Polishing The polishing of a Japanese sword is an art in its own right. To become a professional togi-shi, or sword polisher, in Japan, traditionally has required an 8-10 year apprenticeship with a master togi-shi. One sees many do-it-yourself amateurs in the U.S. and elsewhere. Don't be fooled-there are no short cuts to a proper restoration. Anyone that tells you otherwise is either misinformed or a scam artist. If you value your sword, do not allow an amateur to touch it; once the steel has been removed, there is no way to reverse the damage. Only let a professional, fully trained in Japan, near it. Always ask for references.
I offer two different polishing services: I bring Japanese professionals to the US for several months each summer. All polishing and restoration is done in the US and turnaround time is 3 months! All the quality you expect in Japan without the shipping, import/export and agent expenses, nor the wait. Spaces are limited, however, and I encourage anyone interested to contact me well in advance.
The other option is to send the blade to Japan.
There are many untrue rumors that circulate about sending swords to Japan for restoration; contrary to what you may have heard, the Japanese authorities will not seize your sword, losses in shipping are nil, and insurance is available.
Many people send swords to Japan to one of the big sword organizations, or dealers, for polishing. There is no problem with this, but consider the following:
More middlemen means more money out of your pocket. These organizations use their own agent for import/export registration and as a result, you pay more.
I handle all communication and coordination with the craftsman.
Who is doing the actual work on your sword?The master, or his students? Usually, the students will be doing a major portion of the work, and you will be paying full price.
I know who is doing the work-the master, and not students.
If you have a question or a problem, or wish to check the status of your blade, can you communicate with them in a timely manner? Can you speak Japanese?
I can be reached by telephone or e-mail anytime, and speak both English and Japanese. I am in constant contact with the craftsman.
Can you wait 2-3 years?
Usually turnaround time for a polish is about a year.
Do you mind paying full retail prices?
I get special "wholesale" rates from the craftsman because I know them personally, and give them quite a bit of business.
I have a list of people who have sent blades to me for polishing and other restoration services. I would be happy to provide this list of references to anyone who asks...
Meet the Craftsman:
Nakamura Yutaka, Togi-shi
Sugiura Masayoshi, Saya-shi
Arai Shizuo, Shirogane-shi
Price List for Restoration
Polishing costs vary with length, width, and the condition of the blade. Approximate prices for a full-length sword (27 inch katana) in average condition (without deep rust, chips, or bends) averages $3000. Wakizashi, $2200, and tanto, $1500. This is a juyo-quality polish.
Habaki can be made in copper, solid silver, or gold foil. A solid silver, one piece habaki for a katana costs roughly $300. Copper, about $250, and a one piece, gold foil habaki costs $500. More complicated designs and materials are available by order.
Shirasaya cost $450 for a katana, $400 for a wakizashi, and $350 for a tanto.
Additionally, when sending a sword to Japan, import/export licenses and registration is necessary. This adds roughly $500 for my time and expenses.
For more detailed information, please e-mail.