A polisher of Japanese swords is a real master called Togishi. A Togishi possesses a wide collection of tools for polishing process. Mainly he handles polishing stones. These stones are pretty expensive and difficult to find. The types of stones vary by their degrees of softness and hardness.

Each Togishi has his own secrets and a mastery of polishing a blade. A professional polisher tends to achieve harmony and quality. It is evident that the art of each Togishi reveals the appurtenance to a specific school and period.

Stages of Polishing 
Each blade is unique; therefore each requires specific types of polishing. Though, there are two general polishing stages: Shitaji (lower polish), and Shiage (final polish).

Stage 1. Shitaji – Ground work. This is the step when grained stones are used to preserve the traditional slightly curved shape of the Japanese sword. This is why the stones have a gently curved surface (lengthwise and crosswise). This assures that the stones grains are parallel to the sword’s curvature and preserve the shape. The blade is pitched, twisted, pushed and pulled.

There are several stones used to get the final result:

 

    • Bisui – a very coarse stone, can easily damage the blade if used unwisely, but very efficient in removing the rust.

 

    • Kaisei – it is a recently used stone. Its purpose is to smooth the marks of a Busui stone.

 

    • Chunagura – a medium hard stone fine grained, comes after Kaisei to smooth even better the surface.

 

    • Komanagura – a reminiscence of Chunagura, it refines the Chunagura marks.

 

    • Hato – a very hard stone for finish touch. Many masters use it to create a hamon line.

 

    • Jito – the stone is the hardest one. It is used to work another pattern called Jihada. It has to be used with much care as it defines the final step of first stage and can easily damage or scratch the blade.

 

It is important to mention that Shitaji stage takes a great deal of time. It can last from 10 to 12 hours per day during four to six days!!!

Stage 2. Shiage – Final Polish.This stage consists in burnishing with a variety of tiny thin stones, a steel stylus and powder polishing.

Here are the general steps of the Shiage stage:

 

    • Tsuya – Creation of Jihada (skin) pattern. Jihada is a specific pattern of steel representing small pieces of raw material (Tama-hagane). It is worked with a Jizuya stone.

 

    • Nugui – is the technique which makes the Jihada withstand rust and other deteriorates. It features an infusion of oil and specific ground (Kanahada). Due to Nugui the sword takes on a darker color.

 

    • Hadori – Is a widely used technique to make a hamon line. It is characterized by the use of an oval Hazuya which finally creates a ‘white’ hamon.

 

    • Shitamigaki – Is a burnishing technique designed for a specific area of the blade: between the ridge running along the side of the blade, and the blade’s back. The final result is a mirror-polished finish.

 

    • Uemigaki – This technique uses Migakibo stone for a final polish.

 

    • Sugikiri – Sugikiri consists in burnishing the area at 90 degree angle at the tip of the blade (Yokote).

 

    • Narume – It is mainly used to polish the point of the blade. It is extremely difficult to work the point (kissaki). It should always be polished horizontally and with specific movements. By the way the kissaki is the part which indicates the period of manufacturing. It is about the length, the curvature, and the thickness of the point and sometimes of the blade (ken).

 

The Shiage stage can take about three days!!!

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