We Compared Famous Western & Japanese Swords

We Compared Famous Western & Japanese Swords


For today’s post we decided to take a look at famous medieval swords, both Western and Japanese.

On both sides of the world there have been really significant swords. Weapons that are easily recognizable not only by their appearance, but by what they mean.

Note: We’re not saying that any sword is better than the other. We’re just comparing western swords with their Japanese equivalents.


Excalibur vs Kusanagi

According to English legends, Excalibur is a sword of unparalleled power. It was stuck in a stone until Arthur drew it, becoming the king of England.

While it is not officially specified what type of sword Excalibur was, it is often depicted as a greatsword. These are the conventional Western swords. They are not very flashy, but they are effective on the battlefield.

On the other hand, we have the Kusanagi no Tsurugi. This sword is as important to Japan as Excalibur is to Britain.

Susanoo found the Kusanagi no Tsurugi inside one of the tails of an evil giant snake.  Years later, this sword fell into the hands of Prince Yamato Takeru.

While defending himself from an ambush in which his enemies were shooting burning arrows, Takeru discovered that the sword had hidden powers. With it he could control the wind, moving it in the direction of his swings. He was able to turn the tables and redirect the flames towards his opponents.

As with the Excalibur, it has never been specified what type of sword the Kusanagi is, so its appearance is left to the imagination.

The sword is supposed to exist, but only the emperor and a select group of Shinto have been able to see it.


Tyrfing vs. a Katana of Muramasa

If we move into the realm of Norse mythology, we’ll find Tyrfing. This is a cursed sword forged by dwarves under the command of Odin’s grandson. Svafrlami’s plan was to get the strongest sword in the world. Instead, he got a sword that ended up being the cause of his death.

Legend has it that the Tyrfing burns like fire, and once drawn it must kill someone. If he cannot kill anyone, the sword will turn against its own bearer, killing him.

Something similar was told about the famous demon swords forged by Muramasa.

It was said that these swords were hungry for blood. Once drawn, they could not be sheathed again without first taking someone’s life. Again, if there is no one to kill, the sword will turn against its bearer to kill him.

These swords would also have the power to control their bearer, leading them to murder whoever is nearby.


Durendal vs Honjo Masamune

Durendal was the sword of Roland, a legendary French paladin. Legend has it that it once even belonged to Charlemagne, but that it later fell into the hands of the Saracens.

Durendal is supposed to have been forged by Wayland, one of the most famous blacksmiths in ancient chivalry history. According to “The Song of Roland”, this mythical sword was given to Charlemagne by an angel. The poem also tells that the handle was imbued with all sorts of mythical objects, such as a tooth of St. Peter and a piece of the raiment of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Legend has it that Durendal was an indestructible sword, and that it was so powerful that it could pass through stone without any problem. Thanks to it, Roland was able to confront the Saracens, making them retreat. However, when he wanted to destroy the sword so that it would not be taken, he could not.

Roland then decided to throw it against the stones of a steep cliff. The sword cut into the rock and was stuck there, where no one could take it.

Today you can see the so-called mythical sword if you visit Rocamadour in France.

On the other hand, just as powerful as Durendal, is the mythical Honjo Masamune.

Forged by the legendary blacksmith Masamune, it is one of the most famous Japanese katanas. It belonged to General Honjo Shigenaga, who served the Uesugi clan.

During the battle of Kawanakajima, a powerful general who held this mythical sword in his hands at the time challenged Honjo to a duel. The duel was violent, and at one point the general managed to split Honjo’s helmet with the powerful katana. However, Honjo eventually won the duel and took the general’s sword as his reward.

Although in any place is said the Honjo Masamune is indestructible, it is consider a sword of extraordinary power.

The sword was passed from hand to hand until it came to be considered a national treasure.

Test Your Knowledge

Feudal Japan's Warriors and Roles Unraveled

Take the Quiz

Samurai Sword Mastery: The Ultimate Challenge

Take the Quiz

Samurai Wisdom: Embark on a Journey Through the Ages

Take the Quiz