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Is There Any Way To Learn About Nihonto Without Having To Pay A Fortune For Books?

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I am new to everything. My knowledge is very basic. I am here for information. (I do not wish being called poor, an idiot, a noob or anything alike or told to find another interest.)

I've searched the web for ebooks in this topic and the prices were mindblowing. I understand that collecting nihonto isn't poor men's hobby but I can't afford such expensive books... I want to learn. What should I do? I need your help and advice.

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Dear Andras,

 

If at all possible find a group near you and join.  You will get a chance to share knowledge and to ask questions as well as to see swords and fittings.  The other tip is to go to auctions if possible, a good auction will allow you hands on viewing of some great items and you can take your time.

 

Another tip would be to keep an eye on sites such as Aoi Art.  Read what the description says and then study the images until you can see what is being described.

 

Be encouraged, when I started collecting there was only really one book in my language and no internet, I spent a long time with my nose pressed against the glass of the showcases in the V and A museum in London, (the marks are still there.)

 

Enjoy!

 

All the best.

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Markus Sesko frequently discounts his ebooks and his books are not only in English but are normally much more affordable than the usual reference texts (Fujishiro, Hawley etc). John Yumoto’s classic is affordable and what many of us started with too.

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Guest Rayhan

Dear Andras

 

have no fear you can download this book which is no longer in print but an excellent reference. go to the

link

 

 https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Art_of_the_Samurai_Japanese_Arms_and_Armor_1156_1868#

 

click on the download pdf (green button) and wait for the book to load, you should save a copy as it is free and a great foundation for a beginner. Please read it in its entirety and you will have a fantastic point of call for observing the development of swords from Koto to modern sword development up until the beginning of the Meiji restoration. 

 

There are other ways such as reading every single posting on www.aoijapan.net as well as the blog and postings on Nihonto.com and Nihonto.ca

 

You can also watch Youtube videos which are a good starting point. 

 

Paul Martin also has reasonably priced material with detailed learning points.

 

Markus Sesko has a great online site with more advanced material

 

Enjoy the ride!

 

Rayhan

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See that little button above right of the forum.....research?
In that menu is Nihonto Compendium. Download it.
Then check this thread, and ask Markus if maybe he can extend the sale a little..and check out the encyclopedia there: https://markussesko.com/2017/11/10/ebook-super-sale-2017/and maybe a few others.
Then spend some time reading the FAQ above right...which has a ton of info. And read the forum often. You'll be well on your way.
We welcome "newbies" here. Most of us are newbies...some more advanced, but we are all still learning.

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Hello Andras:

 Lots of good advice in the foregoing posts. Books can be expensive, for the more important references at least a $1,000 a running foot, however reading the suggestions provided without the lingua franca common to the Japanese sword, namely the Japanese terms used in describing and discussing them, will leave you more or less lost. John Yumoto's book as mentioned would meet that need, however it is rather dated. I would suggest you pay what is necessary to get a copy of Nobuo Nakahara. Facts and Fundamentals of Japanese Swords: A Collector's Guide. (Kodansha International, 2010), as it has the vocabulary and deals with many pitfalls you will want to avoid.

 Arnold F.

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You can buy Nakayama Kokan « The connoisseur book of Japanese swords »it will bring you 70 to 80% of all is to know about the Japanese swords and for 56€ on Amazon... :)

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While all the above resources are excellent, don't forget to look at the top of the board banner for links and check out the informational links - lots of good material there also.

 

Rich

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Everything above is great advice, and I strongly suggest just getting lost in the Nihonto Message Board search function. I learn things every day using it. It's like a rabbit hole.......

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You inquire about swords in the 10k range in another topic and which one to buy ...  then you continue to state in this topic that you are either unable or unwilling to spend a fraction of that amount on ebooks complaining they are too expensive.

 

I do not get this so I will pick up on your starting post and call myself a poor idiot for completely missing your point / not understaning you.

