The Guide of the Armor Mainly on the Market
It could be said that we are facing the biggest economic depression in
a hundred years. Under such economic conditions, the antiques trade is
directly affected. Dealers and collectors of armor and swords are not immune
to these conditions. As these are objects that have no value in daily life;
except to collectors, there demise is understandable.
Almost half a century has passed since I first came into contact with the
world of armor. However, the recent fall in the armor and sword market
is unprecedented. Even in recent memories, if we take the case of a mid-range
a Kebiki-odoshi Nimai Dou Gusoku with a 62ken suji kabuto, cost in the
region of 1,500,000 yen in the professional world. It wasn’t 50 years ago,
but around 15 years ago. Right now, the price is half of what it was then.
If we look at a sword from the same grade (intermediate to uppergrade)
with Tokubetsu Hozon paper from NBTHK, the value is around 600,000 to 700,000
yen. This is almost half of what it was last fall. We are not talking about
a drop in market value from ten years ago.
A culturally important koto sword (with no signature) which is judged to
be the work of a common swordsmith will fall to 1,500,000 yen before long.
As we live in an information accessible society, such a price drop will
become known by a collector immediately. Consequently, the interest in
the artifacts becomes less and the desire to purchase follows the same
What does it mean? It shows that the general collectors escape from the
old armor because of the economic uneasiness I mentioned at first. They,
the novice collectors, who supported the armor price structure, have left
the market. Naturally, the armors and swords left from them will be rotated
among professionals in vain. If the empty rotation is repeated, the price
of arms will keep dropping. In particular, sword auctions which mainly
operated by a system of deferred payment are likely to have problem in
In brief, it means that dark days have arrived. There is no quick or easy
remedy that can provide a solution to the problem dramatically. Therefore,
the professionals treating swords and armors have to stare at themselves
again and plow their field diligently and plant a seeding. We also have
to reclaim the people who seem to support the field one by one and enlarge
the number of the lovers. It’s the time when a patient effort is asked
till green spring comes. Unless there is a definitive solution, we cannot
but bear the storm of intense cold and keep walking along the road soberly
with facing such a situation.
There are various guides to Japanese armor. However, most of these just
describe famous armors and explain the changes in style over the centuries.
It is a long time since I have heard a request for a more detailed guides
to armor as opposed to a simple one.
A more “detailed guide” includes ; a better appreciation of armor ; a more
detailed analysis ; buying armor as an investment and guidance on the latest
market price that will return a profit.
The wise collector is not so interested in a guide which is academic.He
expects a guide which is up-to-date and concerned with the buying and selling
I’ve devoted almost half a century to Japanese armor. My interest has been
through academic research and trade. Such a two-fold approach must be unaccountable
and impracticable for an ordinary researcher and trader of antique arms.
Looking back over the years, there have been more pleasant memories than
After the age of sixty, thinking becomes much more clear and I am grateful
to be alive and share the experience that I have collected over the years.
It is a pleasure to pass on my knowledge to others in this field.
However, I would not refer to the old armors which belongs to the realm
of archaeology or which most of the general public hardly handle, such
as Oyoroi of the Middle Ages. I would like to focus on common arms mainly
like a Tosei-Gusoku. I do not use references from other publications in
my description at all. It might be out of place for me to use the words
of Stendhal here, but I’ll think about the future furthermore with “Writing
my experience until now in the deep of my brain with remembering, of remembering
them with writing.”
In short, understanding of the current market is the objective of this
manuscript. However, due to the recent fall in armor prices, my tone at
times may become monotonous due to the seriousness of the problem. Still,
I’ll do my best with the belief “The sun rise again.”
Armor and Kabuto, the Soul of the Samurai
-Former Theory of a Realistic Story-
It would be too open to talk about armor from a monetary view point from
the beginning. Therefore, I’ll start from idealistic and historically investigate
to some extent.
The sword has been called “the soul of the samurai” from ancient times.
Armor and kabuto should not be seen as ‘second class’ when compared with
a sword. They were, after all, important accoutrements of the samurai as
well as the sword and were held in high esteem by them.
In particular, armor and kabuto passed down by old precious families always
had legends apotheosized partly. Furthermore, if we investigate further
and examine many of the old samurai families widely, we can find that an
armor which belonged to an important ancestor was worshipped out of respect
for the departed soul and given pride of place in the samurai family home.
