I. Choosing a Japanese Sword...

I.  Choosing a Japanese Sword...

The Japanese sword, shrouded in myth, is coveted by collectors and practitioners alike.  For some of us, the sword becomes a passion and there is always something more to learn. The process to commissioning our very own sword can be daunting.

Let's start with who we are and what we do:

SwordStore.com works with some of Japan's finest smiths (Toshyo).  These toshyo undergo strict apprenticeships and must not only master their crafts but be licensed by the Japanese government to make their traditional swords.

Each smith is an artist, often a master of many styles or schools of sword making (Ryuha).  But each smith has his own style, form of self expression and every work is a unique creation of form, function and art.  

Toshyo at work

 SwordStore.com will match you with the master smith that most fits your design specifications.  We work with roughly 10% of Japan's active, award winning Toshyo, representing various schools of blade making.  We navigate Japanese sword culture to bring together the best of not only the smith but the many superb artisans that come together to bring a Japanese sword to completion.

Pictured here is a private reserve of a smith's tamahagane or iron sand.  It is the main component used in making the the traditional carbon steel blade.

Many smiths obtain this material from Japan's only tatara.  Some smiths maintain their own secret sources and some go so far as to keep it hidden below the floorboards of their own homes. 



We've all marveled at photos of fine blades. An entire language has formed around describing what exists within a blade being viewed.  There is excitement in the fact that every blade is different.  Regardless of the toshyo's masterful skills, the moulten steel, the color of the fire, the application of the clays, always dance together to become something unique.  Clients might want something duplicated from an image or a blade that they've viewed, and often the smith can approximate, but never duplicate a blade that has come before.

We will ask you about your purpose for commissioning a fine Japanese blade.  Whether you are a collector or wish to start collecting, a practitioner in training, we can help you define your needs and bring your dream project to life.

Let's start with blade geometry with is defined by shape and character.  Some smiths prefer to make longer or shorter, lighter or more substantial blades.  All have preferences about the activity seen in the steel, the curvature (sorii) of the blade and shape of the point (boshi or kissaki).


A finished work is a piece of art, unique in personality, and a reflection of the expertise of the toshyo, and the artisans that polish (Togishi) and make the sword furniture (Kanagu). SwordStore.com can assist with your designs for your personalized sword. 

There are rules for Japanese sword making that must be adhered to, governing everything from materials to shape. By law, every blade must be registered, and every tang (Nakago) must be signed (Mei).  SwordStore.com only provides swords that are licensed and authenticated by the Japanese government.

The process for commissioning a Japanese shinken or shinsakuto, can not be automated.  We hone (pardon the pun) your needs thru a series of questions to determine the kind of sword you desire.  We negotiate with the smith that is a proper fit for your project and offer suggestions as needed.

Construction times for swords vary by smith but can often be made in 5 to 6 months.  Sometimes, a client prefers a pre-existing blade or an antique and SwordStore.com can help with these acquisitions as well. 

Below: Each of these hamon or sword patterns are different. Each is made by the same toshyo.  Professional toshyo can make a sword to various specifications but each has their own preference that they prefer to express in their work.

There are many terms to express all of the activity that can be seen in a beautifully crafted Japanese sword.  The activity in the steel emerges with the skills of the polisher (togishi).  There are various levels of polish available.  Practitioners of sword arts typically obtain a martial arts polish.  Collectors prefer a museum like finish (Kanshyo yo).