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Advice on some options please


FZ1
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I don't think there is really anything wrong to collect (apart from fakes ofc) depending on one's means and what makes people happy.

 

I think when many of us started collecting we wanted 'the full package' with koshirae. Then we start to appreciate the blade for itself and go in one direction or another (koto, a particular Shinto or shinshinto school etc.) It's all part of the journey. I think Jon hasn't made a bad start to this journey!

 

As for the argument that one should save for a better sword; I agree in principle but this commitment often comes when you have a direction of what you like and hence save for. Also, there's no limit to this argument, I.e two midrange shinto can buy you a decent koto, two decent koto could buy you a low mid range juyo, two low range juyo could buy a high end juyo or TJ, two kidneys may buy you half a signed Kiyomaro etc..😉

 

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My issue is that I now put the condition of the blade as a priority so katana-length koto blades tend to be outside my budget.

 

I had my eye on the sue Sa blade at Tokka which was a lovely sword apart from a large kirikomi on the mune and, unfortunately, I would have my eye drawn to this continually despite the blade being otherwise healthy. This blade did hang around for a while and seemed a good deal at, IIRC, Yen 900,000 but that kirikomi - how much did it affect the price and I'd be wondering if the buyer was able to negotiate it down.

 

With the Nao shizu that Chris proposed, I have a problem in that I'm always put off by a back story. It starts my brain working on how much of the price is comprised of the story rather than the substance and where there is nothing to substantiate the story, it's a no go.

 

Anyway, off to read my "Paupers guide to collecting Nihonto" again. :)

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12 hours ago, FZ1 said:

Christopher (& Jason),

 

Indeed that is indeed something to aspire to, and I'd love to have something like that, but at 11,000 quid, it'll only find its way to me on the back of a lottery win! 

:flog:    :laughing:

 

It's also really inspiring to hear that 5,000 quid only gets me a "cobbled-up mess for Westerners".  Mind you, quite a few other paupers on the forum seem to get by in my price range, so I think I'm probably in pretty good company.  :thumbsup:

Cheers,

Jon

 

We use the term "cobbled" a lot but again worth mentioning that folk have been cobbling koshirae together for hundreds of years.

 

There are things to look for when buying swords with a koshirae.

 

Fit.....is the saya and tsuka made to fit the sword?, does everything line up ok for kozuka/kogai

Seppa, do they match the size of the fuchi correctly?, are there too many ? (not to say you wont find examples in the Tokyo museum with seppa that are undersized or stick out like a dogs hind leg)

Ray skin............old or new

Ito...........old or new

Ito wrap, done well or amateurish

Damage

Quality of fittings

 

Small things can be put right, loose tsuba, seppa, small damage, not the end of the world.

 

 

Over the years, seen some very good deals on good swords with good antique koshirae. Nick and Ray sold some very nice examples if my memory serves me right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As for the argument that one should save for a better sword; I agree in principle but this commitment often comes when you have a direction of what you like and hence save for. Also, there's no limit to this argument, I.e two midrange shinto can buy you a decent koto, two decent koto could buy you a low mid range juyo, two low range juyo could buy a high end juyo or TJ, two kidneys may buy you half a signed Kiyomaro etc..😉

 

Lovely argument and very true. Set a time horizon and abide to it. Reselling and upgrading is part of the fun also, and not too difficult as long as you set yourself to a few blades at the time.  

 

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I had my eye on the sue Sa blade at Tokka which was a lovely sword apart from a large kirikomi on the mune and, unfortunately, I would have my eye drawn to this continually despite the blade being otherwise healthy. This blade did hang around for a while and seemed a good deal at, IIRC, Yen 900,000 but that kirikomi - how much did it affect the price and I'd be wondering if the buyer was able to negotiate it down.

 

I saw this one and I thought it was fine piece for the price, I do not know if this was a kirikomi or just a flaw. I like Kirikomi, so these tend to be neutral (or a positive) to me. In any case it's the best place to have a flaw, in the mune. Often one can negotiate a little off the price, depending on the dealer's belief about opportunity cost of providing the discount. 

 

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With the Nao shizu that Chris proposed, I have a problem in that I'm always put off by a back story. It starts my brain working on how much of the price is comprised of the story rather than the substance and where there is nothing to substantiate the story, it's a no go.

 

This is where investigation becomes interesting. Some dealers add provenance because of a mon on a koshirae (which is very weak as an argument) - most often, there is some other evidence, such as writing on an old sayagaki, ranging from weak to strong. In any case, these need to be investigated carefully, and sometimes one can find absolutely stellar stories behind a sword. Like here. Few things are more rewarding in the hobby! 

 

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To me this Naoe Shizu is a good example of how subjective koto can be. There is no visible activity within hamon, given the photography angle its pale grey color suggests it could be predominantly nioi based. You can't see sunagashi, or inidividual nie grains.

