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Shinken (真剣 ?), literally meaning "real sword" {or "True Sword"), is a Japanese term used to describe a Japanese sword that is sharp and used for real cutting or combat, as opposed to those that are blunted for other types of practice. Today, they are primarily used for high level iaido and/or tameshigiri (cutting) practice. Unlike an iaito or mogito (an unsharpened sword for iaido practice), a shinken has a sharpened edge. "Gendaito" are hand-made shinken by one of approximately 250 swordsmiths active in Japan at the moment, members of the Japanese Swordsmith Association. These swordsmiths are limited by Japanese law to producing no more than twenty-four swords a year each. This limit, along with highly specialized skills and the need for a great deal of manual labour, accounts for the high price that a Japanese-made shinken (Nihonto) can fetch - starting from about $6,000 (US) for the blade alone, and going many times higher for genuine antique (Mukansa or Ningen Kokuho are two famous types) blades.

There is also a large worldwide market for "shinken" made outside of Japan. Many collectors consider these to be somewhat worthless as collectibles (since they are not Nihonto), but some martial artists continue to purchase and use them, because of their considerably lower price, ease of acquisition, and also to spare their valuable Nihonto from what some view as abuse. The vast majority of these are made in China, but there are custom smiths all over the world manufacturing swords "in the Japanese style", some of which (a rare few) approach nihonto in quality.

"Shinken" is also used in modern Japanese language to mean "to do something seriously" or "real metal sword".

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