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Soten_Fan

First time buyer, needs advice!

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Hi there,

 

I am a 33 year old male who decided that it is about time I buy my first nihonto. I have been passionate about Japanese swords for many years now, but I was never wealthy enough to get practical with my hobby. The problem is that I am still not a wealthy man, so this kind of limits my options. In fact, as I recently lost my job due to the crisis, logic dictates that it is not the best time to indulge into my hobbies.

 

However, I feel that as life is short, I should just go ahead. Hey, it would bloody make me feel better, so why not? One of my first concerns was if I should save lots of money to buy a high-end nihonto or if I should buy a low-end starter blade in order to avoid painful mistakes. I chose the second option as I would need to save for a loooong time before I could afford a high-end blade. Also, It is very difficult to find high-end blades in my country, so I wouldn't want to buy such a blade online with all the risks that go with it (fraud, postal mishaps, customs mishaps, etc)

 

So, for the time being I am limited to the swords that I can find in antique shops and flea markets in my small town. A polished blade would be wishfull thinking, as the most usual finds are overpriced rusty WWII katanas. Luckily, I can tell them apart. I recently found in a local antique shop, a selection of wakizashis, that seemed interesting enough. Here is a photo from the shop's website:

 

greekwaki.jpg

 

No photo of the blades unfortunately, but I went there and inspected the blades so I will try to describe them as best as possible. They are rusty but not too rusty. At least no active red rust was present. The blades were not tired as the hamon was visible and thick. The style of the hamon in the bottom two was choji midare I think. Small kisaki. Also there were some chips along the cutting edge, but nothing too major. Unfortunately the shopkeeper didn't know anything about the blades, and I am not versed enough to tell the age or style. I don't even know if they are signed. The asking price is 1500 euros each. It is a lot, but I have seen shopkeepers asking 2500 for rusty WWII guntos in my city..

 

Any advice? Should I go for it? I know that without any blade photos I am asking for the impossible, but can any of you wise gentlemen tell me anything more about these swords and their age from the Koshirae alone? All three swords have excellent same with big nodules, and the middle one has nice black leather ito with a very unusual sun-looking tsuba.

 

Thanks in advance for any advice! :thanks:

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My advice is to wait and buy one in polish with paper from a dealer in Japan you know you can trust like one below, don't waste your money on the unknown like i did in the past. I have bought swords from them below and i trust them, let others buy out of polish swords that know more then us.

 

http://www.aoi-art.com/

 

http://www.samuraishokai.jp/index.html

 

http://www.e-sword.jp/newlineup.htm

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I am fairly new the field myself and I have a bit of advice.

I would suggest buying a blade in Polish-as this way you can learn from it.

It's hard for a beginner to tell if a blade is restorable also. It's very time consuming having one restored also.

Also as is usually stated-you might want to consider saving that money-and buying a good assortment of books. That way you will learn characteristics and terminology, and you might even begin to know what characteristics interest you. Look at high end sites that good up close pictures of grain and temper activities.

 

Also I'm sure there is someone that sells swords where you live.

 

Here are a couple suggestions for books.

 

Samurai Sword: A Handbook

~John Yumato

The Japanese Sword: A Comprehensive Guide (Japanese Arts Library)

~ Kanzan Sato

The Connoisseurs Book of Japanese Swords

~ Kokan Nagayama

 

 

Best of luck.

Jamie

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The 3 wakizashi‘s, some of them are rusted and chipped, and the nakago‘s are undetected, i.e. you do not know if they are signed or possibly shortend. Under these conditions keep away. You are living in a European country as you talk about Euro. Well € 1500 are ca. $ 2000.

It is better to wait and to buy something in a price range a bit higher, but a sword signed and papered, that will give you full satisfaction and is in any case salable.

 

Have a look at this site, Wakizashi Ujifusa f.e.

http://www.nihonto.com/8.6.10.html

 

There are other reliable dealers in USA

 

Eric

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I would resist buying from a Japanese dealer for a while. The reasons are plentiful. Costs and methods of transport etc. On the home page of the Nihonto Message Board, is a list of dealers. I would recommend looking at all of them and the pictures, descriptions therein. If buying from a Dealer, I would recommend, one from either America, Australia or the UK. Also, I believe most if not all, have an inspection/return policy.

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Agree with David, There are some great deals to be had in Australia and the USA at the moment, I have several wakizashi in the lower price range discussed most already fully restored in Japan, full polish,new sayas ,tsukas, all the hard work aready done by professional Japanese craftsman,

 

 

Regards

 

John

 

Nihonto Australia

 

http://www.nihonto.com..au

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Thank you all for your replies. 8 replies in a few hours are way more than I was expecting. You certainly treat newcomers properly here! :)

 

On the subject of books, I think on the theoretical aspect I am on a OK level. I have the Kanzan Sato book and the Yoshindo Yoshihara one. So, I think that I can safely tell if a blade is restorable or not. These particular ones seemed alright to me. Obviously I am aware that with the same money I could buy a very decent polished and papered waki online, but there are some facts that need to be taken into account.

 

A website like Aoi Art has good blades with some of the best prices around from what I have seen. However that means importing a sword from outside the EU into my country. First problem is the customs duty tax. Such item is regarded luxurious according to our law, which means that I would have to pay import duty tax up to 50% of the item's value. The second problem is that even though it is not illegal to own swords in my country and you don't need any special permit to own an antique, I would need a historical weapons import license in order to import one from abroad. Unfortunately I would have to do that for every blade I want to import.. The bureocracy is a nightmare. A friend of mine waited over two months for his license to go through. In the meantime the sword was kept at customs. You know what this means. A clueless customs official may decide to reenact scenes from the 7 Samurai with my sword. Or merely inspect the blade with bare hands.. The obvious answer to this would be to buy from within the european union. However I have noticed that blades in european sites are usually inferior and way more expensive from the ones that you can find in US or Japanese sites. And in any case, I would still have to go through the import license procedure, although I am not too sure about that.

