Sword of Kusanagi
|Possessor||Adagumo no Yaorochi|
The Tasouken (蛇叢剣) is a sacred sword originally created by Yago Ametsukana and currently wielded by Adagumo no Yaorochi, frequently used in their spell cards and attacks. Its true identity is that of the legendary Sword of Kusanagi.
The Tasouken is a long-bladed sword said to be a divine treasure, too powerful to be wielded by normal humans. Its form is very difficult for humans to hold. Even if someone uses tools and forcibly try to hold it, it won't exhibit its power, and in addition it may take off years of the user's life span. It's said that if there was someone who could know how to use it, that person would become strong enough to rule the world forever. It has the power to sever bonds and relationships and can mow down a thousand blades of grass with one stroke while engulfed in a blazing flame. Yaorochi's sibling, Adagumo no Saragimaru, claims knows how to use it, but because they are distanced from Yaorochi, the details are not revealed. However, Yago claims that the sword's true power cannot be properly wielded by anyone, even going as far as to call it an "embodiment of the armchair theory".
The sword has the ability to sever relations, although it is unclear how this ability is activated and in what form. It could be said that Yaorochi's obsession with the sword, which lead to conflicts and estrangement with their siblings is a manifestation of this power, although it was never stated outright.
Centuries ago, there was a royal clan ruled by a certain powerful individual named Orochi (大蛇), who had control over several provinces of Ancient Japan. During the clan's golden age, they were entrusted with the responsibility of keeping the Tasouken, granted to them as an heirloom by the heavens. Other powerful clans and influential people were opposed to this clan and aimed to eliminate Orochi. However, no one dared to go head-to-head against them in a sword fight, so they threw a fake celebration for Orochi, giving them unusually strong sake. When they were certain Orochi was drunk, they murdered the leader and stole the heirloom, renaming it the "Sword of Kusanagi".
Eventually, the sword came to be dropped into the ocean and was later on recovered by Yaorochi. However, the sword became rusted, losing its former glory. Yaorochi happened to come across Sukune Katano's clay replica of the sword, commissioned by Saragimaru, and devised a plan to restore it by transferring its essence to the clay model. They tricked Sukune into giving them the replica by claiming to be a holy servant who would transfer a divine spirit into the sword. Once the ritual was complete, the clay sword's exterior crumbled away to reveal the new Tasouken. Due to poor communication with Sukune, Yaorochi only learned after the fact that the clay model they transferred the sword into was actually a sword-shaped bottle opener, to their brief distraught.
It is said that Saragimaru made some magical inscriptions on the clay vessel they commissioned from Sukune, which suppresses the sword's power and prevents it from performing its regular function, although it is unclear what said function is. It is later revealed that Saragimaru learnt of the inscriptions and the accompanying sealing ritual from Tenkai Zuifeng.
The Tasouken is based on the Sword of Kusanagi (草薙の剣 Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, lit. "Grass Cutting Sword") a legendary artifact and one of the "Three Sacred Treasures of Japan". Originally named Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (天叢雲剣, lit. "Sword of the Gathering of Clouds in Heaven"), legend has it that it was first discovered when the storm god Susanoo-no-Mikoto was chopping off the fourth tail of the fearsome eight-headed, eight-tailed serpent Yamata no Orochi while it was asleep from drinking extremely heavy sake. Referenced in the Tasouken's backstory as opposing clan members offering Orochi powerful alcohol to intoxicate and murder them, after which they stole the Tasouken.
It got the name "Grass cutting sword" when the great warrior Yamato Takeru was trapped in an open grass field by a treacherous warlord with fiery arrows and had to use the sword to cut back the flames by removing some of its fuel. It is often mistaken to be a katana because it is a Japanese weapon, despite the Kusanagi pre-dating the invention of the katana by a number of centuries.
The sword would later be famously lost at sea during the historical Battle of Dan-no-ura, where the Taira clan's forces were cornered by the Minamoto clan, upon which the Taira attempted to throw the imperial regalia into the sea to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. This also prompted the young Emperor Antoku's grandmother to commit suicide along with the young emperor by jumping overboard, as they were under the care of the Taira. Although official accounts claim that the sword had been recovered and is currently enshrined at the Atsuta Shrine, many presume the sword to be actually lost; with some legends even claiming that this is due to Emperor Antoku being a reincarnation of Yamata-no-Orochi, back to reclaim his sword. This is referenced by the Tasouken being dropped into the ocean and recovered by Yaorochi, a descendent of Orochi, instead of the Japanese imperial family.
Tasouken (蛇叢剣) literally means "snake cluster sword", which is a reference to its original owner Orochi, who is based on the monstrous serpent Yamata no Orochi; as well as their current owner, Yaorochi, who belongs to a group of snake-like youkai also named orochi. It is also theorised that the name Kusanagi may also mean "Sword of the Snake" (蛇の剣), furthering the sword's connection to snakes. The second kanji in its name, 叢 is also found in the Sword of Kusanagi's original name 天叢雲剣. Its name, "蛇叢剣", is also the Japanese title of the game 鏈縁 蛇叢釼 ～ Earthen Miraculous Sword.
According to JynX, the Tasouken has a ji-midare (子乱) blade pattern (刃文 hamon), while there is no blade pattern that is secifically named "ji-midare", it likely refers to one of the choujiba (丁子刃 lit. clove blade) patterns in the midareba (乱れ刃 lit. disorganized blade) pattern family. The midareba pattern family is classified by it's wavy blade patterns, as opposed to the suguba (直刃 lit. straight blade) pattern family, classified by it's straight line blade patterns; while the choujiba sub-family is named so as the patterns resemble clove fruits. The Tasouken seems to specifically have the gunome-chouji (互の目丁子) pattern, as can be seen here (third from the left).
- Earthen Miraculous Sword
The Tasouken appears as a hidden final boss of Earthen Miraculous Sword. Sukune Katano was originally tricked by Adagumo no Yaorochi into transferring the essence of the Tasouken into a clay replica, but said process made the weather in Mugenri very cloudy. Still resenting humans for murdering Orochi's clan and separating them from their sword, they attack the heroes and use the battle to test the Tasouken. The Tasouken attacks the heroes on its own after Yaorochi is defeated, wanting the protagonists to "prove their power". In order to battle this boss, you must have the "Cloud Flower Gauge" (雲花ゲージ) mechanic filled to at least 3 petals once you've defeated Yaorochi. Within this battle, you cannot shoot at it, nor can you use a bomb.
The sword only used one survival spell card, called "A Single Glimmer" (｢ただ一つの煌き｣). This battle is also synchronised with the music. The spell card has a series of patterns, and the last one requires you to graze danmaku and use the new gameplay mechanic "flash bomb" because there are 19 huge slashes that goes across the screen that cannot be dodged under normal circumstances. Once the spell card is over, the sword returns to being inanimate. After Yaorochi and the sword were defeated, Sukune reveals to them that the back of the sword acts as a bottle opener. The orochi was devastated at first, but they decided in the end that they didn't mind at all because they had the sword in their possession after centuries, and it was all that mattered to them.
- Reactivate Majestical Imperial
While never the topic of conversation, the Tasouken can be seen strapped to Yaorochi's waist, and is presumably used in some of their attacks and spell cards.
- Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle
The Tasouken remains in the possession of Yaorochi, who had become paranoid that both sides of the ongoing war wanted the sword for themselves and took to hiding in the Ritual Site at the Unlost Woods.