The Japanese word “Hashira” means “Pillar” in English.
The Hashira refers to the masters of individual sword styles in the Demon Slayer Corps that play the role of metaphorical “pillars” within the organisation. They are the most powerful swordsmen in Wisteria, that no ordinary demon slayer can match in skill.
The hashira are the “foundations” that hold up the fighting force of the entire Demon Slayer Corps. They embody the very meaning of the word Hashira which includes the sense of a “supporting structure”.
Wisteria and the Hashira
The founding family of Wisteria doesn’t have the physical strength to fight against demons. given that they are cursed with a hereditary illness.
Without the Hashiras, demon slayers stand no chance against the minions and the high-ranking demons of Muzan, the demon progenitor.
What Does Hashira mean in Japanese?
The term Hashira is a common Japanese word with a dictionary meaning of:
post, foundation, support, prop, and mainstay.
The kanji character for Hishira 柱 is a combination of two characters:
木, meaning tree, and
主, meaning main, principal, or lord.
Thus, the term 柱 (hashira) refers to “support” as a sturdy tree that “mainly” holds together a structure.
The kanji 柱 has an On-Yomi (Chinese reading) /chu/ (チュウ) and a Kun-Yomi (Japanese reading) /hashira/ (はしら). The Japanese use the Kun-Yomi to read the said kanji as an individual word.
The kanji 柱 (Hashira) is also sometimes used as a counter–attached to a Japanese number—when referring to several Buddhas, Gods, and nobles.
Who are the Hashiras?
The Hashira/pillars in the Demon Slayer Corps are the strongest swordsmen that use specific sword techniques in Westeria. Many of the Hashiras are descendants of families of demon slayers who are keepers of sword styles specifically developed to kill demons.
However, some of the Hashiras are not descendants of the keeper of the sword style.
Giyu, the Water Hashira, for example, is only picked by the former Water Hashira, Sakonji, among his students.
Among the known families that pass on the original hashira sword styles to their descendants are the:
- Kanroji family (love)
- Iguro family (Serpent)
- Tokito Family (Mist)
- Kuwajima family (Thunder)
- and the Rengoku family (fire)
Background of the Demon Slayer Corps and the Hashiras
The original members of the Demon Slayer Corps of the Wisteria didn’t have sword-style breathing techniques. They used to only fight demons using ordinary sword techniques like samurai.
The young protégé, Yoriichi Tsugikuni, developed his own fighting style after his wife and young child were killed by a demon. He devoted himself to mastering his sword technique at a young age and hunting down Muzan Kibutsuji, the master and demon progenitor. His efforts resulted in the Sun Breathing technique—the only sword technique that can kill Muzan.
When he joined the Demon Slayer Corps, he taught his technique to his twin brother, who is also a demon slayer. They practise every day to master the sword technique. But no matter how much he tries, Yoriichi’s twin brother could not replicate the Sun breathing technique for some reason.
To catch up to his twin, Yoriichi, Kokushibo developed his own breathing technique –the moon breathing technique—and taught it to the other demon slayers. Both Yoriichi and Kokushibo work hard to teach other demon slayers their sword styles but to no avail. None of them are compatible with the Sun Breathing and the Moon breathing techniques.
Kokushibo encouraged other demon slayers to develop their own sword techniques based on the principles of the Sun Breathing technique. This resulted in the current sword breathing techniques that the current Hashiras use.
The demon slayers’ sword and breathing technique are derived from the Sun Breathing technique. Those who mastered their own breathing technique became the first Hashiras of the Demon Slayer Corps, including Yoriichi and Kokushibo.
The Techniques of The Original Hashiras
While many of the names of the original Hashiras were not mentioned in the manga, their techniques were considered the firsts after the Sun breathing technique (日の呼吸, hi no kokyū). Among the original breathing techniques that were directly derived from the Sun breathing technique are:
- Water Breathing Technique (水の呼吸, Mizu no kokyū)
- Flame Breathing Technique (炎の呼吸, honō no kokyū)
- Thunder Breathing Technique (雷の呼吸, Kaminari no kokyū)
- Stone Breathing Technique (岩の呼吸, Iwa no kokyū)
- Wind Breathing Technique (風の呼吸, Kaze no kokyū)
- Moon Breathing Technique (月の呼吸, Tsuki no kokyū)
Among all the derived breathing techniques, the Flame Breathing technique is the closest to the Sun Breathing technique.
Article by John Salinas.
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