Vernon man collects rare Japanese Samurai sword. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)

Okanagan man’s rare Muramasa sword carries ‘cursed’ backstory

“It really belongs in a museum.”

Swords are objects that, throughout history, often combine fact and fiction to create legendary stories.

One Vernon collector said he stumbled upon one of these such swords at a garage sale of all places. The Muramasa, originating from Japan, is one of the most rare and legendary swords in the world.

As swords were so highly revered centuries ago, the swordsmith’s work became an immensely important task. Muramasa Sengo was a swordsmith who lived during the Muramachi period (between the 14th and 16th centuries A.D.). The blade’s high quality craftsmanship made the sword quite popular in Japan at the time but, it was over the two centuries that followed that made it so legendary.

During the reign of Togugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo period, that Muramasa’s blades fell out of favour. Eventually dubbed the “soul of the Samari”, it was thought to be cursed and the sword was eventually banned in Japan due to the belief was that the blades would ‘possess’ their wielders, turning them into insane and deadly warriors who craved bloodshed.

Numerous forgeries have been made over the years, making it quite difficult today for authentic Muramasa blades to be identified. If found and authenticated, these rare swords are typically priced at over a million dollars.

The Vernon man who currently owns a sword believed to be a true Muramasa, said it was a “garage find.”

He said he purchased the sword from the granddaughter of General Jonathan M. Wainwright, who had been rumoured to have gained possession of the sword after Tomoyuki Yamashita, a Japanese general of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, was forced to surrender it.

The woman the collector said he bought it from had not yet authenticated it at the time of purchase. He said he found it interesting and also wasn’t sure if it was authentic when he bought it. But, once in his possession, he sent it to a Japanese sword society for proof of authentication.

“The woman I bought it from was Wainwright’s granddaughter and she just happened to be selling a bunch of her grandfather’s stuff, and I just thought it was pretty cool. I feel like she probably thought it was a big deal but never went through the trouble of authenticating it. I did and it turned out to be a true Muramasa,” he said.

While the owner did not want to disclose how much he had paid for the blade, he said the cost was not the typical price tag you’d find at a rummage sale.

“It really belongs in a museum.”

Editor’s Note: Owner’s name has been kept anonymous for privacy purposes and safety due to the rarity of the sword in question.

Related: Enderby RCMP officers seize Samurai sword

Related: 19 years after B.C. woman’s murder in India, husband still haunted

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Vernon man collects rare Japanese Samurai sword. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)

Vernon man collects rare Japanese Samurai sword. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)

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