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waljamada

Advice - Making an Intro to Nihonto Beginner's Buying Guide Video

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Greetings all,

 

I'm currently making an "Intro to Nihonto and Beginner's Buying Guide" video.

 

This video will be a brief overview of nihonto terminology and aspects.  Basically what you are seeing in a blade, what to look for and everything I wish I knew right off the bat.

 

I'd like to ask the community for advice on what they think needs to be mentioned for those beginners looking to purchase their first  swords.  Anything you think is important to know at the start.

 

I currently have a completed script and am in the filming phase where I use an actual gimble and macro lenses unlike the little intro video I made just to post here.  

 

I will take then update my script to incorporate any advice received here. 

Thanks for any replies!

 

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This could be a very useful resource to newbies, Adam.  Is it really a buying guide or an intro to appraising?  You would want a section on how to tell a fake, one on flaws and fatal flaws, one on things that collectors consider important (originality, condition, reputation of the maker, period of swordmaking etc.).  Sections on markets (ebay, auctions, private sales, shows, NMB....) and valuations (this one would be tricky, but most newbies or heirs want to know what their sword is worth).  Your preview (love that big band music) implies the importance of reading the right books. I am glad that you are seeking help on this, as it is my impression that you have been working hard to learn about nihonto but haven't been at it for decades.  Sometimes writing something like this is the best way to learn the subject.  You know the old adage, "see one, do one, teach one".  Good luck!  Cheers, Bob

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Surfson, thank you for that.  Before reading your response I typed this up:

 

Here is a brief summary written as I'm eating dinner:

 

Intro speech about Nihonto as a history, an art, a hobby and a market.  Advice on how to approach it as a beginner to frame what Im about to go through.

 

sword features: hada, hamon, kissaki, nakago, mei, mune, sori, nagasa, bohi, bonji, horimono etc...will demonstrate examples of each on real swords as I explain them. Condition issues: fatal and non fatal flaws, polish state (and expense of polish). Tired and healthy blades and the indentifying features.

 

categories of blades: Katana, tachi, wakizashi, tanto. (Keeping it simple)

Some examples of nakago patina from Koto, muromachi, Kanbun Shinto and ww2 era (what I have).  Why patina is important (never clean a nakago etc..)  Mention size/shape differences.

 

Mei: Will mostly leave it at their existence and for any specifics point to references.  Will mention how old Tachi mei's were on opposite side, mumei and gimei.  Will show the meis on all signed blades I have.  This is where I will mention the NBTHK and NTHK.

 

History: age ranges of eras (mostly sticking to Jokoto, koto, shinto, shinshinto, gendaito but will say there are deeper classifications) ubu blades vs shortened and how to tell. Showato type blades.  Brief intro to some schools and features (signature hamons/yasurimei etc..) then point to references for more info.

 

Koshirae section- show examples of all the pieces (tsuba, Tsuka, ito, kashira/fuchi-kashira, mekugi, menuki, saya, habaki, seppa etc..) mention which pieces historically may be signed, go over materials used etc...(all brief overviews)

 

This is where I will mention useful references.  Books, websites, forums etc...

 

Methods of purchasing a blade and advice:  This is where I point out some markets and methods and a bit of a FAQ for new buyers.  What to ask, warning signs etc..

 

Finish it with an impassioned speech about how cool this is, how its a winding path fueled by passionate people with friendly strangers you will meet to help guide the way.  It is a deep well but one full of history and splendor in these beautiful objects.  *This will be my braveheart moment yet not nearly as epic*

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Hi Adam 

When I looked at your list of talking points I  thought that it would take hours and hours. 

When I  looked at the video, the first thing that struck me was that the blades are not in the rack correctly. In peaceful situations the tsuka is on the left. That makes it more difficult to draw the blade. 

When evaluating a sword the first thing to look at is the shape. Shape is not on your list. I wish you the best with this project. You might keep koshirae for a later part. 

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Best of luck with this Adam,

One thing I would add is to emphasize the fact that it isn't possible to learn what you need to know in order to sensibly collect Nihonto just by watching a video.  Reading, asking questions, and foremost, in hand study of quality pieces, all over the course of years are necessary.

Grey

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Barry,

 

It would take hours and hours to really dive into all this stuff.  A lot of help when I was just starting would have been someone laying out the generals simply and alone.  The in depth study Grey mentions when he says it takes study over the course of years to really understand is what comes next.  I just want to show the entryway.

