Inspire Creation: Story of The Gentle Sword


Once upon a winter, in the cold valley of the Sagami province of Japan, legends tell of the swordsmith Masamune. Whose reputation as Japan’s greatest swordsmith sparked a challenge from his ambitious student Muramasa. The challenge was to be a contest of who could make the better sword.

Both smiths returned to their forges and began the tireless work of crafting the sword. After many days and nights, their Katana’s were revealed; glistening in the sunlight, brightly carrying the marks of the smith. Marks that span time; frozen in silent steel.

The competition was to be held in a slow flowing stream. Both smiths revealed a naked blade and lowered the cutting edges into the current of the the stream. Both watched the effect each blade had on the surrounding flow of life.

A fish swam gently, using the current of the water to slowly guide itself down the stream. The fish did not seemed phased when Muramasa’a blade divided the fish in two. Floating up dead, the fish continued down the stream. A leaf bouncing atop the ripples of the stream was cut swiftly and seamlessly, as if the sword was never there, the leaf continued its journey.

All the while, Masamune held a calm expression in his presence and attention to the stream flowing beneath him. The fish simply swam around the edge of his blade, and the leaf treated the great sword as just another ripple in its path downstream.

With grin, Muramasa mocked Masamune for creating such a dull katana, unable to cut even a delicate leaf. Unfazed by the mocking, Masamune calmly dried the blade and sheathed the katana once more. Before both smiths departed from the stream, a monk who had been watching the whole contest walked up to the two smiths, bowed, and explained what he had seen.

“The first of the swords was by all accounts a fine sword, however it is a blood thirsty, an evil blade as it doesn’t discriminate as to who or what it will cut. It may just as well be cutting down butterflies as severing heads. The second was by far the finer of the two, as it doesn’t needlessly cut that which is innocent and undeserving”



One brought the gardener to the war

The other brought the warrior to the garden



A sword made by Masamune, in the Tokyo museum.




Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford. 2004. “TALES OF OLD JAPAN”
Masamune. Wikepedia. (
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