One Piece: The Origin of Zoro’s Swords

Roronoa Zoro aims to be the World's Greatest Swordsman in One Piece, but a good swordsman can't get far without his swords by his side. Zoro has had quite a few different swords across his travels, and with his most recent bout against King in the Onigashima Raid, there's no better time than to chronicle the beloved blades of this master swordsman.

Wado Ichimonji

The Wado Ichimonji is far and above Zoro's most beloved treasure. Zoro grew up at a dojo in a small village in the East Blue, where he would constantly get bested by the top student, Kuina, in duels. The two made a promise to each other that one day, one of them would hold the title of World's Greatest Swordsman, but an untimely accident took Kuina's life. Zoro begged his master, and Kuina's father, for her daughter's sword. Now in possession of the Wado Ichimonji, he promised his name would reach the heavens, for both his sake and the promise he made to Kuina. Zoro has kept Wado Ichimonji ever since, and it is far and above, his most relied upon weapon.

The Wado Ichimonji was forged by the legendary Wano blacksmith, Shimotsuki Kozaburo. After his exile from Wano, it was passed down to his granddaughter, Kuina, most likely. Its name means "Straight Road of the Harmony." It's classified as one of the 21 Great Grade Swords, known for its excellent durability and cutting power. For reference, when Tashigi examined the Wado Ichimonji in Logue Town, she said Great Grade Swords were worth at least 10,000,000 beli.

Kitetsu III

Zoro testing his luck against Kitetsu III

Sandai Kitetsu, or Kitetsu III, was the first sword Zoro picked up after two of his previous swords shattered in his duel with Dracula Mihawk. He found it in a barrel of unremarkable blades in a sword shop in Logue Town, where he met Tashigi and the sword seller, Ipponmatsu.

However, Kitetsu III was not an ordinary sword, Ipponmatsu called it a cursed blade. The sword was forged by Tenguyama Hitetsu as an imitation of one of the infamously sharp Kitetsu blades and eventually found its way overseas. Its name means "Third Generation of Oni Piercer." Kitetsu swords are known to be cursed, as the swordsman who wields them will eventually die by their own blade, but this had Zoro intrigued.

He decided to test his luck against this cursed blade, and so he tossed the sword into the air with his arm outstretched. The sword rotated and fell back to the floor without cutting Zoro's arm and the Pirate Hunter decided to take the sword right then and there. Zoro has called Kitetsu III a troublemaker, known for cutting when Zoro doesn't want it to. Back in Whiskey Peak, when Zoro faced 100 Baroque Works bounty hunters, he had trouble getting Kitetsu to bend to his will, but he eventually tamed the cursed sword.


Ipponmatsu gifting Zoro his most high quality sword

Yubashiri is the second blade Zoro received from Ipponmatsu in Logue Town. The merchant respected the swordsman for testing his luck against the cursed Kitetsu and acknowledged his skill by giving him both the Kitetsu and his best sword, Yubashiri, for free. This light blade is one of the 50 Skillful Grade Swords and Zoro would often use alongside its partner, Kitetsu. Its name means "Snow Run." In Water 7, Zoro was able to cut a sea train in half using Yubashiri and Kitetsu III.

Unfortunately, Zoro would lose Yubashiri when faced with the Rust-Rust Devil Fruit user, Shu, in Enies Lobby. This marine was able to corrode Yubashira's blade down to its hilt. Zoro would keep the blade in its hilt till Thriller Bark where he left it at the Rumbar Pirates burial site as its resting place.


Zoro cleaving with Shusui

This black blade is not only another of the 21 Great Grade Swords but was wielded by the legendary samurai of Wano, Shimotsuki Ryuma. Its name means Autumn Water, and according to legend, Ryuma used this sword to slay a dragon. The sword and Ryuma's corpse were stolen by Gekko Moria 23 years ago from present-day and after Brook's shadow was placed inside Ryuma, he became one of the Warlord's strongest zombies.

Zoro would challenge Ryuma to a duel in the Thriller Bark, with the desire to take Shusui to replace Yubashiri. After their duel, Ryuma acknowledged Zoro's victory and so entrusted his blade to the swordsman.

During the Wano arc, Zoro would wander into the land of Ringo where Shusui would be stolen by the warrior monk, Gyukimaru. However, Gyukimaru was secretly the fox companion, Onimaru, of the late daimyo of Ringo, Shimotsuki Ushimaru. Shusui is considered a national treasure of Wano, so the former oiran, Kozuki Hiyori, implored Zoro to let the black bade rest here at the burial site of its master, Ryuma. In exchange, Hiyori gifted Zoro with one of her father's swords, Enma.


Zoro testing his new sword Enma

Enma is another legendary sword, one of the 21 Great Swords and forged by the master blacksmith, Shimotsuki Kozaburo, just like Wado Ichimonji. Enma was originally wielded by the late hero of Wano, Kozuki Oden, alongside his other blade, Ame no Habakiri. At the time, these two swords were the only blades that ever injured Kaido, giving him his famous x-scar on his waist. After Kozuki Oden's death, the swords were entrusted to his children, with Hiyori meant to care for Enma. Hiyori decided to entrust Enma to Zoro to express her gratitude for returning Shusui back to its former resting place.

Enma is by far the most difficult sword Zoro has ever used. Enma is unique in the fact that draws out the armament Haki of its wielder, allowing for some tremendous striking power, at the cost of draining a person's stamina and haki extensively. Its power is why Kozaburo named the sword Enma, after the King of Hell from the Japanese-Buddhist myth. Oden was the only person ever to tame Enma's wild nature, but like with Kitetsu III, Zoro found the challenge intriguing and took the blade. Initially, Zoro had some trouble fully utilizing Enma when fighting both Kaido and King, but in the most recent chapter, he earned the sword's trust.

One Piece's worldbuilding isn't just good because of the grand sweeping locations and factions, but the work that has gone into giving various items, such as swords, their own history, and legacy. It's these little details that make the world and characters feel so much richer and interconnected. The fact that Zoro's swords are not simply tools but have a bit of story behind each of them sticks in your mind, especially in the different ways Zoro obtained each blade. It'll take some well-earned swords for this Pirate Hunter to be one day be called The Worlds Greatest Swordsman.

Nami three-sword style art by Oda for One Piece Magazine 13.
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