RealmgART: The Houou Mochizuki

If you’re struggling to parse “Houou Mochizuki”, read it as ‘the sword Houou, by the smith Mochizuki.’

The Houou Mochizuki: a katana and its scabbard.

First off, if you’re struggling to parse “Houou Mochizuki”, read it as ‘the sword Houou, by the smith Mochizuki’ — like how, for example, the Lipinski Stradivarius is a specific Stradivarius violin and any of his violins is a Stradivarius.

This is how most of the swords attributed to the legendary Japanese smith Masamune are named — the Honjō Masamune (now lost) was the Masamune sword owned by Honjō Shigenaga; the Fudo Masamune is named for the engraving of the god Fudo Myo-o on the blade.

Masamune’s swords are the primary inspiration for this one. I went with an M name for my swordsmith in part because of the fact that Masamune and his great rival Muramasa both have M names.

Mochizuki was the best Japanese M name I could find, and the fact that Mochizuki Chiyome was (allegedly) a famous female ninja is nice bonus. I’m still undecided on whether my Mochizuki is going to be a woman.

In this case, the Houou Mochizuki is the Mochizuki sword with a phoenix engraved on it.

“Houou” is the Japanese word for phoenix. Technically, it’s the Japanese form of the Chinese fenghuang, which gets sort of Intrepretatio Graeca‘d by Western writers into “phoenix”, but which doesn’t quite cover the same mythological niche as the Western phoenix.

I went back and forth on how to orient the phoenix engraving. Ultimately, I decided to put it the way it is do to the fact that the most common way to wear a katana is edge up, so that means the phoenix is right side up when the sword is in the scabbard.

For what it’s worth, the engraving on the Fudo Masamune is oriented the same way as the blade — Fudo Myo-o’s head is towards the tip of the blade.

Also, two things at this point. 1) Yes, there’s a phoenix Pokémon called “Ho-Oh” because that’s the Japanese word for phoenix. 2) I’m not entirely clear on the best way to transliterate the Japanese “鳳凰” into Latin letters. I decided that “Houou” is probably best, if only because “Ho-Oh” is already the Pokémon…

I’m going to have a full Encyclopedia entry before long, but I’m intending for the Houou Mochizuki to belong to the Prince of Porthaven. While is this sort of reminiscent of the fact that there’s a Masamune in the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library (apparently given as a gift to Truman by an American general who had initially received it from a samurai family in Japan), I only learned about that after the fact and it’s not intended to be a reference to that.

I mostly just needed a reason for there to be a Yamatai sword in Realmgard as an excuse to draw a katana.


More art here.

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