The correct conservation/ restoration of fine Japanese armour requires a multitude of skills that have to be mastered separately before they are all brought together to achieve work of the highest standard. These include the craft of the Kaji 鍛冶 (Blacksmith), the Shirogane-shi 白金師 (Silversmith) and the Urushi-be 漆部 (lacquerer) to name just a few. Of course in the past, the creation of armour was achieved by many different craftsmen and craftswomen, all of whom were masters and specialists in their particular fields.
Today, however the professional Japanese conservator/ restorer usually works alone and has to utilise these many skills in their work. In recent years, other "restorers" of Japanese armour have materialised with bogus claims and skills, offering the finest restoration outside of Japan. Restoration of lacquer and silk lacing etc, although time-consuming, is a relatively simple process, done correctly of course. If the self proclaimed "Katchushi" cannot himself make the soft metal edging that adorns various components of an armour (known as Fukurin) from one piece of metal (not soldered!) or cannot reproduce or repair fine engraved Shakudo fittings, or have sufficient skill to reproduce, say, a complete missing part of an armour using exactly the same materials and processes as the original, they should be approached with extreme caution. Even more so if they use modern mass produced reproduction metal armour fittings and components. The use of these will seriously de-value any suit of historic Japanese armour, especially one of rarity, and important provenance. If in doubt ask to see accreditation and a qualification to show that they have undergone sufficient study and training to an international recognised standard to show that they have the competance and the necessary knowledge to work on historic works of art. Ask to see detailed photographs of their work, not photos taken at a distance.
These formal conservation/ restoration qualifications were developed for a reason, so as to ensure a continuing high level of knowledge and skill to the fine art world, whether it be collectors or dealers, museums or private institutions, to preserve our cultural heritage whatever that culture may be.
My professional occupation encompasses all manner of Japanese armour, sword fitings and Japanese fine art conservation and restoration.. Some examples and details of which are given below.