Thread: shinken?
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Old 08-27-2012, 04:40 PM   #22
Keith Larman
Dojo: AIA, Los Angeles, CA
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,604
Re: shinken?

Yes Bugei's blades are made at Hanwei specifically for Bugei. They are made to our specific designs and specifications. On the Peace Sword, for instance, I specified a metal kojiri of very precise dimensions. The intention was to force them to make the saya for this particular model with a different set of dimensions to make it more consistent with the saya most people train with on iaito from Japan. I also specified to the mm the distance of the kurikata from the koiguchi, again trying to address an issue with placement that I would like to fix. The blade cross section and geometry is unique to that sword and was spec'ed by me to match a rather famous blade by the first generation Tadayoshi of the Hizen School. Which is why it has a suguha hamon and why I asked that the steel be folded an extra time to create a finer hada. Which itself causes a vastly finer and more subtle interaction in the habuchi (transition zone between hard and soft) where the fine hada is "tracked" by the transitional structures. All in all the idea was to make something more suited towards martial arts training but with a number of subtle nods towards historical pieces. Of course these are still sub $2000 swords and you can't even get a decent polish for what they cost let alone an entire sword. And once they arrive at Bugei I get to take a 3 hour drive down and spend a day (or 2 or 3) going through all the swords. I inspect, shake, swing, flex, look over, then fix, tweak, tear apart if necessary, and even sometimes do major repairs to make damned sure they're right before they go out.

Bugei then repacks them in custom made double-walled boxes with custom made foam inserts. The boxes are worth their weight in gold if you ever have to ship or transport a sword fwiw. They also replace the chinese made cleaning/maintenance kit with an authentic kit they buy from Japan (after I complained long and hard enough about the uchiko in the Hanwei kit being too abrasive they finally decided to just bite the bullet and buy large boxes full of kits from japan and eat the extra cost).

I will also get asked to shorten handles sometimes. Or rewrap. Or rewrap with a different material. Or change menuki. Or make new tsuka with new fittings. Or whatever. All things you can get through Bugei on their swords.

They also offer all their Bugei exclusives with a few choices on things like tsuka length and blade length. On the dragonfly you can get it with or without bo-hi. On the wave you can specify all sorts of options for colors, bo-hi, lengths, etc. All for vastly less than an entry level custom sword or sword from Japan.

Is it the same? No, of course not. But it is something between the "bic lighter" type swords many use as starter pieces and getting a custom sword or an antique.

That's about it in a nutshell. Nothing more, nothing less.

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