 

I was actually hesitant to do shape beyond briefly showing a bit while going over the era portion because it gets quickly into that "would take hours and hours" category.  Some shape stuff also applies while going over sori etc.. 

 

If I found something that showed the broad concepts quickly and names for things in a visual way I could go from there to figure out the specific access points to the further studies quicker.  Plus be better able to identify true nihonto off the bat.  All this info exists but its scattered.  Plus for all I know no one will even watch it, but ill do my best.

 

So my goal is just to basically state the doors and the basic terms while using them with video examples.   Ill also try and make it a bit "hip" rather than just classic presentation. 

 

Also ill flip the swords to tsuka on the left.  This is a peaceful situation.  Thanks you for pointing that out, I wasn't aware of that.

 

Grey,

I'll make sure to stress the point that the Nihonto path is long, complicated yet rewarding.

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Hello Adam!

You might consider addressing the various points of entry into this field—you’ve got militaria enthusiasts whose natural interest in gunto seduced them into nihonto proper.  Then there are the martial artists, who may have been swinging iaito before they ever heard of hada, but have gone on to pursue the roots of their art in nihonto.  There are the artistic connoisseurs, who bring a strong aesthetic perspective that really gets at the heart of nihonto.  
These categories will overlap of course, but by presenting and discussing them, a prospective buyer can do some necessary introspection and really start to drill down on WHY they are considering buying a nihonto.  (For example, someone whose interest in gunto is limited to its connection with WWII may be perfectly happy with a non-traditionally made blade, if that blade comes with wartime provenance.) 
Each category will also present different issues regarding our obligations to be good stewards for these objects.  Does the buyer insist on accompanying koshirae?  Why?  That’s a major fork in the road right there.  If buyer wants koshirae so that the nihonto can be used for martial arts practice, does buyer understand the potential for damaging the nihonto in the process?  Does buyer realize that the cost of having modern koshirae made is not going to be recouped if the buyer ever wants to re-sell, and nihonto with matching, historic koshirae is both big bucks and now a big obligation to care for saya lacquerware?  If for the above reasons the buyer sours on the notion of koshirae, does the new notion of nihonto in shirasaya hold as much appeal as the old image of the samurai sword?  If not, maybe time to rethink things...

 

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Perhaps multiple shorter videos instead of one long one? I know Youtube field has been throughly studied and there are probably hints for optimal video duration etc. I feel people of modern age tend to have such a short attention span I am not sure how many will watch long videos.

 

 

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Hi Adam,

I second Jussi's recommendation. A focused, shorter video allowing for some feedback from viewers might be a way to go. Any way you decide, though, sound like a fun and learning experience many can enjoy. Good luck with your project.

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Richard,

 

I started as a gunto guy so I will for sure touch on it as well as showato/non traditional steels.  Have a mantetsu and one showato to use for this.  Will make sure to touch on the different collector type entries you mentioned at different points.

 

In terms of koshirae I will mention the markets as I go over the pieces.  "There are tsuba collectors, fuchi, menuki...etc...and prices can be very costly especially for pieces of outstanding quality, historical note and famous makers..exactly like fine art markets of which these are also part.".

 

I have one papered sword in shirasaya I will show/use that also has a full tachi koshirae.  Then a papered sword only in full koshirae. 

 

Only things I don't actually have for the basic examples are a tanto and a fake Japanese sword for comparison.  

 

Jessi, Mark,

 

I will give the multiple shorter video idea some thought.  I will see how things go once I get all the footage and see the "flow" of the video.  Its going to take me a bit because I'm shooting footage of swords (which will stergiently fight anyone trying to do it well), me handling swords/koshirae to point out parts/features, will probably have to photoshop some graphics, cite any graphics/photos/video I use by others (if I use any at all) and some footage of a "walk and talk" that ill film for the longer talking segments to make it more interesting.  Edit it (this is where my something attuned to perfectionism can hurt me) and of course work my job, and love my fiancee, three dogs and a cat.  Also hopefully this snowing finally calms down because I also shovel my rental properties.   

 

My goal is to keep it under 20 minutes and change things up enough to keep attention.  Also aim to have it finished anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks from today.  Maybe less if life, work and filming/equipment is kind to me

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