To the people of the Empire of Japan, the sword has a significance so profound as to be almost incomprehensible to people of other lands. Part of the Imperial Regalia (sanshu no jingi) the possesion of which is a necessary prerequisite for ruling our country, it signifies courage and power, characteristics much admired by the people of this nation. Since the earliest times, a fine sword has been considered a most appropriate offering for an act of religious devotion, combining as it does in the minds of the Japanese people, the qualities of rarity and great value. Add to this its ability to destroy evil which gives it a stainless purity, and you have literally a gift fit for the gods.
For families of the Samurai caste, fine swords were heirlooms of the greatest possible value, to be used during one's lifetime and passed on with honour to one's heirs. Some fine swords that have been handed down through countless generations of Japan's oldest families are literally national treasures, as is the case with the "Kogarasu-Maru" (little crow) made by Amakuni some time in the eighth century A.D. that was originally a treasure of the great Heike clan. This, together with the "Ama no Murakumo no Tsurugi" (gathering clouds of heaven sword), which forms part of the Imperial Regalia, are now in the care of the Atsuta Shrine.
Some swords are even considered to have particular traits or characteristics. Swords by the brilliant but demented smith Muramasa Senzo while of the very highest quality, are thought to be thirsty for blood and capable of driving their owners to acts of violence.
Blades by certain other smiths are thought to bring happiness and prosperity. Suffice it to say that to the Japanese Nation, the sword has been an object of spiritual, religious and national significance since time immemorial.