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Is a date worth 1,000,000 JPY?


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I'm very new to Nihonto but have been trying to learn more by purchasing books, reading up on the art of the Japanese sword, its history, forms of creation, and preservation. In starting a collection (and buying my first blade), I've narrowed my focus to the Muromachi period, in particular, the early half of this era before the mass production of swords for use in the waring states period initiated by the Onin War in 1467.  I've also focused in on purchasing a longer wakizashi or shorter katana given the highly constrained space in my current living environment (+ easier to keep in a limited-dimension, humidity regulated display case). 

 

I've identified two blades which have all of the characteristics I've been looking for: 

 

1. Morimitsu wakizashi: (1,800,000 JPY) https://ginzaseikodo.com/en/product/swords/morimitsu/

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2. Yasumitsu Wakizashi: https://www.aoijapan.com/wakizashi-yasumitsu/ (800,000 JPY)

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Both blades come with a koshirae, were made by oei bizen smiths (Morimitsu and Yasumitsu were supposedly even brothers), have NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon tokens, were signed, and have similar dimensions and looks. However, the one by Morimitsu costs 1,800,000 JPY while the one by Yasumitsu is 800,000 JPY. The hamon looks relatively similar to my untrained and inexperienced eye, although perhaps the hamon in the boshi of the Morimitsu is a little more vivid. The biggest difference difference to me, a highly inexperienced perspective, is the presence of a date on the former and the lack of a date on the latter. 

 

Is the presence of a date the reason the Morimitsu blade costs 1,000,000 JPY more than the one by Yasumitsu? What am I missing?

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I would say that the date does add a great deal - but what we are seeing here is not the hamon but the polish - really need better photos of the temperline. Its Aoi so I am going to pop over and see if there are oshigata, The other thing you need is a close examination of the jigane - if the Morimitsu is tighter overall and the Yasumitsu has openings or small imperfections that could also hurt the price. Condition is everything...

-t

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56 minutes ago, Artorius said:

I've identified two blades which have all of the characteristics I've been looking for:

 

Perhaps more ... https://www.google.com/search?q=Morimitsu+wakizashi%3A+(1%2C800%2C000+JPY)&oq=Morimitsu+wakizashi%3A+(1%2C800%2C000+JPY)&aqs=chrome..69i57&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

 

Length, plus, quality of polish, quality of koshirae, not to mention quality of the sword itself in addition to the presence of a date can quickly account for price differences. All of these factors have to be evaluated carefully. A discriminating collector will be searching and looking for the best example, top 10%, of a particular smith's work. Something that stands out. 

 

While shopping, especially with a reasonable budget, a reputable dealer(s) can help in finding an excellent example that meets all your objectives.  

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Ginza Seikodo is a more expensive shop in general.

With Muromachi Bizen signature placement close to mune (Aoi), there can be a looming suspicion its a later generation. Dated signature, or Oei-specific signature style would dispel that.

Ginza has good sayagaki and higher class koshirae.

 

No, I am personally not at all impressed by this Morimitsu at this price level.

 

If it were pre-Muromachi dated signatures go at very high premium there, especially if the name is a good one.

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The blade I personally like at AOI right now is:

https://www.aoijapan.com/katana-mumei-heianjo-yoshifusa/

Which obviously crosses all the wrong points, being suriage Muromachi.

Unfortunately the judgement appears to be solid. That's how Sanjo Heianjo tends to look like, but they can be of very solid quality. 

If one has the means, this is:

https://www.aoijapan.com/katanamumei-aoe-yoshitsugu/

a truly great sword however.

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Thank you for the insight, everyone!

 

Brian -- are you referencing the `Wanted to Buy` (https://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/forum/16-wanted-to-buy/) forum? Or some combination of the Dealer Showcase, Auctions and Online Sales or Sellers, and/or For Sale or Trade?

 

I've spent the past two weeks shifting through and translating Japanese-based dealer websites, and would break through the "10-20k danger zone" for a signed and dated koto wakizashi, but have admittedly experienced a bit of difficulty in this search. Any referrals for particular stores, auctions, or dealers would be appreciated. 

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Chris,
Check out the Dealer section here, and maybe pm one or 2 guys as they have lots of stock they don't show here. Ray Singer, Mark/Grey, Nick Ricupero in Canada, Darcy etc. There is also the For Sale section here.
Most will advise you to look for a katana. I personally wouldn't worry too much about a dated one if it has papers. But that's up to you I guess. I think at that level you really should look for a katana
@Ray Singer @Nickupero @Mark @Darcy
 

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In my personal opinion the Yasumitsu at Aoi is ok, while I think the Morimitsu at Seikodo is very good.

 

In general I am not of fan of price discussions even though I have tracked them for years. :laughing: I feel people can have very different ideas on what something is worth (clearly can be seen in some of the recent western auctions). There are lot of Morimitsu and Yasumitsu wakizashi around and some items not for sale now will eventually pop up for sale. There is also huge gap in market prices between the low tier vs. high tier items. For Morimitsu wakizashi I've seen 380k - 5,5M and for Yasumitsu wakizashi I've seen 300k - 5M for public online listings. Often the better quality items fall into the inventory of sellers with great reputation (who can most likely squeeze the most out of the item).

 

Here are some comparison items to give you idea what is out there.