It can be said that the armor and kabuto were the mind itself of the samurai
in the same way as well as the sword. There is a noted example; the Takeda
family during the Sengoku period and “the armor of Tatenashi” which had
been passed down through several generations. “Tatenashi” armor is not
confirmed solely to the Takeda family. Generally, when we refer armor “Takenashi”
so far, it means the Takenashi armor of the Takeda family from Kai province.
It is said that the Oyoroi of Kzokura Kigaeshi which was handed down to
Kanda Tenjin in Enzan city as a National Treasure is “Takenashi.” This
armor was restored and re-modeled so excessively that there is theory that
it’s not the original. Therefore, the truth is still not clear so far.
I will avoid further historical discussion of this armor that was in the
possession of the Takeda family in the Sengoku period was dedicated as
a treasure from the ancestor, Shiragi Saburo Yoshimitsu because it was
handed down with its flag in a serious ceremony. At the ceremony, the engagements
pledged in front of the flag, they cannot be overturned with any reasons.
Therefore, the armor was unquestionable. As such a historical example may
become too long; I’ll refrain from using similar ones.
As I treated above, armor and kabuto were the ‘soul’ of the samurai. Once
upon a time, when the people of Japan were restricted by a feudal class
system, the handling of swords was restricted except to ruling samurai
class. It is understandable that these samurai, who were charged with risking
their life of the battlefield, relied on armor for personal defense.
Recognition of Traditional Culture
During the Meiji period, armor and kabuto which should have been the strength
of the samurai, lost their position due to the abortion of the feudal system
and became merely ‘antiques’. It was an unforeseen circumstance and a sad
Later, after World War Ⅱ, due to the Japanese lifestyle and limited space
in modern housing, only a few families were left who displayed a suit of
armor at modern home. A ‘display of armor and kabuto came to mean a decoration
for the Boy’s Day Festival in May.
In these days, the modern generations have forgotten the importance to
be ‘Japanese’. I don’t mean to instigate extreme nationalism. However,
my concern is that the Japanese race will become ‘a lost race’ before long
unless Japanese people do not recognize their own identity.
Shockingly, I have asked this question to all the people that I have met,
“How would you feel if Japan were to be merged with and became a state
of USA or China?” They replied, “I don’t have an option”, “There is nothing
wrong with the idea”, “I would welcome being a state of the US.” It could
be said that, at present, Japan is a dependency of USA in a matter of speaking.
We depend on USA from more than 90% of our armaments. It is the same as
a country that does not have the honor of being independent. Perhaps, if
Japan becomes a de facto American territory, we may feel relieved. As I
do not understand of care for the complicated matters of politics, nor
say any more on this subject. However, I would like to finish by saying
that it may be necessary for Japanese to realize ‘the traditional mind
of the Japanese soul’ again.
The Japanese Soul
Our days could be over before long. In the next generations after that,
the Japanese will not be able to lead the scientific and technological
field. In short, Japan must live with their traditional culture; it’s a
miserable and aged nation.
Furthermore, understanding of old Japanese culture gets to be difficult.
We must think about our past and a new future. Therefore, I think it is
an important step that we consider Japanese armor (which was the soul of
the ancestral Japanese) and the culture that armor brought us.
I seem to have reached a logical conclusion that recognizing armor and
kabuto and thinking about the Japanese future id the same. The basic approach
is “to gain new knowledge by studying the old”, in other words, investigate
the soul of the Japanese.
We cannot begin to understand the root of our soul just by looking at beautiful
artifacts through the display case of a museum. The depth of samurai culture
that arms present to us is not such an easy matter. A constant struggle
with the value of the object before such contemplation; this is often troublesome.
We cannot grasp the true meaning easily.
Rank and Market
History gives equal time both a Hanpo of 10000 yen and a Doumaru of 10000000
yen. In other words, it is “the era” that is important. We can say the
flower is beautiful, and at the same time, a flower is not beautiful; it
does not think so. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In
the same way, the piece of the arms and armor does not have a “fixed price”,
it depends on the buyer.
However, the “reality” includes a general thing, the price theory that
I treat from now on is relative story. There is “absolute” thing that the
restricted money recognizes. It seems to be complicated, in brief, the
article has rank.
An amateur often can be seen saying, “The value of antiques is ambiguous.”
This statement is the most obvious “sign of being an amateur”. They are
also of the opinion that the antique dealer stands to gain from the sale.
They look down on the artifact while secretly coveting it in their heart.
Each artifact has a fixed rank and a market price that corresponds accordingly
to this rank.
