Swordsmith Unveils New Blade For Sumo Star Kisenosato

Swordsmith unveils new blade for sumo star KisenosatoSumo grand champion Kisenosato is used to putting opponents to the sword, but now he is literally going to get a blade to call his own.
But opponents need not fear--he's not going to be using the weapon to slice them up like sashimi.

The "tachi” longsword for the 72nd yokozuna will instead be carried by his retainer when the wrestler ceremoniously approaches the dohyo ring during tournaments.

A father and son working together as Japanese swordsmiths here in central Japan made the blade.

The sword will be seen in public for the first time when Kisenosato makes his debut as a yokozuna at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament scheduled to kick off March 12 in Osaka.

The father, Katsuo Kato, said he was so confident Kisenosato would become a yokozuna that he started preparing to make the special item almost one year before the official promotion was announced.

Kato, 60, is the 25th-generation bearer of Fujiwara Kanefusa, a prestigious swordmaker’s name that has been passed down since the Muromachi Period (1338-1573). Kato's son, Masafumi, 38, is in line to be No. 26.

Fujiwara Kanefusa the 23rd also created tachi swords for two legendary yokozuna--Futabayama and Taiho.

Kato came to know the Tagonoura stable, which Kisenosato belongs to, when a young wrestler who Kato used to teach at a sumo class for local children joined the stable about 10 years ago.

Kato has since become friends with the stablemaster and Kisenosato.

In the spring of 2016, Kato became convinced Kisenosato would make it to the top rank and so began preparing to make a tachi sword without being asked to do so.

Then, before the start of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament in the summer, the Tagonoura stablemaster felt out whether Kato would be willing to make one for Kisenosato.

The blade of the tachi is about 75 centimeters in length and weighs 1.8 kilograms. The edge has a pattern resembling a mountain range.

A motif of an ascending dragon and three kanji “shin-gi-tai” (heart, skill and physique) are etched into the blade. The three characters form a phrase often used to describe how important it is for a yokozuna to be equally strong in these attributes.

After Kisenosato’s promotion was announced, a few other swordsmiths offered to make his sword, but Kato was formally selected.

“I initially started forging the sword with a prayer for him to become a yokozuna,” said Kato. “When I finally heard the news, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I would like for him to become a yokozuna who fights head-on but keeps his calm.”