KOKAN NAGAYAMA is one of the great contemporary sword polishers. He has been designated a mukansa ("without supervision") polisher, a level above the regular sword-polisher ranking system. He is a judge of both the sword polishing and swordsmithing competitions of the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai or NBTHK (Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords), for which organization he serves as an instructor of sword polishing. In 1967 in Kanagawa Prefecture he founded the Nagayama Kenshujo (Nagayama Japanese Sword-polishing Institute), where he taught the art of polishing to both polishers and smiths for twenty years. He has organized several token-kai (sword study groups) and instructed hundreds of sword enthusiasts.KENJI MISHINA, the translator, is a sword polisher who served as chief instructor at the Nagayama Kenshujo for seven years beginning in 1979. He has been authorized by the Japanese government to restore swords designated as kokuho (national treasures) and juyo bunkazai (important cultural assets). He has been awarded numerous prizes in the sword polishing competitions of the NBTHK. He lived in England for six years beginning in 1986, where he worked for the British Museum, lectured at the monthly meetings of the Token Society of Great Britain, and received a request from the British royal family to polish its sword collection. He is currently writing a series of articles on the Japanese sword for this site. He is the translator of The New Generation of Japanese Swordsmiths.