The Bias of the Collection and the Market
To Ascertaining the Number of Lovers
The price of an item is controlled by the rule of supply and demand. Apart
from artifacts that have a nationally fixed price, this rule applies to
all products and armor is not the exception to this rule.
It could be said that out of the total population of antiques collectors
is very small. The vast majority of collectors are interested in ceramics,
calligraphy and paintings. It can be said that this majority of collectors
can be compared to a huge forest. The small group of armor collectors,
on the other hand, can be compared to a single old tree in the depths of
a mountain range. Although solitary, it shares an equal background and
history which is as rich as any of the ceramic ware or calligraphy. In
short, the number of armor collector is small.
I already gave the outside of this reason. However, if I say it seriously
a little more, it seems to be plain but is complex. While there seems to
be a promise, it is not easy to understand it. It is like ever-changing,
and where is an established rule?
Considering armor, it is difficult for the general amateur to understand
in many ways. The necessary abilities are, for example, to be able to judge
whether armor is completely matched or to identify the age of construction
and to tell apart an original from a reproduction. Referring to armor,
it is composed of individual materials such as iron, copper, leather, cloth,
silk etc. When they are assembled, it becomes a work of art. What is called,
“a work of assembled art”. Therefore, to “understand armor”, we must first
understand these constituent parts. This is difficult unlike ceramics or
calligraphy; there are so many different materials to understand.
To make understanding more difficult, there is relatively less armor available
to study compared with other works of art.
Deflection of the Collection
Due to the fact that there is such a limited supply of armor, the number
of collectors has dwindled in recent times. Setting up and displaying armor
correctly takes time and is no easy task. At fist glance, it is not easy
to put a value on armor. On the other hand, it is easier to value a single
constituent part. This is one reason why collectors prefer to buy separate
The most popular parts are kabuto and menpo (mask). Both are handy and
easy to understand. After all, kabuto and especially the menpo are the
closest fitting parts to the body and in a way represent the real identity
of the armor.
That’s why there is a strong demand for kabuto and menpo, while the other
parts are ofthen neglected. The largest and and most symbolic part of armor
is the dou (breast plate). The two most important of armor that protect
a samurai are the kabuto and dou. However, apart from the kabuto, it is
difficult for an amateur collector to understand the value of dou.
The dou is not an easy piece of armor to understand. In the case of a Doumaru
or Haramaki from, the last years of the Muromachi period, they are very
expensive. Of course, the price depends on condition. The important parts
are the metal fittings and leather. Replacing, changing or repair of such
metal fittings and leather sections causes a drop in price. The “Kazane“,
of course, are the most important parts of the dou body to judge. Also,
the second most important parts to judge are the above two points.
However, the material which completely clears the situation does not remain
in Doumaru and Haramaki before the middle ages. The problem is the degree
of repair. For example, there are recently many ‘Hassou-kanagu’ (a type
of metal fitting) which are reproduced on old work of the Muromachi era.
Therefore, we should think that original metal fittings in circulation
are very few.
Most modern craftsmen who restore armor are serious people, but there are
some whose motive is only making a quick profit. One such person is known
to replace ‘all’ the old metal fittings on an armor. He also has a habit
of replacing earlier Kozane with those from the later Edo period. We must
be vigilant. A student and serious collector of armor should be wary and
not be deceived by such kinds of ‘modified’ armor.
The market for Doumaru and Haramaki
Around 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 is a far price to pay for a dumaru or haramaki
in the current market. However, an inexperienced collector is unable to
understand by referring to various publication and appraisals.
As I have greater contact with armor and hear these “so-called” appraisals.
However, I’ll warn about it sometimes later. They do not, however, give
a completely accurate picture because there is a wide discrepancy between
appraises and exactly how much authorization they have in the field. The
person purchasing the armor should take more responsibility and trust his
own judgment more. Professionals are forever “complaining” or are “unhappy
with” authority texts, authentication notes on boxes containing objects
of art or accompanying notes of provenance. These are not fair words; however,
they are words that point out the truth. Generally to say, grumbling is
a way of complaining. Often, there are complaints about an old antique
with provenance and it is hard to accept. It is hard to admit it, but such
complaints have some element of truth to tem. The complaints center on
something which “smells fishy” or is “too good to be true”.
