Custom services and Restoration:
We offer a wide selection of sword restoration services. Examples of work and references can be made available to you upon request.
Shirasaya (wooden storage case), using traditional Japanese honoki
Build your own Custom koshirae (see link for examples)
ireko-saya (inner saya: inside shirasaya or lacquered saya)
Tsunagi (wooden blade)
Tsuka-maki (handle wrapping)
Tsuka – new wooden core
- We can restore your existing item in most cases or create new, just show us, we’ll help you make the best decision.
- We offer these services in Japan or within the United States at your option.
- All restoration work is done by traditionally trained craftsmen in their area’s of expertise. No one self-trained works for us!!!
- It is important to note that each blade will have different needs of attention, some may need restoration, some may not need it at all, we will tell you which is the case. Prices will vary based on the individual sword.
- Turn around time is 3-12 months depending on what is to be done.
Please Contact us
For Japanese swords that warrant the honor.
We offer* Saya-gaki by Tanzan-sensei, Tanobe Michihiro (former director of research and top shinsa judge @ The NBTHK). Fee based plus mailing costs, please see further down for the costs of mailing “1) Mailing to Japan”.
A written opinion on shirasaya is called saya-gaki. A saya-gaki will include kakihan when performed by a notable person; if with none we only call it an inventory notation. The most common saya-gaki seen is by Mr. Tanobe Michihiro (Tanzan), his opinion is highly respected by collectors. Tanzan is translated as “Research Mountain”; it refers to his high regard and dedication to the research of nihonto. See one of his article’s, The Beauty of the Japanese Sword History and Traditional Technology.
*Your Japanese sword must be the equivalent of Tokubetsu Hozon quality or better in order for us to provide this service. If yours does not have NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon certificate yet we can submit for you.
Submission to shinsa (otherwise can be called an appraisal or official judgement by reputable Japanese organization) with the NBTHK, NTHK & NTHK-NPO provided in Japan
- NBTHK shinsa fees (see link), shinsa schedule (download PDF) note the schedule is the same each fiscial year.
- NTHK (Yoshikawa group)
- On occasion the NTHK and the NTHK-NPO will provide shinsa in the United States. We provide this service by taking your items personally, please contact us for scheduling. Your sword stays in the United States and is returned within 2 weeks, a shinsa worksheet with results is provided immediately, then the organization from Japan will issue a traditional paper certifying their opinion. In this case shinsa fee’s are due in advance. A receipt / invoice will be sent upon arrival for immediate payment.
- For the NTHK & NTHK-NPO we can send to Japan if you want shinsa sooner. Sessions are held nearly every month.
Mailing approximate fees :
1.) Mailing to Japan – Expected shipping / fees costs:
a.) Postage to Japan – estimated $75-125. Plus any insurance during shipment. Ask us for costs on tosogu (Japanese fittings).
b.) Torokusho (Japan Police registration) ¥ 6,300
c.) NBTHK Shinsa fees (see NBTHK‘s price list), Please ask us for NTHK & NTHK-NPO fees.
d.) Polishing, Shirasaya, Habaki, Restoration, custom koshirae, etc. work in japan fee differs according to what you want done.
e.) Postage for blade/certificate Japan to USA estimated $75-125 plus cost of return to you. Tosogu (Japanese fittings) will be less.
f.) Postage for blade/certificate back to you depends which country and method you want it mailed based on actual cost plus packaging.
g.) Japanese agent fee in Japan: agent fee in Japan is for the processing your items into and out of Japan* The agent fee is for person in Japan for their time and travel, handling each item for shinsa / restoration, etc. In detail- the agent fee covers: for time spent with postal customs clearance, police registration & Bunka Cho clearance in and out of the country, unpacking, repacking, time/ travel shinsa submission and any shipments within Japan.
2) Deposit of $500 per blade & 100 per tosogu (fitting) is required. This is applied to your requested services rendered.
***If you are an existing client – no deposit is required, you’ll pay on notice of success of shinsa or completion of craftsman work. Invoice is always due within two weeks of notice payable by wire transfer or cashier’s check. We will advise you of approximate timing of completion on acceptance to shinsa or by our craftsman so you can have funds available. The date given will be the time-due for payment for our services rendered. Our craftsmen and agent in Japan appreciate timely payments.
3) Upon receipt we’ll work to include your items in time for next shipment.
4) Update notices: We’ll keep you updated throughout process. Steps of notification: A) Receipt of your item(s); B) Mailing to Japan (with tracking if you request it); C) Arrival to Japan; D) Clearance through Japanese Post arrival and or customs (applicable to swords only); E) Which shinsa your items enters and approximate return date (usually 6-7 months from customs clearance and or arrival if with NBTHK) if other shinsa generally 2 months or less. F) If Saya-gaki, you’ll receive notice of arrival to Tanobe Michihiro sensei’s home for his review of consideration* of his saya-gaki then when he returns. If he gives written letter, we will provide you a copy with translation. We can have your sword back in Japan from saya-gaki in 3-6 months or less in most cases from time of his receipt. *We do not promise his saya-gaki, in some cases he will decline.
5) With submission of your sword to shinsa / saya-gaki, it’s important to be in polish, in shirasaya or koshirae. Your sword should be in good condition so it can adequately be judged. We cannot submit swords in poor condition and without in the least in shirasaya, please ask us for estimates to prepare your Japanese sword. If you don’t have a sword bag we’ll provide one for submission at the cost of given bag. If shirasaya is being made, new bag is included.
6) With Shinsa / Saya-gaki results: A) We’ll notify you on our receipt of notice of shinsa completion. B) We will provide you translation and picture of certificate and or Saya-gaki as applicable when we invoice you for services rendered before your item(s) leave Japan. You won’t have to wait until it returns to us! C) on receipt of items returning from shinsa, we will begin the return process and then next update you when items are shipped (tracking available on request).
7) If we are submitting to the NBTHK Juyo shinsa: Your item can be gone nearly a year or less before it is returned. You’ll be notified as we receive updates. It’s possible your sword will be selected for display in the museum, with this distinct privilege, you’ll receive your certificate and copy of Nado Zufu page about 1 year later. In this case this is necessary for their process of photography, oshigata, written data about your item in the Juyo Token Nado Zufu book. The last Tokubetsu Juyo shinsa was in 2022, it occurs just once every two years.
9) We will provide you cost for insurance to and from Japan on your item verbally and on invoice. We have never experienced any loss, our items sent to Japan are professional packaged with great care, in appropriate sized containers, kept secure throughout each step and treated with the utmost respect, no different than our own.
10) Finally before sending please let us know what services you might need if other than shinsa. We will send you a receipt via email for items received and what services you request.
See – Swords and Smiths Ratings Systems for information about the papers issued and their meanings.