Ichimonji. Recovered after the Osaka Campaigns by Tokugawa Ieyasu.
- Morgan Pitelka. "Art, Agency, and Networks in the Career of Tokugawa Ieyasu." in A Companion to Asian Art and Architecture. Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, 460.
- Gallery labels, Naha City Museum of History.
- Morgan Pitelka, Spectacular Accumulation, University of Hawaii Press (2016), 89.
- "Rai Kunimitsu, Sword Blade," gallery label, LACMA.
- Naha City Museum of History, Digital Museum, 2015.
- "Terukuni jinja," Shimazu-ke ga hagukunda bunka, Shôkoshûseikan official website.
- FBI - NSAF - Nobeoka Mitsutada
- Constantine Vaporis, "A Hero for the Masses: The Kabuki Play Sukeroku: Flower of Edo (1713)," in Vaporis (ed.), Voices of Early Modern Japan, Westview Press (2012), 195-196.; James Brandon. Kabuki: Five Classic Plays. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1992. pp49-92.
- Pitelka, 81.