How to clean a Katana?

How to clean a Katana?

Every sharp instrument requires special care to maintain its sharpness and aesthetics. The famed samurai katana goes well beyond simple maintenance routines of conventional knives. Preserving its shine, sharpness, finesse, and splendor requires meticulous attention, rigorous maintenance, and specific tools.

In this contribution, we will guide you on how to take care of a katana and share some tips for maintaining this precious Asian treasure.

The Katana Maintenance Tool Set

The first step in pampering a katana is having the right equipment. Using the wrong tools can irreparably damage this historical sword. Here's what you'll need:

  • Choji oil
  • This substance keeps the katana blade safe from oxidation and degradation. Choji oil is a blend of mineral oil and clove essence, giving it its distinct smell. Most katana owners opt for a 1:100 Choji mix, with 99% mineral oil and 1% clove essence. If you prefer a stronger scent, you can go for a 1:10 mix. In the absence of Choji oil, pure mineral oil is a viable alternative.

    katana maintenance

    Choji oil used for katana maintenance. Photo credit: DepDep.

  • Uchiko
  • Resembling a giant powder puff, it consists of a sturdy handle topped with a silk head filled with ultra-fine stone powder. Its role is similar to a fine-grit sandpaper, ideal for smoothing small imperfections, polishing the blade, and removing oil residue.

    sabre maintenance

    Uchiko used for katana maintenance. Image provided by Budoya.

  • Nuguigami 
  • No maintenance kit would be complete without Nuguigami, a cloth specially designed for the katana. It is used to remove particles and oil accumulated on the blade. In the absence of Nuguigami, a soft, lint-free, unscented paper cloth will suffice.

    katana care

    Nuguigami for katana maintenance. Photo provided by Family School Partners.

  • Oil container and wiping cloth
  • You will need at least two soft cloths for your katana's maintenance. One for applying Choji oil and the other for removing excess oil. Don't forget to use a clean container for storing the oil.

    The Maintenance Procedure

    Cleaning a katana is a meticulous process. Here are the steps to follow:

    1. Use the Nuguigami or a soft cloth to remove oil and dirt.
    2. Gently tap the blade with the Uchiko, then wipe off the powder with the Nuguigami.
    3. Apply a thin line of Choji oil along the blade. Use a soft cloth to spread the oil evenly over the blade.

    Adopting a regular maintenance routine is essential to preserve the beauty and functionality of your katana. With these tips, your sword will remain shiny and sharp for many years to come.

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