Sugari no Ontachi

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Sugari No Ontachi (須賀利御太刀) is a Japanese sword. It is one of the important sacred treasures of the Inner Shrine, Naikū (内宮) of Ise Grand Shrine (伊勢神宮, Ise Jingū), the Grand Head of Shinto shrines in Japan.[1] Kotai Jingu Gishikicho (皇太神宮儀式帳) describes "須賀利" (Sugari) as "須賀流". "須賀流" is an archaic word for bee or wasp, which is thought to have been named for its beautiful decoration like a bee or wasp.

Ise Grand Shrine has continued the tradition of rebuilding every 20 years, Shikinen Sengu (式年遷宮) into an adjacent land with exactly the same specifications since the time of Empress Jitō in the end of the 7th century. Similarly, the tradition of replacing old sacred treasures with new ones of exactly the same specifications has continued.[2] This tradition is based on the idea of Tokowaka (常若) in Shinto, that new objects have stronger divine power.[3] There are 1576 sacred treasures that are renewed every 20 years, and Sugari no Ontachi is the most important sacred treasure along with Tamamaki no Ontachi (玉纏御太刀)[4] in the sword category.[5][2][1] However, because the scabbards and hanging belts of Sugari no Ontachi and Tamamaki no Ontachi were made in a characteristic style in the Heian period after the end of the 8th century[5][6], these swords did not exist at the beginning of Shikinen Sengu in 690, and it is possible that they were added to the sacred treasures or their designs were changed in later years.

A part of the name of "Sugari no Ontachi", "Tachi" (太刀) is characterized by a curved blade, but the shape of the Sugari no Ontachi is similar to a straight Chokutō (直刀). As Sugari no Ontachi is used for religious services, it is much more gorgeous than swords for actual fighting. The exterior is decorated with fine gold sculptures, multiple bells, crystal, glass, agate and amber, and two crested ibis feathers.[5]

Modern age[edit]

At the 61st Shikinen Sengu in 1993, the Japanese crested ibis was on the verge of extinction and it was thought that it would be impossible to obtain feathers, but the feathers kept by donors were taken over and they were secured until the 62nd Shikinen Sengu in 2013.[7]

Until the Meiji period, The sacred treasures were dedicated to Kami in the main hall for 20 years, and then kept in the treasure house for another 20 years to serve as a model for the manufacturing of sacred treasures in later years, and then burned or buried in the shrine grounds. After the opening of the Jingu Chokokan Museum (神宮徴古館), the old sacred treasures removed from the treasure house exhibited at special exhibitions in the Jingu Chokokan Museum and other museums.[8] Recently, from October 2015 to October 2016, the old Sugari no Ontachi, which had been replaced, was displayed together with 9 swords including Tamamaki no Ontachi at Jingu Chokokan Museum.[1] Also, old sacred treasures removed from the treasure house may be granted as an Imperial gift to other shrines.[9]


  1. ^ a b c 伊勢神宮の神宝 御太刀 ―宝刀の魅力― 神宮の博物館 Jingu Museum official site.
    Note:The photo on the site shows Tamamaki no Ontachi.
  2. ^ a b 遷宮について Ise Grand Shrine official site
  3. ^ 「伊勢神宮―常若の聖地」 Wedge Inc. Kyomi Chikusa
  4. ^ A sword with the same name exists in Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine.
  5. ^ a b c 美を継ぐ神宝―伊勢の神宮 御装束神宝調製 家庭画報
  6. ^ モノづくり再生は新旧技術のコラボレーションで 旭化成
  7. ^ 「伊勢神宮の宝剣に 石川のトキの羽」北國新聞 Hkkoku Shimbun. September 2, 2012
  8. ^ 神宮の博物館 展示・所蔵品 神宮の博物館 Jingu Museum official site
  9. ^ 伊勢神宮から出雲大社に 太刀など御装束神宝4点下げ渡し Sankei Shimbun January 9, 2016
  • 『伊勢神宮の衣食住』(矢野憲一著、東京書籍)、ISBN 4-487-72230-6