Sashikomi

There are two main types of sword polish available currently. It’s likely the case that neither are the original style of polishing a sword nor is that even something that we should be thinking about. 

The goal of polishing is primarily functional: remove rust and chips, and make the edge fine. The more you used your sword to fight the more frequently you would have to polish it as a result. The concept of artistic polishing that enhances the beauty of the sword is something that comes with the goal of preserving the sword and appreciating it for something more than a simple tool of war. 

When I started collecting a long time ago now, there were people who fervently supported the idea of sashikomi polish in all cases in the mistaken idea that it is somehow more authentic or better for appreciating swords. As with many things, taking an imbalanced viewpoint can bring you to the wrong conclusion.

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A better way

With some help from Ted Tenold, I’ve put together a nice modern sword care kit to replace the uchiko-based kits-o-death that are commonplace destroyers of swords everywhere.

I’m supplying these for free to first time buyers of high quality swords from my site. So if you were looking for a reason to drop $50,000 on a sword, it has arrived.

Rejoice!

Send money.

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Oil your nakago

Japanese books say to leave the nakago (the tang of the sword) to age, because the condition of the nakago indicates how old it is.

I think this is good advice for the mid-1600s. But we are past the Edo period now. Swords are historical treasures. If we continue to let nakago “age gracefully” then there is a future where they turn into dust.

Not now, not next century, but not so far past that.

The black oxidated state of nakago are fairly stable, but not perfectly stable. Otherwise, there would be no “graceful aging” at all. Logically, we cannot have it both ways, that the nakago is safe from eroding away and that different period nakago will show different aging conditions. If these nakago were not slowly rotting away on a centuries timescale, then they would hit a stable point and then never change. 

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