1. The Basics of Nihonto Handling
Keep all Nihonto, whether stored in Shirasaya (plain wooden scabbards) or Koshirae (formal mountings), safely tucked away in their sword bags. Be cautious to enter the Kojiri (scabbard's head) into the bag first to prevent accidental falls.
When moving a sword, ensure you hold the Saya (scabbard) with your right hand, keeping the Tsuka (hilt) upwards and the blade downwards to avoid dangerous accidents.
1.3 Drawing the Sword:
Never let the hilt drop lower than the scabbard when drawing out a mounted sword. The registration card should be securely tied to the scabbard or sewn onto the sword bag. In Japan, it's a legal requirement to keep the sword and its registration card together.
2. Steps to Draw and Sheath Your Nihonto
2.1 Drawing the Sword:
While drawing a Tachi or Katana, make sure to hold the cutting edge up. The scabbard should be grasped from underneath with the left hand in a forward holding position, while the hilt is held from above with the right hand. Be extremely careful when initially pulling the blade from the scabbard.
2.2 Sheathing the Sword:
When returning the blade to the scabbard, the process is much the same as when drawing. The cutting edge should always face up and should never be moved sideways.
3. Nihonto Maintenance - Tools & Procedures
3.1 Tools Required:
Several tools are essential for Nihonto maintenance, including Mekugi-nuki, Uchiko, Nuguigami, Abura, Abura-nuguishi, and others like a wooden hammer and benzene if necessary.
3.2 Sword Care Procedure:
The primary goal of sword care is to prevent steel surface oxidation or rust. The maintenance procedure involves a series of steps such as removing the hilt, cleaning the blade, oiling, and reassembling.
4. Preserving Your Nihonto
4.1 Rust Management:
Despite regular care and oiling, a blade may develop rust. If rusting occurs, it's best to have the blade attended to by a Saya specialist or a polishing specialist.
4.2 Storage Conditions:
A blade should always be stored in dry conditions. However, bear in mind that the wooden containers or mountings require due moisture. The best compromise between these two needs should be sought to ensure optimal preservation conditions.
4.3 Regular Maintenance:
Cleaning and oiling should be done preferably every ten days for about six months after polishing, and then at least every six months. Swords should be kept in a horizontal position, not leaning, to avoid oil accumulation at the blade's point.
Video Guide to Sword Maintenance
Here is a complete guide on how to realize the maintenance of your sword by Mr. Paul Martin.