Tengen swords - a type of Japanese sword made during the Muromachi period. These swords are weapons that were developed in Japan during the Muromachi period (1392-1573). The Muromachi period was also known as the Nanbokucho period, and it is considered to be one of Japan's most prosperous periods. The products and services of this era were highly sought after by neighboring countries, including China, Korea, and Vietnam.

During this time, these swords were produced by master swordsmiths under orders from powerful lords who assembled teams to improve their skills in producing these high-quality weapons. The techniques used to create these weapons were quite similar to those of today. 

Tools and materials are used in the same manner, allowing for the production of real swords with identical qualities to modern ones. The only difference is the time spent on producing them. These swords were made by hand, eliminating duplicates from being produced. It was said that each Tengen forged by a swordsmith could be recognized because of its unique characteristics.

What are Tengen Swords?

These swords are a Japanese-style sword which was produced in the mid-17th century. First, the blade of the sword was made from iron and then it was covered in a lacquer called tengen. The process of making swords became more elaborate as time progressed and so did their decoration. 

As with most katana swords (Japanese swords), this type of sword features a handguard that is meant to protect the user's hands from getting cut when they are holding it at its base during thrusting attacks and blocks using their fingertips and thumb rather than with their full palm. The handle of the sword is made from bamboo and the sword's crossguard is made from iron. The Tengen finish is what makes this sword different from the standard katana. 

The effect produced on the blade by applying tengen, a lacquer, over it, contributes to its beauty and mystique in Japan. People would often remark that they felt as if their hands were being embraced by the sword instead of holding it as one would hold a weapon. It was called "taru mikiri," meaning "embrace hand." The tengu was originally a demon associated with storms and wind, but like many other ideas about demons, this demon has been tasered in various ways over time.

Features of Tengen Swords

The Tengen was a Japanese two-handed sword. It has a curved blade and is often described as one of the most beautiful swords in history. It was traditionally used by samurai, who were trained in martial arts such as iaido and iaijutsu. 

Tengen swords have a long history of use, with over five centuries having passed since their creation during the late Muromachi period. They have been circulated in various parts of the world, and their history begins with the introduction of European swords into Japan. These swords are still considered a part of traditional Japanese culture and are used as a representation of samurai culture. 

The sword's history has evoked interest from a number of people, including those interested in Japanese culture and those specifically interested in martial arts. The swords' value is enhanced by the rarity with which they are seen today – an attribute that has been attributed to the passage of time since their creation. They are now viewed as being valuable collector's items or museum pieces, rather than weapons used for combat. Let's take a look at these cool features:

1. The Curved Blade

The curved blade of the Tengen is a defining characteristic and is one of its most unique features. It possesses a distinctive shape with a curvature that is exaggerated when seen in sword works. 

Although the blades have been described as being "curved" because they possess a slight curve, it has also been classified as being "cymahedral". This type of blade has an outward-curved tip, which extends to the blade's full width along its full length – akin to that of a boomerang. This curvature has been attributed to the influence of European blades in Japan, although the common Japanese type of sword has always been straight.

At first glance, a curved blade from a sword can seem extremely harmless or even ineffective. The purpose of the curvature is to extend the reach of a cut and offer an advantage in close-ranged combat. It also serves as a balance point when it comes to carrying out swift cuts and thrusts.

2. The Long Tsuka

Another defining characteristic of a tengen is its length of around 330–370 cm (135–146 inches). This length is notably longer than that of other Japanese swords and also follows from the influence of European blades, which have longer swords than those used by Japanese warriors. The long tsuka also enabled a samurai to wield it with greater ease and accuracy.

The long tsuka of a tengen sword is believed to differ from other swords in that it uses the same type of stored energy, known as "sakki". This is the energy created by bending or flexing the muscles and tendons; an action which allows a samurai to use power behind their cut. The long tsuka of a tengen sword requires a degree of strength to wield it and this has been cited as being an influence from European blades.

3. The Shirasaya

One of the most notable features of these Tengen swords is its hilt, known commonly as the "shirasaya". The hilt is made of a single piece of wood which is held by two handles, which are usually made of curved metal. It has also been described as being a covered scabbard, and it was traditionally decorated with images of dragons and tigers.

The hilt of the sword includes a large number of different parts; these include the hilt itself, the tang (belly), the back plate (the back part of the blade), and the fuchi (the end that connects to the tang). The tsuba attaches to both sides of the tang via rivets, which are often described as being steel or bronze. The tsuba also has a wheel pommel at its end.

The shirasaya is believed to be a distinctly Japanese form of the hilt that gained popularity in the 16th century. It was traditionally made with rosewood, and it has been described as being more beautiful than any other type of hilt. This may have been due to the intricate patterns that were carved into the hilts. 

These patterns were said to resemble tigers or dragons, with a specific image used for each blade; their usage is thought to have been an attempt at ensuring that each sword had its own individuality in an era without serial numbers or signatures. This also meant that swords could be identified in the events of a crime, such as an assassination.

4. Commonality and Rarity

The commonality of a tengen sword – attributed to its shortness in length – has also led to its rarity and value as collector's items or museum pieces. This trait is attributed to the nature of the tsuba, which is made from a single type of metal and therefore doesn't continue to develop as time progresses.

It has been said that there were around 3,000 tsuba produced for the Tengen, although this figure may be exaggerated by as much as an order of magnitude. Thomas Highfill – a scholar who has researched the blades – suggested that only 162 swords could be attributed to this type with certainty. Due to their short length and single-colored (black) blades, they are often called "white swords", "black swords" or "tiger blades".

5. The Kanenomitama-no-Tachi

The Kanenomitama-no-Tachi was a tengen blade. It is the oldest and most famous of these swords and is regarded as being among the most valuable swords in Japanese history. In fact, it may be the most valuable sword ever created in Japan. It is named after a shrine in Chiba city, from where it was stolen in 1985. Although it has never been recovered, an image of the sword's appearance was captured on film by its last owner, Kondo Kenji.

Also Read: Parts of a Sword

What Makes Tengen Swords Popular?

The popularity of Tengen Swords began in Japan, and the first major tournament took place in 1990. After that there was a tremendous growth in interest and tournaments amongst the Samurai sword community, with more than 450 tournaments being held from 1995 to 2006. 

Samuel Indeyaraja has helped lead Tengen into the modern day by taking over leadership of the organization when his father stepped down as headmaster, joining him on council is his father's successor, Hidehira. As an international organization, they have hosted competitions from all over Europe including England, Germany, and France. World championships are still held annually in Japan.