Posted By Zoey T. Posted On

Norimitsu Odachi: This Giant 15th-century Japanese Sword Is Still A Mystery!

Forged in one piece, Norimitsu Odachi is a 3.77 meter long sword from Japan that weighs 14.5 kg. Many people can’t help but be confused by this giant weapon, asking questions like who is its owner? And what is the size of the warrior who used this sword to fight?

Odachi Masayoshi was forged by blacksmith Sanke Masayoshi, in 1844. Blade length is 225.43 cm and tang is 92.41 cm. © Artanisen / Wikimedia Commons

In fact, it was so large that it was said that it was used by a giant. In addition to the basics of it being forged in the 15th century AD, measuring 3.77 meters (12.37 ft.) in length and weighing up to 14.5 kg (31.97 lbs.), this impressive sword is sheathed. in mystery .

History of ōdachi

A Covered Nodachi (aka Odachi). It’s a traditional Japanese sword (nihonto) with two large hands © Wikimedia Commons

The Japanese are famous for their sword-making technology. Various swords were created by Japanese swordsmiths, but arguably the one most people are familiar with today is the katana due to its association with famous Samurai. However, there are also other lesser known swords that have been produced over the centuries in Japan , one of which is the ōdachi.

Odachi (written as in kanji , and translated as ‘great or great sword’ ), sometimes called Nodachi (written in kanji as and translated as ‘long sword’ ) is a type of long-bladed Japanese sword. The blade of the ōdachi is curved, and is usually about 90 to 100 centimeters in length (nearly about 35 to 39 inches). Some ōdachis have even been recorded with tongues 2 meters (6.56 ft.)

The Ōdachi is said to have been one of the weapons of choice on the battlefield during the Nanboku-chō Period , which lasted for a large part of the 14th century AD. During this period, the wheels produced were recorded to be over a meter in length. However, this weapon fell out of favor after a short time, the main reason being that it was not a practical weapon to use in battles. However, odachi continued to be used by warriors, and its use ended only in 1615, after the Battle of Osaka Natsu no Jin (also known as the Siege of Osaka), in which the Tokugawa shogunate destroyed the clan. Toyotomi.

This 1.5 meter (5 feet) long Nodachi sword is still small compared to Norimitsu Odachi © Deepak Sarda / Flickr

There are several ways that odachi could have been used on the battlefield. The simplest of these is that they are simply used by army soldiers. This can be found in literary works such as the Heike Monogatari (translated as ‘The Tale of the Heike’ ) and the Taiheiki (translated as ‘Chronicle of the Great Peace’ ). A foot soldier wielding an odachi might have been slashed across the back by the sword instead of at the side, due to its exceptional length. However, this made it impossible for the warrior to draw the blade quickly.

Japanese Edo period woodblock print (ukiyo-e) of a samurai carrying an ōdachi or nodding on his back. They are said to also carry a katana and kodachi © Wikimedia Commons

Alternatively, odachi can only be carried by hand. During the Muromachi period (which lasted from the 14th to the 16th centuries AD), an odachi-carrying warrior often had a subordinate who helped get his weapon. Possibly odachi was used by warriors fighting on horseback.

It has also been suggested that, since the odachi is a cumbersome weapon to use, it is not really used as a weapon in combat. Instead, it could be used as a sort of standard for troops, similar to how a flag would be used in a battle. Furthermore, it has been shown that odachi takes on a more ceremonial role.

For example, during the Edo period, odachi was commonly used in ceremonies. In addition, odachis are sometimes placed in Shinto shrines as an offering to the gods. Odachi can also be a showcase for a swordsmith’s skill, as it is not an easy blade to craft.

A Japanese ukiyo-e of Hiyoshimaru meets Hachisuka Koroku on the Yahabi Bridge. Cropped and edited to show an ōdachi hanging from his back. He holds a yari (spear) © Wikimedia Commons
Norimitsu Odachi is practical or decorative?

With regard to Norimitsu Odachi, some advocated the view that it was used for practical purposes, and that its user must therefore be a giant. A simpler explanation for this particular sword is that it was used for non-combat purposes.

ōdachi’s size compared to humans

The crafting of such an extremely long sword was only possible in the hands of a skilled swordsmith. So it makes sense that Norimitsu Odachi is purely to show off the swordsman’s abilities. In addition, the trustee Norimitsu Odachi must have been very wealthy, as to produce such an object would have cost a lot of money.