Morimitsu (was listed for 1,8M) https://ginza.choshuya.co.jp/sale/gj/8301/10/02.htm

Morimitsu (was listed for 2M) https://web.archive.org/web/20160725194051/http:/iidakoendo.com:80/4101

Morimitsu (was listed for 2,2M) https://www.sanmei.com/contents/media/T125975_W8053_PUP_E.html

Yasumitsu (was listed for 1,5M) https://web.archive.org/web/20131027234208/http:/samurai-nippon.net/V-1059/index.html

Yasumitsu (was listed for 1,3M) https://www.nipponto.co.jp/swords5/WK328357.htm

Yasumitsu (was listed for 1,1M) https://www.aoijapan.net/wakizashi-bishu-osafune-yasumitsu/

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Thank you for listing these past sales, Jussi. Having insight into past data is tremendously helpful and makes me quite a bit more comfortable with this purchase (i.e., it appears the price is reasonable in the context of previous listings). 

 

One thing I found strange with the blade itself -- there appears to be white (temper?) markings on the Ha towards nakago? Does anyone know what these represent? 

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Paul B has gotten my niji mei Yasumitsu, a fantastic tachi with the tiniest, cutest and deadliest ko kissaki I have ever seen. he has written an article about it. Niji mei Yasumitsu means first Oei generation. He forged mainly suguha blades with bo utsuri. His jigane is incredible. Niji mei has no nengo.

Hamon like Morimitsu should bring an added value

Here are some links to Yasumitsu blades.

 

you must not have noticed but I dig Oei Bizen Yasumitsu😂🤣😄

 

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*** Oei Bizen Wakizashi

 

One thing to be cautious about is that for some reason the Oei Bizen smiths went through a window of production period where they made an excessively large number of dated wakizashi and some O-tanto. Whatever the reason, the ratio of their wakizashi to their tachi and some tanto is disproportionate and the sheer supply of them brings the price of the waks down a bit. The quality also varies significantly. You have high end pieces like the one attached for about 45-50k many years ago (I cannot remember the level of papers), and you have others that you can purchase for less than 10k.

 

Do pay attention to the jigane and quality of the hamon. Yasumitsu, Morimitsu, and usually Iesuke hamon should be very vibrant.

 

 

Yasumitsu wak4.jpg

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yasumistu wak6.jpg

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7 hours ago, Jean said:

In fact, I forget to mention it and a big thanks to my friend Curran, daito are scarce in Oei Bizen school.

 

Yasumitsu tachi:     Though to Scotland several times, I've never been to England. When I make it back to Glasgow or finally actually set foot in sassenach grass (please, meant as joke)... I'm going to knock on Paul's door and ask to finally see this crazy homage example he has. Very rare example at one high end of what Yasumitsu could do. His mastery of jigane, hamon, and utsuri  gets a little crazy in the best pieces.

 

 -- Hopefully Paul will let me in. I'll bring some American Garden Gnomes as a gift, unless Paul would prefer some American Bourbon. It isn't something I have had in many years, but I do have to admit it is one of the better things in the USA.

 

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18 minutes ago, Curran said:

 

Yasumitsu tachi:     Though to Scotland several times, I've never been to England. When I make it back to Glasgow or finally actually set foot in sassenach grass (please, meant as joke)... I'm going to knock on Paul's door and ask to finally see this crazy homage example he has. Very rare example at one high end of what Yasumitsu could do. His mastery of jigane, hamon, and utsuri  gets a little crazy in the best pieces.

 

 -- Hopefully Paul will let me in. I'll bring some American Garden Gnomes as a gift, unless Paul would prefer some American Bourbon. It isn't something I have had in many years, but I do have to admit it is one of the better things in the USA.

 

I second the Garden Gnomes being one of the better things in the USA

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As much as I hate to divert this thread from the illuminating topic of American Garden Gnomes....

 

And at the risk of returning to poor taste jokes about nuclear massacre...

 

It looks there may be a kizu that was polished out (see inner blue circle for a circular indentation in the ha)? Another image taken earlier also shows a small circular shadow in the same location, this time without any white markings. 

 

If an expert would lend their insight and weigh in, I would be very appreciative. I would like to make a purchase decision on this blade later this week, and a flaw would (obviously) affect my thinking.

after.png

before.png

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Its something to ask from a seller. Can be anything from poorly cleaned oil, "smudge" in the polish or even a sign of possible fukure. The last one is unlikely given the shop's reputation.

If you like the style, its a good piece.  I don't, but then I frankly can't stand almost the entire lineup of Bizen products. I also personally feel that the top of the line shops make sense when one buys absolutely top of the line items, usually with top of the line papers, its just something cheaper sellers will not offer that often. This being said, again if you really like this particular style than this piece might cross all the good points - certainly Oei, signed, dated, good koshirae etc. Oei Bizen items tend to be quite expensive in Japan now. I had difficulty in selling them outside Japan at comparable levels though. 

 

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I agree - its information that best comes from Seikōdō, rather than us try to guess at what is going on in a low-res photo. The sword already received a Tokubetsu Hozon certificate (not to mention a sayagaki from Honma Kunzan), so it isn't a fatal flaw. Or, to be more precise, it wasn't a fatal flaw at the time it received the TH appraisal. 

 

Now it could be that the sword was sent for polishing after it received TH, and that polish revealed a fatal flaw, but somehow I don't think that's likely. 

 

https://markussesko.com/2016/08/25/honma-junjis-kun-in-kunzan/

 

 

 

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