top of page

New Discovery by Japanese Archaeologists

The Japanese penchant for wielding large curved swords goes back much further in time than previously thought, an excavation of a 4th-century tomb has discovered.

Ancient Japanese sword and bronze mirror found in Nara
Credit: Nara city board of education | Kyodo

In the western city of Nara, a few miles east of Osaka, a tomb inside a funerary mound uncovered a 7.5-foot-long sword and a large bronze shield-shaped mirror. These are 'first of its kind' finds in Japan.

The tomb is thought to have belonged to a wealthy person in service of the region’s Yamato rulers, and the metalwork on the back of the mirror depicts mythical animals typical of western Japan. Mirrors and swords are supposed to have been tools to protect the dead against evil spirits.

Nara Prefecture’s Archaeological Institute at Kashihara classifies them as “national treasures” as both are “masterpieces,” and the two largest of such items ever uncovered from the Late Japanese Iron Age.

“(These discoveries) indicate that the technology of the Kofun period (300-710 AD) is beyond what had been imagined, and they are masterpieces in metalwork from that period,” said Kosaku Okabayashi, the deputy director of the Institute.

At 7.5 feet in length (2.3 m) the “dako” sword is far larger than any previously found blades from the period which top out at 2.8 feet (86 cm). Riku Murase said he and his colleagues initially thought it was several swords laid handle-to-tip at first, having never seen anything so large. And, because of its remarkable length, archaeologists believe the sword was a ceremonial tool, and not made for battle.

“It was my dream to dig up a mirror. Who knew that it would be something so incredible?” said Murase.



Medieval Woman's Extravagant Necklace: The find, as the Washington Post put it, is “being hailed as the most significant female burial site from the era discovered in Britain.” Take a look...

bottom of page