II. What Goes Into Making a Custom Shinken?
In order to find the correct smith for your project, we have to determine what you want in a Japanese made shinken.
First, let's talk about blade geometry: Most often, people think of the "Katana" when thinking about the Japanese sword. These artisans are also perfectly capable of making longer blades called "Tachi", shorter blades called "Wakizashi" and daggers called "Tanto". Some want a matched 2 sword set called "Daishyo" that is usually a katana and a wakizashi.
Once the blade geometry is determined, we want to determine your purpose of ownership. For the most part, the value in a blade is found more with the person that made it, and as identified in the signature or "mei" than in the steel itself. Collectors want to obtain the most highly sought after smith possible for the least cost. Whereas a practitioner might prefer a practical blade for daily use. And use can vary from practicing in the air to cutting targets. We want to know the kinds of targets as well - because this can dictate the type of polish required. And yes, you've guessed it, we have to talk about which type of polish your want, higher polish means greater expense.
We can't cover the entire list of selections someone might have in selecting this highly personal weapon but we can point out some...
Today's swords are arguably the best that have ever been made: The toshyo and togi work together and have a more profound understanding of the metallurgy and science behind making a custom sword.
By custom, each smith sets his own policies on everything from pricing, to which artisans he works with. This is important as some blade marks interpreted outside of Japan as flaws might actually be the signature of the smith. The togi might work with a superior togi, in which a basic polish might look better than the work of another polisher and therefore offer greater value to the client.
And so it goes, for the persons that makes the sword collar (Habakishi), the scabbard maker (Sayashi), the lacquerer (Nurishi), and the handle wrapper (Itoshi).
Each togishi also determines what blemishes if any are acceptable in the finished product. Swordstore.com does not work with apprentice or hobbyist smiths. We only work with experienced professionals whom live their lives by making the finest Japanese swords possible.
This sword was made by a famous Kobe smith who prefered to make only "boars-neck" (stubby chu kissaki) style points (boshi). He is valued for being able to make some of the finest "Suguha" style "Hamon" today. As the client, you will want to discuss the "activity" in the blade including the pattern known as hamon, of which suguha is one style.
One of the elements that you can select is the style of point or boshi that best reflects your interests. Chu Kissaki is most requested and is seen in this photograph.
C2 Hamon is another element that you can select.
This boshi is on a sword that has no groove (bo hi). We would discuss whether you prefer having the groove, the style of groove, or even having no groove at all.
C4This is the boar's neck point.
C5This boshi is on a sword that has a groove (bo hi).
C6There are different patterns and shapes available in shinken construction.
D1 Polish brings out the best in a blade. Look for a well defined "Yokote" line and "Matsuba" to help determine quality.
Another view of the "Choji" hamon with "Itame" graining.
This hamon is closer to the habaki. The first time a sword is polished the edge nearest to the habaki is left unsharpened.
Blade activity ranges from extremely subtle as found in suguha to very active such as choji.