 

From my poor idiots point of view what you call expensive is dirt cheap. You can buy most excellent eBooks these days at close to nothing. Books of this quality had not been availableonly  some years ago not to speak in this price range. By buying these books you can and should save yourself from buying a junk sword. People will spend several hundred dollars on a junk sword as they think it is cheap - yes, because it is junk. On the other hand a 30 bucks book may help avoid this and save you hundred or rather thousands of dollars.

 

I am however with you on Markus Seskos eBooks. The prices are indeed mindblowing! What Markus makes available at bargain price is just amazing! It does NOT get any cheaper than this. Or go to Grey Dorfsins site etc. Also great deals there BUT when I say a 200 USD book over there may get you sweating. What does 200 USD buy you in the world of Nihonto? A starter Tsuba, That's it. End of the story. Or spend 100 bucks on a Compton catalogue and you can enjoy looking at master pieces for years to come.

 

Of course you can save on that money but then it is like with what Henry Ford said: If you want to save on advrtising you could also try stopping the clock from ticking in order to save on time ... and it is the same with buying books - in ANY hobby.

 

I do not appreciate the attitude of people who think everything is free on the internet and that wisdom is not worth a dime nor the paper it is printed on. People writing Nihonto books spend tremendous time and lots of passion at what they are doing and bring in years of expiriende. The book then gets printed in small numbers and thus simply has a higher price tag than your daily newspapers. Those people are real enthusiasts and do not make a fortune on this kind of work BUT offer a treasure of knowledge to anybody who is willing to pay a reasonable price.

 

USD 1000.00 will not get anybody a great sword in most occasions but a quite decent library. Books are your daily tools ... you can buy cheap tools or believe in having a swiss army knife is all you need but then you are simply wrong.

 

I read in a post from Jussi that he has spent most of his funds on books in order to buy a good sword when the time is right. That is smart. Buying junk swords and then books to finally discover you wasted your money is a smart move.

 

The best piece of advice is quite simple and servers his great logic: Darcy Brockabank once told me to not buy none great swords but rather spend my time on a plane ticket and go to look at great swords. That's also what he did. Or could join a club or attend a show ... but if a eBook price tag allready drives you away, a flight to Japan or show admission will for sure.

 

So if I were you I would consider getting into something that is more affordable to you like collecting stickers or old newspapers. Doest this sound grumpy or harsh? Maybe it does but it is my honest oppinion and advice, if you wanto to get into muscles cars but looking at the price for a gallonof fiesl  does make you sweat allready and breaks your bank account then that is simply not your cup of tea. Nihonto is a costy hobby depending on your approach but again if an eBooks makes you stumble you won't enjoy the way at all ...

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Dear Luis.

 

 

 

So if I were you I would consider getting into something that is more affordable to you like collecting stickers or old newspapers. Doest this sound grumpy or harsh?

 

I have to say that your comment does indeed sound grumpy and harsh.  Part of our aim as a community surely is to encourage those who are starting to express an interest in the subject we all love.  Andras asked a question in another thread and you have no way of knowing what his intentions were, perhaps he was seeking to understand the differences between the two swords.  

 

Almost every thread advising beginners starts with the mantra, "Buy books", and it's a good one which we say because many of us did not and regret it.  Most responses to Andras have been helpful in directing him to books that are accessible and affordable, I'm sure he will follow up on those.  The fact that you get impatient with those who want to use the internet as a learning tool is your problem, not his.  

 

I have to say that if I were in Andras' shoes and had asked a question with the specific plea that I was just getting started and that I didn't want to be called an idiot or to get out of the hobby because I couldn't afford it then your post we make me want to have nothing more to do with NMB.  Telling someone that they are getting this so wrong that they might as well go and collect stickers is hard to see as anything other than offensive.  I am sure that was not your intention but I at least would read it that way.

 

None of the points you make about books are anything other than correct but by and large people develop an interest in the object and then find the need to study it via the written word.  By the sound of it Andras is just starting out and could do with some advice.

 

All the best.

