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Who is considered the foremost polisher in Japan?

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Who has had polishing services done in Japan by a named togoshi?

Who do the Japanese recognise as the big names and what periods of swords do they excel at?

 

Thank you

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You can probably generate a list of togishi who polish juto & above, but I doubt you'll find a "foremost" individual.

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Saito: Foremost polisher for Soshu work, this is where Masamune and top work by his students should go. Also highly skilled in Hitatsura work. 

Dodo: Excellent with Bizen masterpieces, top sashikomi artist, very well suited for swords with Choji. 

 

These polishers, especially the top one, will not take just any sword and will need an introduction by someone in the milieu who can vouch for you. You give the sword, you wait, and one day you get the sword back and a bill. And if the sword isn't up to their standards, or you've shown yourself to be insensitive to Japanese norms ("Can you polish this Shimada tanto?" "Can I get a discount because the existing polish is still ok? How about we make the polish this way. I just want hadori work, please. It's been two years, where is my sword?"), you probably will wait five years or more or get your sword back without work done. Add to that, you will need an intermediary to navigate these delicate social waters, who will be risking his own standing within Japanese society by vouching for you. 

 

As a more local and less cryptic alternative, I wholeheartedly recommend Ted Tenold as probably the best outside Japan. His abilities are recognized by Japanese experts who comment positively on the quality of his polish on fine swords.

 

These are just broad recommendations, and this topic is vast and deserves an in-depth analysis by someone with in the milieu.

 

The best route is always to ask Tanobe-Sensei what polisher he recommends for the job. 

 

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I have no access to Tanobe Sensei.

Paul Martin doesn't I'm told.

I have a hitatsura hamon sword that I need done if Ted is my best ”insensitive” option then that's probably where I'll go.

Afraid a five year wait for me is sadly undesirable.

I'll talk to Ted.

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The reality is there are so many polishers in Japan.... Saito san,  Abe san, Mishina san, Fujishiro san, Honami, Dodo san, etc - all mukansa. Then you have their deshi. 

Sasaki san is another mukansa with top work.

Ikeda san, Mizuta san,  Usuki san, Tsuyoshi san, etc etc etc the list goes on and on.


Paul Martin has access to many Japanese polishers - he facilitated a sword of mine being polished by Ono san. Why don’t you ask him?

I have had a different sword polished by Dodo san. I have had one by Sei san.. They were all good. Admittedly none of those was hitatsura. 
 

Ted is one of the best choices outside of Japan, but he is in the US. 

 

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On 9/9/2020 at 8:10 PM, BenVK said:

Is Louis Skebo still polishing? might be worth contacting him to ask.

Louis is into large lumber milling and snow mobiles now and I don't think he has polished in a while !

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I've spoken to Louis, he is indeed in a far better place now he is out of the nihonto grip and getting stuck into wonderful projects . 

I think it always stays with you the bug... but better it doesn't control your life as it can for some.

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It simply starts with what do you have?

 

With what you have you pursue a good individual in that field who specializes in those swords.

 

That's all.

 

Louis as good intentioned as he is, being mentioned in the same thread as top level Japanese polishers, this is kind of inappropriate.

 

It really depends on what it is. Foreigners are so brand limited that they want to drop everything on one guy. And it's just not done like that in Japan. You send something to the guy who has the best skills in that zone for the effect you want to obtain. There is no such thing as a "best polisher" any more than there is a "best car". It depends on what the goals are and what you have to work with.

 

You don't wanst junk swords being worked on by the top polishers, there is no point. "YOU CAN'T MAKE A SILK PURSE OUT OF A SOW'S EAR" ... but you can make a sow's ear out of a silk purse so you must choose well.

 

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I don't own many swords and none of them have I had polished though I have some mounting projects going, a less damaging greenhorn vice. Polishing is a very serious decision. These items cannot be improved, only preserved. Unless a sword is in a bad state, leave it be.

Many collectors get tempted to have blades polished when they often do not need it save our desire to have it appear new and shiny, which even in the best hands requires removal of steel.

 

Polishers need to eat too so I assume not many, even in Japan besides very top guys will raise a flag if a blade is not in need of work beyond a cosmetic face lift to appease a new owner. Over a few centuries that adds up.

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I don't think it is just new and shiny

The only way you can fully appreciate a good sword is by seeing it as close to when it was made

This is what the maker and owner saw

Also I have one sword where I can get a basic opinion but all the replies have stated that they can tell me more after it has been polished

Once a sword has been polished the owner will ensure it stays in an A1 condition so it's never going to need another polish for many years

Polishing is just correcting an item that hasn't been looked after correctly

Just my opinion

 

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