To help you pick the tool that matches your business personality, we would like to present a brief biography of each of the six samurai who inspired this range. Are you Takeda Shingen 'the respected' or Sanada Yukimura 'the tenacious'? Perhaps, as a devotee of old-fashioned letter writing, you identify with Saigo Takamori 'the principled', also known as the 'last true samurai'?
Whichever story intrigues you the most, one thing is certain. With a miniature samurai sword letter opener in your hand, dealing with any correspondence - even bills - will feel like a heroic endeavor!
Takeda Shingen 'the respected' (1521-1573)
Shingen is revered as one of the greatest samurai leaders of Japan's Warring States era. As head of the Takeda clan, Shingen expanded his territory significantly and fought against his rival Uesugi Kenshin five times in the legendary Battles of Kawanakajima. By the end of his life, Shingen was one of only a few people in a position to challenge Oda Nobunaga's rise to power. Although he won a crushing victory over Tokugawa Ieyasu, Nobunaga's retainer and later successor, he passed away of illness or injury before he could challenge Nobunaga in person. Even Uesugi Kenshin mourned his rival, such was his respect for Shingen as a leader and strategist.
Oda Nobunaga 'the innovator'(1534-1582)
The wayward second son of a minor warlord, Oda Nobunaga rose to become a major historical figure. Using a combination of shrewd alliances and brute force, he managed to subdue over half of Japan's provinces during his lifetime. As a leader, Nobunaga adopted many military, economic and organizational innovations, from the use of Western firearms to the banning of monopolies and the appointment of fiefdoms based on agricultural output. His retainers Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu followed in his footsteps; together they are now known as the ‘three great unifiers’ of Japan.
Sanada Yukimura 'the tenacious'(1557-1615)
Yukimura was a legendary fighter. In 1600, he successfully defended his family's castle at Ueda against the forces of Tokugawa Hidetada, son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, despite being outnumbered 19 to 1. This prevented Hidetada from arriving on time for the Battle of Sekigahara, which marked the beginning of his father's shogunate. Yukimura later faced the Tokugawa forces again as one of the leading generals in the Siege of Osaka. After putting up an heroic defence of the castle, he died in the siege's final stages. Yukimura is remembered for his strategic brilliance and bravery in fighting against overwhelming odds.
Date Masamune 'the builder'(1567-1636)
Date Masamune, a fearsome samurai lord from the Tohoku region of northern Japan, was nicknamed 'The One-Eyed Dragon of Oshu'. A recalcitrant but respected vassal of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and then Tokugawa Ieyasu, he is remembered for avoiding his superiors' wrath while transforming his territory from a backwater into a major economic center. There, Masamune welcomed many foreign traders and missionaries, hoping to increase his own power. In 1613, he funded a diplomatic mission to Rome via New Spain in an attempt to establish relations with the Vatican. Unfortunately, the shogunate undermined his message by promptly stepping up its persecution of Christians. Despite this case of bad timing, Masamune remains a popular figure in Japanese history for his business prowess, formidable appearance and determined ambition.
Sakamoto Ryoma 'the visionary'(1836-1867)
In his youth, Sakamoto Ryoma trained to become a master swordsman. Later, he became famous for negotiating the unlikely alliance between the Choshu and Satsuma provinces against the Tokugawa shogunate. This led to the restoration of the Emperor as the supreme leader of Japan. Ryoma advocated military modernization and a democratic style of government modeled on that of countries like the United States. Although he was assassinated by supporters of the old shogunate shortly before the Restoration, his legacy lived on in the new institutions of Meiji Era Japan. He is remembered today somewhat romantically as one of the great visionaries of Japanese history.
Saigo Takamori 'the principled'(1828- 1877)
Hailing from Satsuma province, Saigo Takamori fought in support of the Emperor during the Meiji Restoration. When Korea refused to recognize the Emperor, Takamori offered to travel there and behave so badly as to provoke his own assassination, which would provide an excuse for military action. When his selfless plan was rejected, Takamori resigned his position in government. Returning to Satsuma, he gained a following of proud samurai who were disaffected by military reforms. Nervous about the region's growing might and autonomy under Takamori, the Imperial government eventually became heavy-handed. In response, Takamori was forced to lead the ill-fated Satsuma Rebellion. With his death in battle, he cemented his reputation forever as 'the last true samurai'.
- Remember, these miniature samurai sword letter openers are not supposed to be used on anything other than envelopes.
- Although the blades are made of stainless steel, they are not designed to be sharpened like our real Japanese knives!
- Each miniature katana is 195mm in length and weighs around 25g. When sheathed, the product is 205mm long and approximately 35g in weight. For your general paper-cutting needs, why not also take a look at our range of samurai design scissors?