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The NMB does a pretty good "Good cop, bad cop"
:laughing:
I guess we need the grumpy people as a counterpoint to the really helpful guys. Trust András will take the advice from where it is intended....firm but trying to help.

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Being the "Master of Grump" ive stayed mum, Gma always said if you cant say anything good say nothing at all. 

Im with Luis, web sites, NMB, and the best start for newbies http://www.japaneseswordindex.com/nihonto.htmwhich was already given

all free and more info than you'll absorb because your mind is self absorbed. Grow up get over being a newbie, everyone was one from the start.

 

Good luck on your adventure. 

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Dear Luis.

 

 

I have to say that your comment does indeed sound grumpy and harsh.  Part of our aim as a community surely is to encourage those who are starting to express an interest in the subject we all love.  Andras asked a question in another thread and you have no way of knowing what his intentions were, perhaps he was seeking to understand the differences between the two swords.  

 

Almost every thread advising beginners starts with the mantra, "Buy books", and it's a good one which we say because many of us did not and regret it.  Most responses to Andras have been helpful in directing him to books that are accessible and affordable, I'm sure he will follow up on those.  The fact that you get impatient with those who want to use the internet as a learning tool is your problem, not his.  

 

I have to say that if I were in Andras' shoes and had asked a question with the specific plea that I was just getting started and that I didn't want to be called an idiot or to get out of the hobby because I couldn't afford it then your post we make me want to have nothing more to do with NMB.  Telling someone that they are getting this so wrong that they might as well go and collect stickers is hard to see as anything other than offensive.  I am sure that was not your intention but I at least would read it that way.

 

None of the points you make about books are anything other than correct but by and large people develop an interest in the object and then find the need to study it via the written word.  By the sound of it Andras is just starting out and could do with some advice.

 

All the best.

 

Dear Geraint,

 

yes my comment WAS grummpy no question about that. I can also tell you why: I am both an adminsitrator or a large metal detecting community and a father who has little spare time. In  case of the topic starter I took the liberty to send him a lengthy personal message a while ago. It was not grumpy but friendly with an helpfull educational approach. Result: Nada. No reply at all. I do not have a problem with people who want to use the internet as a learning approach. if I had I would neither care to try to help people both by writing to seem and offering a special interest community myself. I have a problem with people who do not have the manner to follow up and that makes me grummpy.

 

Being a poor idiot I was lucky that all those people who were neither idiots nor poor gave me great advice on my most stupid questions. The only thing I had to offer in exchange was a lame thank you. But still I traded it eagerly for more and it infact "bought" me more free advice great advice.

 

You say that almost every thread advising beginners here starts with buying books ... so if the topic starter uses the web to learn about Nihonto he will read that advice often. Obviously he has done so but made the wrong conclusion: People advice me to buy books but hey I do not want that or I can not afford ... I want the advice for free instead. I wish him good luck with that approach but I guess it does not work out. You can not have the cake without eating it.

 

If you are not willing to invest into a hobby then you have to find a hobby that does not require any investments. Nihonto is probably not your best bet then.

 

You have to plant a seed to harvest something and seeds also need to be bought. You can not bake an apple pie without having bought apples first. if you try to play smart and avoid spending your money on the apples yu will get a pretty lame apple pie afterwards.

 

Please don't get me wrong, I would love to see more people entering the world of Nihonto collecting. Infact I believe that is what Nihonto needs the most. Sowrds and people have one thing in common: they are gettimng older all the time. People unlike swords to not necessarily have the benefit of getting any better as time passes. Look at any of the sword community gatherinsg and you will mainly see a bunch of white haired old farts .. unlike me ... I would be the one who even no longer has the privellige of hairs.

 

So yes bring on the young / new collectors who are eager to learn and willing to learn which will just imply having to spend a couple of bucks on some books at times.

 

My advice for the topic starter: Visit Darcys web blog at nihonto.ca ... it is a great read and most educational not only in regards of Nihonto but in all aspects of life.

