I suppose this is aimed at Iai practitioners, but happy to hear opinions from those with knowledge of the Katana with regards to production and history too.... I am looking to purchase my first Shinken sometime in the next 12 months or so (I use an iaito just now for iai). Some of the little things I've come across in my reading etc and needed a decision made on them are as follows. 1. The placement of the mekugi. I have found that most forges seem to put them the opposite side of the tsuka from the hand. I believe that they were originally supposed to be under the palms to aid grip though I may be wrong? With this in mind I think I may ask for them to be placed under the palms rather than opposite them (is this gyaku mekugi?). Does anybody have any thoughts or information on this they would share with me? 2. Spring steel seems on the face of it to be a good choice of steel because of its inherent strength, and ability to perhaps shrug off the ineptitude of the beginner during tameshigiri. Though during a chat with a forge via email, it seems that the creation of a natural hamon via clay quenching (apologies if that terminology isn't correct) doesn't happen, and so acid etching is done which I do not want. Again any input gratefully recieved!! 3. Lastly though I am being offered differing advice/opinions on the including of Hi to the blade during production. My Sensei believes it is a very useful tool with regards to Iai. However with this being a Shinken I will not use it as such for a long time. The forge I spoke to said that it is purely a matter of personal choice. I think that I prefer the look of a blade with a Hi, but I have never even held (let alone used) one without. I would just like to hear people's thoughts on the matter, and whether or not it has been a decision anybody else has ever had to put thought into? Thanks for any response!!!