Welcome to Katchushi, the Samurai armour, sword and Japanese fine art restoration and conservation website. In these pages you will find pictures and details of my work as a fully qualified and professional conservator/ restorer relating to Yoroi 甲冑 (armour), Kodogu 小道具 (Japanese sword fittings), Urushi Nuri 漆塗 (lacquerwork) and Japanese Fine Art 美術.
My name is Robert Soanes and I have studied under one of the finest master armourers (Katchushi or Yoroishi 甲冑士) in Japan, Mr Nishioka Fumio and his wife Mrs Nishioka Chizuru, an expert in the field of ‘Kumihimo’ or hand woven silk braids and traditional dyeing techniques using plant and vegetable dyes. Through their wealth of experience and their kindness, I have learnt invaluable knowledge and skills which one can only obtain from serious study with masters of their crafts. Presently, I live and work in the south of England.
My professional qualifications include a Post-Graduate Diploma (Distinction) in the Conservation/ Restoration of Fine Metalwork from the internationally renowned West Dean College in England. So you can be guaranteed of the finest work outside of Japan. Cleaning and conservation of objects to museum standard is also undertaken with written condition reports available.
In addition, I have been most fortunate in having been encouraged and helped by some of the most influential figures in the world of Japanese arms and armour. Most notable is Mr Ian Bottomley, formally of the Royal Armouries Museum, without whose help and encouragement I would never have obtained what I thought was impossible for a "Gaijin". Also at the Royal Armouries I have been involved in some memorable work including being filmed sword making for the Yorkshire television series ‘Decisive Weapons’ and assisting Mr Bottomley (behind the scenes) with the Shinto priests from the famous Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, Japan with their fantastic ‘Yabusame’ (Mounted archery) display held at the ‘Tiltyard’ at the Royal Armouries in 2001.
I have made and restored many pieces for some of the most respected private collectors both in England, France, America, Canada, South Africa, Hong Kong and Japan. In addition, I am also a conservator/ restorer for the largest international auction house in the world. I am also a member of theTokyo branch of the Nihon Katchû Bugu Kenkyû Hozon Kai (NKBKHK), the society for the study and preservation of Japanese arms and armour in Japan.
All my work is entirely traditional, hand crafted and of the highest quality (absolutely no mass produced fittings or castings). I use only the finest quality raw materials, obtained directly from specialist sources in Japan so you can be sure of accurate attention to detail fit for the purpose of using on historic Japanese armour, swords and related accoutrements.
The best restoration and conservation, as will be shown in these pages, will enhance the value of an item as well as preserving its historical legacy for future generations of collectors as well as prolonging the life of the work. Bad restoration by unqualified "restorers" will destroy value and alter significantly the historic work of past generations of master crafstmen and women that made many of these fine pieces.
A recent feature in the 2016 book "Sengokubushu Kawarikabuto Daizenshu".
Please click book cover for translation.