Kiku-ichimonji (菊一文字) ("Chrysanthemum-straight line"), often and somewhat erroneously romanized as "Kikuichi-monji," is a collective name given to the Japanese swords made by the thirteen swordsmiths who were in attendance to the Emperor Go-Toba in 1208. Each swordsmith was in attendance to the emperor for a month of the Japanese calendar. The swordsmiths of the Fukuoka School traditionally inscribed only the character "Ichi" (一, one) on the tang as their signature. They further received permission to append the Imperial chrysanthemum crest (菊, kiku) on the tang, thus their swords are known collectively as "Kiku-ichimonji". Go-Toba was interested in the construction of Japanese swords, and so he summoned these swordsmiths, granting them court rank and title, and asked them to share the secrets of the production of higher-quality swords.
List of Swordsmiths
- 1st month: Norimune (from Fukuoka in Bizen Province)
- 2nd month: Sadatsugu (from Ko-aoe in Bitchū Province)
- 3rd month: Nobufusa (from Fukuoka in Bizen Province)
- 4th month: Kuniyasu (from Awataguchi in Yamashiro Province)
- 5th month: Tsunetsugu (from Ko-aoe in Bitchū Province)
- Intercalary month: Hisakuni (from Awataguchi in Yamashiro Province)
- 6th month: Kunitomo (from Awataguchi in Yamashiro Province)
- 7th month: Muneyoshi (from Fukuoka, in Bizen Province)
- 8th month: Tsuguie (from Ko-aoe in Bitchū Province)
- 9th month: Sukemune (from Fukuoka in Bizen Province)
- 10th month: Yukikuni (from Fukuoka in Bizen Province)
- 11th month: Sukenari (from Fukuoka in Bizen Province)
- 12th month: Sukenobu (from Fukuoka in Bizen Province)
Kiku-ichimonji in fiction
Owing to the popularity of Shiba Ryōtarō's fiction, many modern fans of the Shinsengumi believe a Kiku-ichimonji made by Norimune to have been Okita Soji's sword. Historically, Okita used a sword made by Kiyomitsu of Kaga Province, among other blades.
In the sci-fi alternate history jidaigeki action-comedy anime and manga Gintama, a member of the anime world's Shinsengumi, Okita Sougo, owns a katana dubbed "Kiku-ichimonji RX-78", which features, among basic things like sharp blade used to cut, a digital music player with a maximum 124 hours of playtime in its hilt. Okita Sougo's himself was loosely based on the historical figure Okita Soji, alluding to the popular beliefs and rumours that the sword Kiku-ichimonji was Okita Soji's sword.
Swords styled as "Kiku-ichimonji", or which share characteristics with Kikiu-ichimonji, appear in many video games.
In Final Fantasy XIV "Kiku-ichimonji" is a katana that can be obtained as part of the level 70 Samurai job quest reward, alongside the Myochin armor set.
Path of Exile features a sword named Ichimonji, paying homage to the Kiku-ichimonji and resembling them in appearance.
In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray, the Gundam Astray Red Frame wields a katana named Gerbera Straight, which a literal translation of the name "Kiku-ichimonji".
In the Golden Sun (series) "Kikuichimonji" is a light blade that can be obtained and equipped in some characters.
- Brief history and list of the 13 Kiku-ichimonji swordsmiths (19 Sept. 2007)
- (in Japanese) Japanese Wikipedia page on Norimune's Kiku-ichimonji (19 Sept. 2007)
- (in Japanese) "Beloved Swords of the Shinsengumi members" (19 Sept. 2007)
- (in Japanese) Kikuichi sword on display at Seikado Museum  in Tokyo