1. At the beginning of the treatment, please prepare the proper treatment kit, which should include:
*A stick to pull out the mekugi (sword’s stopper) with, this stick is called a mekugi-nuki.
*Treatment oil (see note about oil in the end)
*Paper to wipe the blade with (see note about paper at the end)
*A piece of cloth called a Fukusa, to hold the blade with, this is so that there is no actual contact of bare hands to the sword.
*Uchi-ko (small silk bag filled with ground whetstone)
*A swab of cotton or some paper to spread the oil with
2. Clear a nice space that is both stable and level.
3. To begin, please hold the saya (scabbard) of the sword with both hands and bow slightly to the sword to show your respect to the sword.
4. First, you must draw the sword. Hold the sword with the cutting edge up. Hold the saya with your left hand from underneath using a forward holding position. Hold the tsuka (hilt) from above with the right hand. The initial pull should be made very carefully. Draw out only the habakiﾕs (collar) length. Next, holding the blade very still, pull it entirely out of the saya very slowly. Make sure that the cutting edge never faces down or sideways. Put the saya on a flat surface.
5. Lay down the mounted blade and push the mekugi (stopper) out in preparation for removing the tsuka.
6. To remove the tsuka, hold its end with the left hand on the side where the back of the blade is fit. And keep the blade in a slightly angled upright position. Use the right fist to hit the left wrist lightly a few times. When the tang (nakago) becomes slightly loosened in the tsuka, repeat until the tang comes out of the tsuka by itself. When there is enough room to grasp the tang, the blade may be pulled out of the tsuka using the right hand.
Be careful not to hit the left wrist too hard with the right hand, as there is a danger that blades with short tangs、 like tanto、 might bounce out of the tsuka entirely. Therefore, the initial impact must be light, just to check how tightly the tang is fixed in the tsuka. Then, the force of subsequent blows may be adjusted accordingly. Also, keep track of the mekugi, it is easy to lose, so put it back in the tsuka so as not to lose it.
7. If the blade is mounted in a full koshirae, other attachments such as a tsuba (swordguard), and seppa (spacers), and the habaki (collar) must be removed in preparation for the cleaning. Lay them carefully aside.
8. First, do a preliminary cleaning. Down near the tang, place your cleaning paper on the back of the blade. Fold it over both sides of the blade from the back. Hold the paper from the back with your thumb and forefinger. Hardly any force is needed. Gently wipe the blade from bottom to top. Use hardly any pressure or friction when you get to the point of the blade, this area must be treated with great care.
9. Next, hold the sword as before, and working from tang to point, lightly powder the blade with the uchiko on one side and then the next. You should gently pat the blade at about one-inch intervals. Follow this by wiping the blade with a clean paper, as in the previous step.
10. Once all of the Uchiko-powder is off, the hamon and jitetsu should appear clearly. Turn the blade toward a bare electric light bulb. Support the blade using a fukusa (cloth). Make sure not to touch the blade with your hands. Admire the blade and appreciate it. Carefully examine the work of the jitetsu and hamon.
11. After a thourough appreciation, hold the blade again as you did when you did the wiping. Put oil on the swab of cotton or cloth, and coat the blade lightly with oil. Do not use too much oil, this is a common mistake and is not necessary. A very light coat of oil is all that your sword needs.
12. Put the habaki, seppa, tsuba and other seppa back on the nakago of the blade in the correct order.
13. Remove the mekugi from the hilt. Put the tang back in the hilt. Keep holding the blade in the hilt with the left hand, and hit the bottom of the hilt lightly with the palm of the right hand. The tang should settle firmly into the hilt. When the tang is fixed in its perfect position, replace the mekugi.
14. Hold the hilt with the right hand. With your left hand, take the scabbard. Put the point of the sword, facing up, and rest it gently in the opening of the scabbard. Holding the blade still, slide it gently into the scabbard. Do this in such a way that you are actually pulling the saya toward the blade. When the habaki reaches the opening of the scabbard, a final firm push will be necessary to make a firm close.
15. Bow to the sword once again to show respect.
1. Generally, Chyoji oil has been used to treat Japanese swords. This is a sticky vegetable oil traditionally used in cleaning swords. It promotes ozidization of the blade that will result in rust in the future. In our opinion, and based on our experience. We not advise you to use chyoji oil. We suggest that you use high-quality machine oil on your sword. This is the same type used when maintaining guns or sewing machines, and it is the only oil that we use with our swords at Aoi Art.
2. A kind of Japanese paper called nugiu-gami can be used to wipe off the swords, but we find that high quality tissues work just as well. [Make sure if you are using tissues that they are free of any sort of additive (such as scented, aloe vera, vitamin E facial tissues, etc)].
3. If you appreciate the same sword frequently, it is not always necessary to repeat this entire process. The Japanese sword does not rust easily, so it is not necessary to apply uchi-ko too often. In fact, using the uchiko too frequently could result in slight scratches and over time the texture of the jitetsu will lose its brightness. Please realize that the uchi-ko is made of a fine powdered whetstone known as uchigumori-to. Occasional care and caution when maintaining your sword is good. Excessive cleaning however, will cause damage, so please be careful.