Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo may star a bunny rabbit as cute as any in the old “funny animal” subgenre of comicbooks from days gone by, but Miyamoto Usagi is not a joke. Based on the ancient Japanese pictorials (that also featured pre-Manga wide-eyed animals in serious situations) and the life and writings of Miyamoto Musashi, Usagi’s stories take equal inspiration from Japanese cinema and mythology.
Surprisingly, some of the best Usagi stories have revolved around creator Stan Sakai’s own vast imagination, as well as direct historical accounts of the Edo period of Japan.
Ancient Japanese legends tell the story of the famed Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugii, the “Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven”. This artifact represents one third of the treasured Imperial Regalia of Japan. Alongside the mirror Yata no Kagami (representing Wisdom) and the jewel Yasakani no Magatama (representing Benevolence), the sword represents Valor. Eventually the “Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven” received a name change to Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi or, in English: “Grasscutter”.