 

The level of photography precludes any strong conclusions, and this is the case with 95% of dealer photos unfortunately. I have someone in Japan who is highly trustworthy and quite exceptional at taking videos and inspecting blades which are candidate for acquisition, his name is Ohira and he speaks excellent english (info@shoubudou.co.jp). Highly recommended. 

 

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With koshirae, if you want something really collectible, it has to be: purposefully made, fittings by the same hand, lacquer work underlining the style... none of the blades shown in this thread does that. If its not collectible grade, then for me personally the fittings' quality is the main concern and the basis for cost analysis, whether it was assembled a bit earlier or a bit later is far less important. 

 

Agree! Issaku Koshirae is where it's at. I would however object about "none of these" - The Nubukini tanto koshirae linked here, and perhaps the Naoe Shizu Koshirae (needs better photo) have collectible value in and for themselves. Some simple mon-based designs with fine nanako and consistent presentation are attractive and collectible like here. At the highest level one can find things like this sublime Ikkin issaku here. Most often, these get separated to extract an extra million yen or so. Best protection against this practice is the mention of the koshirae on the Juyo paper (Some examples here.)

 

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I have someone in Japan who is highly trustworthy and quite exceptional at taking videos and inspecting blades which are candidate for acquisition, his name is Ohira and he speaks excellent english (info@shoubudou.co.jp). Highly recommended. 

 

 

Maybe, but very expensive judging by this example 

 

http://www.shoubudou.co.jp/products/detail.php?product_id=171

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don't think there is really anything wrong to collect (apart from fakes ofc) depending on one's means and what makes people happy

 

Following Matt's comment, here's a bit of context about what this all means to me (Nihoto, collecting, etc), and "why now".

 

I'm just starting in a new hobby.  I want to learn about Nihonto, their history and also the historical context in which they were created.  I find all this fascinating and in-line with my long interest in military history (possibly as a result of 12 years service in my youth), so I'm doing a lot of reading, studying and asking questions.  The opportunities for studying swords "in-hand" is unavailable to me at present, so reading/asking is my next best option.   

 

However, collecting one or more swords will be a hobby, an interest and a pass-time for me; it's not going to be the central factor in my life (I've also got a family and a couple of motorbikes!).   

If I spend my whole life waiting and saving for something better, I'll just be "some bloke that reads about nihonto", whereas if I buy a sword now (however inadequate), I can learn from the blade, the fittings/koshirae, your comments about it, and (potentially) the mistakes I've made if it's a poor choice.   In short, I don't (yet) have the commitment to aspire to a "two kidney" sword or to wait years to find out what owning/studying a sword is like. 

 

5,000 quid (Approx 760,000 Yen or 7,000 USD) is a lot of money to me and is only available after flogging one of my bikes and some militaria (I didn't sell to buy a sword; other reasons, but that's why I have some money available for hobbies now).  However, I know what I can afford to spend and what I can afford to risk/lose.  Spending years saving-up more to get into a hobby at a higher level doesn't appeal to me and won't make me happy (ref Matt's quote).

 

The original post in this thread asked two questions about a few swords I could afford and liked (i.e. Red-Flags on these swords and questions to ask about them).  Thank you very much to all that helped answer those questions and also for the additional advice received.

 

Now that I have had the order confirmed, I'll tell you that I chose the first one in the list, the Owari ( https://www.Japanese-sword-katana.jp/katana/2110-1092.htm ) with the help of the people that responded). 

 

If anyone's interested, I can explain why I went for that one (new bloke's view!), but I'll post it in a different thread in a few weeks, along with a report of the buying/importing experience.  In that way, my thoughts (and the resulting constructive criticism from members) will hopefully be more useful for other new starters, rather than burying that info in this thread.

 

I'm happy with my choice, but I'm now expecting to be led to the pillory for the commencement of my public humiliation! 

 

Cheers,

 

Jon

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3 hours ago, mywei said:

As for the argument that one should save for a better sword; I agree in principle but this commitment often comes when you have a direction of what you like and hence save for. Also, there's no limit to this argument, I.e two midrange shinto can buy you a decent koto, two decent koto could buy you a low mid range juyo, two low range juyo could buy a high end juyo or TJ, two kidneys may buy you half a signed Kiyomaro etc..😉

 

 

Took me 15 years of nihonto collecting to start specializing. But then one is facing the fact I have an opportunity to buy for cheap mid to high end Bizen swords at least once every year (and I don't collect Bizen), which all then go to friends and dealers, but never had an opportunity to get a deal on Awataguchi (which I do). Specialization often means one is no longer too active in collecting. Transiotioned to the stage of keeping long term but a few blades.

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42 minutes ago, Shugyosha said:

I’ve looked at at again and it looks better second time around. I’m sure you’ve made a good choice and thanks for letting us play around at spending your money.:thumbsup:

 

I looked again too, and actually, for a katana with TH and decent antique koshirae/shirasaya thought the price was pretty fair indeed.

 

 

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