 

On the other hand, the antique shop with the three wakis that I posted is only a 20-minute walk from my house. You can see why I feel tempted about them. That's why I need to know if you kind gentlemen can tell me anything about these three wakis just by looking at the koshirae alone. I know that this is a very difficult thing to ask. At the end of the day, would 1500 euros be a very unwise expense for one of these swords especially if the blade turns out to be a not so special one?

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At the end of the day, would 1500 euros be a very unwise expense for one of these swords especially if the blade turns out to be a not so special one?

Yes, definitely!

The blade could turn out to have a fatal flaw, or have ugly fukure or the nakago could be cleaned and ruined. Since most of the value of the sword lies in the blade, you would be taking a big risk.

If you have 1500 Euro lying around, by all means go for it. But I wouldn't do it without detailed examination of the blades and nakago.

Sometimes the one with the relaly good blade is the one in the worst koshirae.

You want to decide on your choice of wife based on who has the best looking clothes? ;)

 

Brian

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^ That's a good idea. I will go down there sometime this week and I will ask to take photos of the blades. If I am successful I will post them here so I can get your opinion.

 

Thank you guys!

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Hi guys,

 

Went to the shop this afternoon and took some pics. Owner wasn't too thrilled and in a hurry, so the pics aren't that professional. The lighting is bad, and the hamon on the swords is not as visible as with naked eye. You should be able to draw some conclusions though.

 

Just click on the thumbnails for a bigger view.

 

This is the first waki. It has a nice handachi koshirae which is in rather good condition.

 

a47f9298562237.jpg

 

This is the blade stripped. When I saw this photo I was shocked because the blade seems to be full of reddish rust. However, with naked eye those look like whitish patches. I don't know why it turned out like this in the photo. Does rust show more prominent in photos?

 

9eaff298562239.jpg

 

Here is the tang. It looks like it was shortened to fit in the koshirae. So is the blade older than the koshirae?

 

32661498562240.jpg

 

This is what I am talking about. Here it shows like a white patch instead of red. You can see a bit of the hamon on the right.

 

e513b598562243.jpg

 

This is the kissaki

 

3ff20798562255.jpg

 

The tsuba looks unusual to me. What do you think?

 

e3cce498562256.jpg

 

The other side.

 

d1494498562257.jpg

 

Now the second waki. It has a rayskin same with nice fuchi-kashira but in tired condition. The blade is less rusty, but only slightly. There wasn't time to reveal the tang on this one.

 

2da0d198565614.jpg

 

Some really good quality rayskin here. Both wakis had a full wrap.

 

9e586298565615.jpg

 

Fucchi-kashira are nice, but the tsuba has seen better days.

 

8c1dd598565616.jpg df2c5c98565645.jpg

 

The blade. Hamon is there, but it doesn't really show in the photos.

 

24a70598565648.jpg a5cd9d98565650.jpg 7015c398565652.jpg

 

After seeing the blades for the second time, I am not as keen on them as I was after the first viewing. I am not sure if they are worth 1500 euros each. I will leave the verdict to you though. Still, I would like to know if you can tell me stuff about the swords like their age, as a history lesson.

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Well I cannot not say much but; "It looks like it was shortened to fit in the koshirae. So is the blade older than the koshirae?"

The blade was shortened, they often are, either for compliance with weapon laws of the day or fashion or individual preference or other reasons.

The tsuka would have been made to fit the nakago not the other way around.

Unless there is a famous name involved I think you can do better for your money.

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I am a 33 year old male who decided that it is about time I buy my first nihonto. The problem is that I am still not a wealthy man, In fact, as I recently lost my job due to the crisis, logic dictates that it is not the best time to indulge into my hobbies. However, I feel that as life is short, I should just go ahead.

 

A most interesting logic here, "Soten_Fan". Do you have a real name?

 

reinhard

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Dimitri...

Appears as though you are in Greece? Not sure we have had a member from there yet, and I am sure that there are not a lot of Nihonto to choose from there, but you should go with your gut instinct and rather wait for something more suitable.

Maybe there are members who can advise you on acquiring a new sword and getting it into Greece? Not much can be gained from purchasing one of the ones you pictured.

 

Brian

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Yeap, I am from Greece. The 21% is the standard VAT. I was told that for such an item coming from Japan, there would be extra duties on top of that. I can't know for sure as the bureaucracy here is such a nightmare that it is very difficult to find solid and accurate information.

 

I don't think that I am going to buy any of the blades I posted. I know that buyer's impulse more than often leads to buyer's remorse. I know I can do better with my money, the problem is how.

 

I may travel to the UK in a few months. If the timing is right, I may visit an antique arms fair or visit some of the antique shops there. I don't know though if I would be able to bring back any sword on the plane with me. I know that it used to be possible (you had to declare it in advance and take it through the scanner in the oversize luggage department). Is it still possible to do that?

 

Finally, for academic reasons only, is there any info you can tell me guys about the swords I posted? I am plain curious.

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the bureaucracy here is such a nightmare that it is very difficult to find solid and accurate information.

 

Like Italy. My suggestion is : be extra-sure about import laws in your *area* and what is possibly happening to you in case an infringement occur, even if in good faith.

If Greece is like Italy (One Face, One Race :D ) laws are interpreted differently from region to region.

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