The following section contains spoilers for the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba "Swordsmith Village Arc," which is now airing on Crunchyroll.

Tanjiro Kamado has relied heavily on the nichirin sword created especially for him by swordsmith Hotaru Haganezuka since his first battles as a demon slayer. After completing the Demon Slayer Corps Final Selection trials, Tanjiro first encountered the masked Mr. Haganezuka. When Mr. Urokodaki arrived at Tanjiro's house, he presented him with a sword he couldn't stop raving about, displaying for the first time how enthusiastic he was about swordsmithing. Haganezuja never revealed his true identity.

Even when Tanjiro arrived at the Butterfly Mansion with Inosuke's swordsmith during the "Rehabilitation Training" arc, both wore the same sort of hyottoko mask, which neither removed throughout the visit. This piqued my interest in swordsmith culture. Was it merely a depiction of their trade or a fashion statement from the Taisho era? Or did it serve a useful purpose? As the "Swordsmith Village" arc progressed, viewers were given an inside peek at the town Haganezuka and the other swordsmiths reside in, as well as an explanation for why they keep their faces hidden and their location hidden.


What Are Hyottoko Masks?

Why Do Demon Slayer's Swordsmith Villagers Wear Masks?_0

Japanese wooden festival masks known as hyottoko are commonly used to depict funny figures, as evidenced by their ridiculous expressions. Hyottoko are typically seen in humorous festival dance events, with puckered mouths that slant to the side and irregularly spaced eyes. They occasionally wear white scarves with blue polka dots, similar to Hotaru Haganezuka.

One of the more intriguing aspects of the hyottoko mask and its employment by the Swordsmith Village residents is that some believe hyottoko is a perversion of the word "hiotoku," which means "fire man." These masks' puckered mouths stretch to the side in an expression reminiscent of blowing fire through a bamboo straw. This mask is a clever representation for everyone in the town because swordsmiths work closely with fire in their forges.


How Do Hyottoko Masks Keep Swordsmith Village's Location Safe?

Why Do Demon Slayer's Swordsmith Villagers Wear Masks?_1

The nichirin blades used by the Demon Slayer Corps are absolutely essential. Because of how they are crafted, they can do the one thing a typical blade can't: cut through the neck of a demon to sever the head from the body. Over the years, Muzan has worked tirelessly to discover the location of the Swordsmith Village, believing that wiping out the makers of those nichirin blades would make it impossible for demon slayers to kill demons. For this reason, the location of the Swordsmith Village is kept hidden, even from members of the Demon Slayer Corps.

Even though demon slayers are welcome to visit the village, precautions are taken before they depart to keep the village's location a secret. Before setting out from the Butterfly Mansion to thank Mr. Haganezuka for repairing his blade, Tanjiro's eyes and ears were blocked, so he couldn't commit his travels to memory through landmarks or familiar sounds. Due to his keen sense of smell, the Kakushi who began the journey with him on her back also made him wear nose plugs. Because demon slayers all possess unique abilities and training, they must be carried along the path, and not just by a single Kakushi. To ramp up protective measures, Kakushi trade off at certain locations along the route so that not even they know the full path to reach Swordsmith Village.

Precautions go beyond guarding the path's location, extending to every swordsmith in the village. Whether traveling away from the village or moving through its streets, each and every villager does their part. It starts with protecting their identities.


Why do all Swordsmiths in Demon Slayer Wear Masks?

Why Do Demon Slayer's Swordsmith Villagers Wear Masks?_2

Swordsmiths rarely leave their village, though there are some exceptions. Haganezuka, for example, travels abroad to deliver swords to the demon slayers, requiring him to take special safety measures. Not only does he protect his identity from the world outside the village but from his fellow swordsmiths as well. If one of them were to be caught and tortured by demons for information, they couldn't reveal the identities of their colleagues. Even when traveling within the village, they wear their masks. So, unless they're direct family, chances are they don't even know what their closest friends look like underneath the mask.

During the battle with Upper Rank Five, Haganezuka was unmasked, revealing his face to his fellow swordsmith and Gyokko, the nearby demon slayers, and audiences. This revelation gave fans a whole new appreciation for the hot-tempered swordsmith, who was surprisingly handsome behind his mask — possibly even more handsome than Inosuke Hashibira, hiding his glorious mug underneath that boar mask. With Gyokko finally obliterated, Haganezuka's identity remains safe for the time being, but fans can't help wondering what Tanjiro and the other demon slayers present thought.

All 11 episodes of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba's "Swordsmith Village Arc" are now available to stream on Crunchyroll.