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  1. Not only that, but a great many of the up-and-coming swordsmiths in Japan rely on commissions from martial artists to keep them funded while they try to polish their talent for making art swords (and then become well-known enough that people commission art swords from them). Not everyone can gain a foothold in the market by being the apprentice of a high-profile smith!
  2. That's a good point, I'm used to not using uchiko and hadn't considered the effect of leftover uchiko from prior owners.
  3. I second Logan's recommendation of isopropyl alcohol, wiped down vigorously with a thick microfibre towel/cloth to make sure all the little crevices get cleaned.
  4. On Youtube there's some clips of Shin muso Hayashizaki Ryu paired waza. These demonstrate the fast draw and use of a roughly 3 shaku blade against a wakizashi at close range, and with surprising speed/maneuverability considering the length of the sword. The founder of the school lived during the late 1600s and 1700s and supposedly used a blade over 3 shaku in length.
  5. If the rust is very new, microfibre and isopropyl/denatured alcohol (99.5% or higher) can sometimes get rid of it with no risk to the polish.
  6. As an aside, they're also commonly used as upper back massagers by hospitals and respiratory therapists to ease chest congestion in babies and small children.
  7. Even mukansa smiths would have made swords for practical use to pay the bills in the many years before they achieve mukansa status. These swords, while often beautiful to look at, have durability, balance and/or cutting ability prioritized over art appreciation, and typically have a lower-grade polish that won't be much affected by a few scratches here and there. Works from high-ranking modern smiths but in a style they're not famed or prized for can also get designated as "suitable for iai" - for example, the katana linked above is by Kanekuni, who (along with his father) is renowned for his Sukehiro-esque toranba and won prizes for submitting blades in that style. His Mino-style works, such as the one in the Aoi-Art link, are therefore seen as not particularly high in desirability, as these aren't what won him fame and prestige, and thus get added to the "iai" pile. Add to that the fact that this blade was made in 1992, a full 17 years before he was awarded mukansa status, so even if it was among his upper tier works at the time, it can't compete with the upper tier of his works at the height of his prowess and renown. Much easier for a seller to hedge their bets and market it as suitable for the martial arts crew, who aren't as concerned with style or name recognition.
  8. Newly polished blades apparently "sweat" water for a few weeks after and need to be wiped down and reoiled regularly; polishers in the old style would therefore finish their polish with the expectation of several passes of uchiko within the first few months of its lifetime. With microfibre and denatured alcohol, there's no need for uchiko in modern times, but a great deal of collectors still use it because of tradition.
  9. Some reasons a sword might look "settled down": Rust/corrosion due to insufficient or infrequent oiling A film of dried oil due to too much oiling/not enough removal of oil over time Abrasion of polish due to use of uchiko The sword was meant for practical use and thus didn't get a full artistic polish The type of polish best suited to the sword simply didn't exist at the time, and the original polish now looks rustic by comparison As others have pointed out, a good polish should last centuries with the correct maintenance (read: NOT uchiko) and barring acts of kami.
  10. Knew who it was before I even got to the mei... and yes, very pretty indeed!
  11. Quite correct, however a) If you are unlucky, you will encounter a customs officer who knows their stuff, and will impound it on the proviso that it will be sent out, without import tax or handling fees, if you can provide the proof of purchase being under the $1000 threshold b) Legislation is now in the works to lower, or even eliminate, said duty-free threshold That said, there is no penalty for hitting scenario a) as if you are "caught out" you can simply state that the sender mislabeled the actual value without your input (which is something that has actually happened to me - the importer lowered the value of their own accord, but the lowered value was still above the duty threshold!) There is one other thing to be careful of - concealed weapons (such as sword canes and mounted kogatana) face stricter import laws than regular weapons and may fall afoul of the customs check - again, depending on who checks the item. Just to be safe, I typically ask if the kozuka/kogatana can be sent separately to the main koshirae, at which point it becomes a "letter opener" and comes through with no problem at all Aside from that, Bazza is spot-on - the government's only real concern regarding swords (and other large traditional weapons) is collecting their duty rather than stopping them from coming in. Anecdotally, in my state (WA) the only real consequence of a healthy sword collection is having a reputation as a bit of a weirdo!
  12. Worth noting that the same seller has also posted a 1st edition of the GH Naunton collection by Joly and is offering a deal on combined shipping if both are bought together. There is also a Kaga Kinko book but it is very heavy so if you're not in Australia, expect the bill to be on the high end.
  13. It's a lovely and very interesting little blade... makes you wonder how many modern smiths' work would look closer to the unrivalled swordsmiths of yore with the same amount of polishing and reshaping that a 700-year old sword would see.
  14. Assuming we're speaking about historical smiths, for me it would be option 3 - the max best sword could have been a fluke, a gassaku or daisaku, or even made using different steel to the norm and thus cannot be used as an accurate benchmark. And for the average output, I don't begrudge anyone for doing what they have to in order to make a living - sometimes the client just wants something quick, cheap and effective. Even smiths today do it; there was a website a few years ago that sold an Ono Yoshimitsu blade that he had made for his own iai practice - it's very, very different to the fantastic stuff he usually puts out for his art swords, but I don't think it should drag down his overall 'appreciation rating'.
  15. Does it have a standalone habaki, or is it integrated with the shirasaya?
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