( KIZU )

There are numerous types of flaws (kizu) which can be found in Japanese sword blades. All detract from the artistic beauty of the blade and many render the blade non-functional and/or valueless. With the exception of broken or cracked kissaki (points), the following types of kizu can be found anywhere on the sword blade. Non-fatal flaws can be corrected by an experienced polisher whereas fatal flaws cannot be corrected and render the blade completely non-functional and generally of little or no value. It should be noted that even fatal flaws may be acceptable in a really old blade (early Kamakura Period) and/or in blades by noted smiths. An experienced collector/student of Nihonto must decide what is acceptable for their collection. While a blade may be seriously flawed and have little monetary value, it may still be a useful study piece to aid in learning the characteristics of particular smiths or schools of swordsmiths.


Examples of Kizu

There are numerous other types of defects/flaws found in Japanese sword blades. Be certain to check CAREFULLY when examining a blade prior to purchase. Many flaws are quite subtle and can be very difficult to see (especially hagire - use a magnifying glass). Also be sure to sight down the back (mune) of the blade from the nakago (tang) to the kissaki (point) to determine if the blade is bent. Take your time when examining a blade as once the blade is purchased it is too late to complain about a newly found flaw.

Be sure to read Clive Sinclaire's article How to Recognize a Good Sword. He discusses some other points to consider in buying a Japanese sword.

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