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PPS: One has to take this dilema further:

 

The more you learn on Nihonto, the more advanced you will become and thus probably grow a more advanced = expensive taste in swords.

 

If I give an iron Tsunagi (= junk sword) to my daughter she will consider it cool ... once she has went through some learning she would hit me on the head with it for giving here the same thing. So the more you learn the more you will face the dilema in wanting deeper pockets to spend on more qualiyt stuff.

 

The more uneducated you are the more joy you will get out of a junk sword. The more educated you are the less it will please you.

 

It works the same way round:

 

The less educated you are, the less joy you will get from a top class piece of art. The more educated you are, the more enjyoment yu will get from a top class art sword.

 

Which again just boils down to the deep pocket needed problem with any sort of collecting / hobby.

 

That is why you see old men driving in new sportscars :laughing:

 

I am just lucky for being a poor idiot as it allows me to enjoy my poor swords :) So nothing about taht and I enjoy being called it for its benefits ;)

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If I give an iron Tsunagi (= junk sword) to my daughter she will consider it cool ... 

 

I tried this with my Son, thinking he would think its cool, then he told me it was junk :laughing: 

 

Some great advice above, enjoy the hobby and take your time learning, learn as you go along (before you buy), rinse wash repeat

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I tried this with my Son, thinking he would think its cool, then he told me it was junk :laughing:

 

Some great advice above, enjoy the hobby and take your time learning, learn as you go along (before you buy), rinse wash repeat

 

This made my day :laughing:

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Luis from my personal point of view i must say the more i learn the more i enjoy the junk. Mostly we judge on cosmetic (as marius say) and dont value the work.

It is on the collector to find out what he like and not what others say he must like.

If there is only value in art swords i more like to collect the true warrior junk

????

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Hello Christoph,

 

now I have to admit that the word junk is a very wide one. What is junk? One mans junk another mans treasure you can say. Junk is something with a major problem. This can be an obvious flaw or are morder harde to discover one. Or we can have blade that has no flaws but simply the workmanship is not good ... or in the opposite: What has good work likely is NO juink. No matter on maker, periode, type. By saying junkI am implying things that you would't want to buy.

 

In the end I would encourage anybody to buy

 

1. in the foremost what they like

 

2. in the 2nd place what is priced reasonable

 

I like Pizza Magritha ... but I do not like it at 10 bucks ...

 

Making a decission on pricing is difficult ansd requires both wissdom and expirience.

 

So especially with cheap swords in terms of unrestored one has to make a wise decision on wheter it is worth the cost of restoration.

 

Again I must take any punch from my wife for spending too much money on junk - she considers swords to be rather useless ... Nihonto IS and expensive passion. No doubt about that. It is both art and time consuming craftmanship. Hence if you can't take the punch you better get out of the ring.

 

It is like when having a consultation where someone wants to start a business but is either unable or unwilling to spend the necessary investment then the frank and honest advice for him is to let it go and save his efforts as it will be a dead end road straight from the start.

 

My first sword back in 1998 when I was still a student was a really messed up, sandpapered Wakizashi whoch I had bought at 350.00 USD on eBay. The next attemp was much better and a solid signed Ubu Koto Katana which my highly decorated martial arts teacher told me was a fake so I returned it. Had I done more studying in the 1st place and not listend to his BS I would have avoided another bad decission. I had spent 1000 bucks at this time while a good book would have been 5% of that.

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Here are few maybe bit controversial thoughts...

 

Collecting Japanese swords is not a hobby for everyone. For example, I don't think collecting nihontō is a right hobby for me. :o So instead I will just focus on study & appreciation. For collecting you need a lot of money, while study & appreciation is much more affordable and I enjoy latter more. I've come to realize that owning something is not as important for me than seeing something.

 

You will not learn everything just from the books. The reason for this is there is book knowledge and applied knowledge. My own is just mostly book knowledge as I have had just few opportunities to enjoy swords in real life. When you see swords and get explanation about them for example in sword study groups you will learn bit differently than from books as you have real live examples to study on. It is always amazing to hear more senior collectors opinions on things as you can learn a lot.

