St Nihonto Hira-Zukuri katana in shirasaya by Sheng
I ordered this sword from St-Nihonto’s ebay shop for $280 on Jan 22nd 2019, before the Chinese New Year and received it March 13th. It was originally in full mounts but because I am not too familiar with Sheng’s work and because I wasn’t sure about the quality of those mounts, I asked for it to be mounted in shirasaya instead. I also requested a copper habaki instead of brass. Because it’s in shirasaya, this will be a much shorter review than I usually do.
Heat treat: DH
OAL: 40 1/4″
Nagasa: 27 3/4″
Tsuka length: 10 3/4″
Nakago: 9 1/4″ from habaki
Sori: approx 5/8″
Hamon: choji with hitatsura
POB: 6 3/4″
Weight w/saya: 2.06 lbs
Weight w/out saya: 1.58 lbs
Weight with just blade: 1.39 lbs
The saya and tsuka are made of decent quality wood without any noticeable flaws and both feature buffalo horn around the openings. the fit of the saya was very tight upon arrival so I am letting it adjust to the climate here by leaving it slightly ajar. there is no saya rattle.
The habaki is made and fitted well with zero gaps(a must for me) but the finish looks like it was done with a dremel and diamond bit. this is easily remedied however with a little elbow grease and some abrasive paper.
The blade is super fast and light and nearly effortless to move. The hitatsura choji hamon is very attractive and although the polish and etching hide much of it, you can still see some really interesting activity if looking closely. There is a little bit of niku, mostly at the edge, which is good imo, so it won’t be so fragile. The polish is average for ebay katana, not great but not so bad you can’t see any details and I don’t believe it would cause issues with rusting. Not quite as good as Huawei’s polish lately, in my opinion but serviceable and satisfactory. I really can’t wait to mount this and then give it a swing!
The finishing of the nakago, ha and mune machi could also have been done a little better but I think it’s certainly good enough for the price point. This doesn’t really have a negative impact in any functional way but it’s nice when they’re done well and look clean.
Overall, this is a very wicked, fast and fun sword and because hira-zukuri isn’t a commonly found sugata among the Chinese made katana, I think it makes it even more special. I have specific plans for this cool kat and I can’t wait to get started on it.
Based on this example, I will definitely try to acquire another of Sheng’s swords in the future. I have yet to see first hand what his full mounts are like in person but when I do, I will be sure to let you know.
Thanks for reading :)