Survivor’s guilt not included.
If binging the 90s anime feudal classic Rurouni Kenshin on Netflix isn’t enough for you, then maybe going to Japan and checking out Kenshin Himura’s sakabato recreated in real life may sate your sword-based shonen bloodlust.
The most iconic sword in the series, which is basically a reverse-blade katana that doesn’t kill, is carried around by Kenshin himself so that he can fight just as effectively but without taking a life since the cutting edge is on the inside of the curve. Now you get to see it in real life at the Meijimura complex in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture.
So who made the sword? A swordsmith named Kanekuni Ogawa; he won multiple special awards from the Society for Preservation of Japanese Art Swords for his craftsmanship. And even for a master swordsmith, making the sakabato was not easy. Since the sword in the manga/anime fluctuates depending on the scene, he only had to work with visual impressions of the sword’s weight, sharpness, and speed. Here’s what he came up with:
- The sword’s hamon (that wavey bit between the blunt and sharp edge of a katana) is based on a gunome pattern; irregular waves with gentle transitions. Seems to fit Kenshin’s struggle between being “Hitokiri Battousai” and being an actually kind human being.
- The sword has a large quantity of nie, which are crystals that form as part of the smithing’s quenching process that gives it a bright sheen and moistened metal visual effect.
- The mark at the blade’s metal base not only contains the mark of Ogawa, but also the death poem of Arai Shakku, the swordsmith in the manga who forged the blade. Talk about keeping true to the series!
In case you’re wondering what it says, it reads:
Slashing myself, I have trained countless blades. My son reviles, but for my grandson, I bleed.
The museum opening hours vary daily; check out the times and address here.