 

There is a limit what you will learn buying 1,2 or even 10 swords. Yes you can learn a lot of things from even a single sword but there is a limit to it. For example you cannot learn to identify features that are not on that particular sword by looking at it. You have 2 very different swords, great but there will still be limitations. That is why sword study meetings are amazing. You get to see various swords and can discuss them with other interested folks.

 

You've gotten great recommendations for books. My advice would be avoid buying too specialized books for a long time, you won't really need them. For example I got "Bungo Taikan" from Grey some time ago. I think I have only had one good use for it as a friends friend got a Bungo sword and he needed help for the signature. It is nice to have specialized books but even though you might have very large collection of books, I could throw in a bet that you mostly use the few good ones you've used for many years as first thing when looking stuff up.

 

As Luis mentioned earlier Darcys advice of buying a plane ticket, I can agree totally on that. Seeing great swords is very important for study & appreciation. And travelling is really really fun. You'll get multiple trips to Japan for a price of mediocre sword, I'd rather choose the trips. Also I do not know any Hungarian collectors or collections but geographically you are quite close to Germany & Italy which both have very strong nihontō scene. As I live here up north I do not know Central European transportations too well but you can probably catch trains or busses cheaper than flying as I see you live near Budapest.

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You've gotten great recommendations for books. My advice would be avoid buying too specialized books for a long time, you won't really need them. For example I got "Bungo Taikan" from Grey some time ago. I think I have only had one good use for it as a friends friend got a Bungo sword and he needed help for the signature. It is nice to have specialized books but even though you might have very large collection of books, I could throw in a bet that you mostly use the few good ones you've used for many years as first thing when looking stuff up.


 

 

Absolutely! Maybe 500 USD is all to spend for a couple of used books or as jean said only 10% of that for a copy of the Coneisseur book.

 

but geographically you are quite close to Germany & Italy which both have very strong nihontō scene

 

Again right. There are NBTHK branches and they even none members to attend their meetings. I can only speak for the German branch but they used to have really good swords there for studying when the former Michael Hagenbusch was the president. I suppose they still do these days as there are fantastic collections in Germany.

 

Howeber be warned! None member are asked to pay 10 Euros to attend the meeting from what I recall ... not to mention that the cost a NBTHK membership would possibly blow your mind away ;)

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First question we should have asked András beforehand is:

 

What is a fortune for you András? :)

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Dear Luis,
 
I'm ashamed for not responding to your message sooner.
Let me apologize for that and thank you for your help. I'm really grateful for it.
I get what you are telling me. I'll do my best to learn more and I will pay the price of information without complaining.

 

Best regards,
András

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Dear Jean,

 

When I searched the web for books about nihonto all of them were priced above 700€ which was really unusual to me.

Now that I know the reason of the prices and that there are other good books out there which are cheaper I regret postingthe question like this.

I could have put it without whining...

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Andras... yes there are earlier books on the topic that are quite expensive as they are out of print and/or were written by famous collectors long since gone. It was only just 7-ish years ago that these were the only books available in their respective areas of this hobby. They carry their own value as a collectable because of this. Nowadays many new books in English have been published (mostly by Markus... -thank you over and over again, Markus!) If you were to purchase all of the books by Markus sesko, and the few must haves outside of his series, you would be pretty much set. Would cost around $1000-1200. Lulu.com has coupons regularly that can save you a lot of that figure as well.. last one was 40% off! Most of the "expensive" books are in Japanese anyways and probably won't be much use to you (unless you can read Japanese).

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Collecting nihonto books is very enjoyable. Everyday are some offers on different sources in the net. You must search for them. I found some too an flea markets for a very low price. Budapest was a very rich city. I would bet you found some very old books on the markets there.

Collecting nihonto is like hunting.

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Collecting nihonto is like hunting. 

 

 

And the best part is when you find something that is like a treasure to you. 
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