For concrete prices, please scroll down.

Before you contact me, please take a minute and check out here what I do and what I don’t do. Thank you!

What I do

1. Reading signatures for no fee (unless it is exceptionally long/complex)
2. Translation of all kinds of certificates or inscriptions, e.g. hakogaki and sayagaki. For detailed prices see below.
3. Translation of contemporary Japanese texts, articles, or entire books (for private use) on the subject of swords, sword fittings, armor, and Japanese art in general.
4. Period texts, e.g. calligraphies, poems, publications (extra but negotiable fees apply for semi-cursive and cursive texts).
5. So to speak “pre-shinsa” assessment of the possible authenticity/non-authenticity of sword and sword fittings signatures. For more details see here.
6. Reseach/further information on all above points/items (fee not included in the initial translation fee stated below).
7. Reseach and wrtite-ups on concrete objects/makers/schools (extent and fee negotiable).
8. Lectures on the topic of Japanese swords, sword fittings, and armor and specific points/historic considerations on these items.
9. Open for any projects that do not come under the points, or contain any of the points stated below.

What I don’t do

1. I neither give monetary evaluations of swords/fittings nor an advice on purchases/deals/trade-ins. Not because I am incapable of doing that but because I am a translator, writer, and researcher. A professional dealer is much better suited for these kind of things because he is literally dealing with these issues on a daily basis and because he has thus a way better grasp of current market prices than I ever will. I know, you want neutral objective tips from someone who is not a dealer but I honestly think I am not a good choice for that because although I do keep an eye on the market and maintain an archive for personal use, I hardly ever look at the price tag. In other words, I only check dealer sites as a reference, not because I want to buy or because I am looking for deals. Also, I am not a collector and have never been. Well, I have bought a few blades and fittings back in the days but there was no plan whatsoever, and these purchases never really turned into a collecting momentum (didn’t get the bug or tasted blood or whatever you want to call it). What plays into that: I am a minimalistic guy, almost autistic in this sense, and it makes me literally uncomfortable to own too many things, let alone valuable antiques that need special care and attention. I am pretty much going with the old Native American saying that everything a man has to own must fit on a horse, and I think I’m pretty darn close, i.e. all material goods I own fit into two big suitcases, but I digress…
2. I am not doing over-the-internet appraisals/attributions of swords or fittings. You may hire me for assessing items or an entire collection on the spot but attempting to appraise/attribute swords or fittings (in particular swords) on the basis of pictures only is not only very difficult but a potential minefield of making errors and giving faulty, or at least sub-optimal advice. I understand, sometimes all you want is a basic comment and a personal opinion and not a “full” appraisal/attribution but that doesn’t change a thing because I can not in all conscience give you a faulty or sub-optimal advice over the net.
3. I am neither recommending any craftsman in the field (not because I don’t know any, many of them are friends) nor am I able to handle the forwarding of to be restored or to be papered items to Japan or to any other place. Reason for that is number one that I am staying neutral in terms of recommendations of business and number two, ant that goes with point 1 above, I am not a collector and therefore I have limited personal experience with the process. In other words, there are specialists and dealers doing exactly that for a living and I am just lacking the entire well attuned infrastructure that it takes for such a venture.


I offer a professional translation of all common (and uncommon) appraisals/papers/certificates.

NBTHK hozon, tokubetsu-hozon, kichō, tokubetsu-kichō … $15
Tōensha/Murakami … $15
NTHK … $30
Jūhō Tōken Kenkyu Kai … $30
Bijutsu Tōken Kantei Club … $30
Nihon Tōsōgu Kenkyū Kai … $30
Shibata … $30
Fujishiro … $30
NBTHK Jūyō/Tokubetsu-Jūyō … $40 (includes certificate and Zufu entry)
Sayagaki/hakogaki … $30 (higher fees apply for an exceptionally long sayagaki/hakogaki)

If you don’t find your paper on the list above, please contact me via “”.

Also offered are translations of all Japanese texts on arms and armor in the broadest sense. The costs for an A4/Letter page with a 11 point font size is 50 USD (or 25 USD for half an A4/Letter page accordingly). The costs for texts with considerable parts in Classical Japanese (bungo) or Classical Chinese (kanbun) are higher but will be a matter for negotiation.

Translations of entire books, exhibition catalogues and the like are also a matter for negotiation and are dependent on the workload and complexity.

Please note that in all cases the copyright of the original text is valid. A translation for an individual for private use must not be distributed, leased or otherwise sold.

Special offer for (antique) dealers or auction houses: Drawing up of professional descriptions of pieces and/or biographies of artists, or apart from that, research and collecting information on certain pieces or artists to be used by the customer. The prices vary according to the desired extent of the description and the expenditure of time for the research.

Signature authentications please see here or here.



  1. Dear Sir, I have a Katana with NTHK papers, but I don’t understand the meaning of the paper. I would like to know if you can translate the paper for me so that I may understand my sword better and carry out further research. I am a complete beginner to the world of collecting and am finding it very difficult indeed to find anyone who can help me get started. Can you help by translating and explaining the NTHK paperwork which I can email to you? I understand that, of course, a fee is payable.
    With kindest regards. David Sewell.

    • Dear David, please send me a picture of your paper and I´d be glad to translate and explain it for you. We can talk about further details via mail. Best regards, Markus Sesko.

      • Dear Markus,
        That is very kind of you and thank-you for coming back to me so quickly. I will scan the paper and send it to you today. I’ve been finding it very difficult as a beginner, to get into this very confusing hobby! Thanks again and best wishes, David.

      • Hi David,

        Unfortunately I did not receive your pictures. Can you please try either “” or “”. Sorry for the inconvenence!

  2. Markus, I have purchased a sword with a NTHK Token. I know generally what it says but would like to have a line by line translation. I will soon have a NBTHK token to do the same. Please tell me how to proceed with engaging you to do this and by the way your prices seem too cheap. Donald Sayers

  3. Hallo herr sesko

    Ich habe eine frage zu ihren buechern
    Ist geplant des buch Tameshigiri auch in deutsch aufzulegen

    Danke fuer info

    • Hi. Bezahlung kann über PayPal oder Überweisung auf mein deutsches Konto erfolgen (oder mit Kreditkarte via dem “donate button” auf dieser Webseite). Details können wir gerne via “markus.sesko@gmail” besprechen.

  4. Dear Markus,
    First I like to thank you for a pleasent meeting with you in Hamburg allready some years back at the local N.B.T.H.K.
    meeting at the Museum fur Kunst und gewerbe.
    After acquiring the Lundgren tanto by Rai Kunimitsu (Solingen 2002) I have reflected upon Ogasawara-Senseis comment on it, in his dialoque in the book about the coll. where he suggests, it would be possible to trace it back to its possible japanese provenance.
    Do you think you could look into this matter for me?
    Yours sinc.
    Esben Juhl

    • Dear Esben,
      I vividly remember that meeting and congratulations on acquiring that Rai Kunimitsu tanto. Please get in touch with me via “” and we can discuss further via email over there.
      Best regards and greetings from, now, NYC,

  5. Dear Markus Sesko

    I have a Tachi with Sayagaki written by Mr Tanobe I would like it to be translating please

    Best Regards

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