A Review of the Old-ryu of Dou
Doumaru and Haramaki from the middle ages have been in existence for a
long time and most known examples are well documented. When a “new discovery”
is made, it is hard to believe it. In recent years, a haramakisaid to belong
to the feudal lord Ushiku of Yamaguchi that had been passed down (with
no old photographs) was “rediscovered”. The discovery was announced in
“Kokka” by Chitora Kawasaki and was written up not only in the “Nihon Katchu
no Shinkenkyuu” (New Study of Japanese Armor) written by Hachiro Yamagami,
but also in other related books. This is an extremely rare example.
It is necessary to take a step back, reflect and re-exermine the real value
of the old type of dou called Doumaru and Haramaki. Those wishing to put
together a serious collection of armor or advanced collectors, hope to
obtain an example of this type of dou, along with old kabuto. There is
no logical reason for this desire. However, it is because so few have survived
that they are in demand. Of course, these types of dou in circulation,
it is almost impossible to find one in beautiful condition. If they are,
most of them usually have been “re-worked” and are no longer the “genuine
article” in spirit. Immaculate dou from this era cannot exist. If a beautiful
example is found, we must look through it to see the original pieces. Such
considerations are of little importance to an armor collector. An affluent
person shows off his wealth and status by displaying such a rare and valuable
antique. In my opinion, an armor collector is best advised not to collect
this type of armor which is either incomplete or re-worked. We will stop
the repetition of the empty slogan that ancient people advocated soon.
The Recognition of the Dou (Trunk) of Modern Times
In comparison with the dou of old, post-Momoyama era dou (in reality they
are from the Edo period) are under-valued. Different types with names such
as Hotoke-dou, Nimai-dou and Sendai-dou. The fall in prices of this so-called
Tousei-gusoku in recent years has been very sharp. In particular, I would
like to mention dou which a common soldier of low-rank wore. I do not want
to imply that collecting and enjoying such dou is a bad thing; merely that
it is not for true connoisseurs of armor. One reason is that this type
of dou was expendable and most have not survived. Of those that have, most
of them are mass-produced items for general use. There are dou featuring
the crest of Mitsunari Ishida but in all certainty, it was applied at a
later date. I have never seen an original dou with suvh a crest. I sometimes
see dou of the common solidier from the Keicho to the Gennna era (early
Edo period) bearing the Ii crest. With great certainty, I can categorically
say these have been applied later. What I need to recognize again about
the various dou that samurai used after Momoyama era.
The Position of the Dou of Modern Times
I would like to reiterate that dou( dou from Tousei-Gusoku) are treated
very badly in terms of price. In short, there are many dou left without
their matching kote, sode etc. Dou of modern armor is only expected to
be displayed together with a kabuto, mask and other parts as complete armor.
It is not popular to display a dou on its own (this is the way collectors
haom the early modern period of Japan). At the present time, it is said
that dou on their own cannot create a good display ‘atmosphere’. The exception
is Nanban dou or that with a high relief strange repousse pattern repossessed
work. In my opinion, it is time to reconsider this way of thinking.
Price of Dou
Because dou has quite various sorts by-ryu or composition, I avoid the
agony to enumerate kinds one by one.
Apart from a polite work such as Marudou of Honkazane, the general market
prices in the professional world are 35,000-70,000 or 80,000yen in the
case of general dou which is mainly constituted by plate. When it is made
by Honkozane, of course it depends on a state, but it will be range of
110,000-250,000yen. Still, it is low price. It is because dou does not
have independent characteristics. Generally, as for Doumaru and Haramaki
which have been considered to be the material of the middle ages (in fact,
there are a lot of materials assumed the Muromachi era by wrong discrimination
and a personal illusion), the price is higher than real value. There are
often admired by the lover who cannot recognize enough value only because
these are rare. In comparison with them, Tousei-dou is given low value
from the beginning by numerous ness of the number of the overwhelming survival
and prose characteristics. The lover has duty to reconsider this loneliness.
Collection of Tousei-dou
Thinking about the above-mentioned point, it will be interesting to collect
Tousei-dou. If the number of lovers is such a perverse person increase
to ten amang them, the market changes. The market of this world of armor
is really small. If there are several people who intend to collect on hundred
“Tousei-dou”, it is sure that dou gets a chance to be realized again. However,
it will be difficult. At first, it takes the place. Also, how is it to
do this? Regardless of the subject, most collectors lose a true purpose
when they come across this problem.
Enjoy a Tousei-dou
The lover of the field will review “the dou” of Tousei-gusoku a little
more. The sorts are various, and constitution diverges into many branches.
It is very pleasant when we examine it in detail. In fact, it is a dou
that a samurai used most regularly, thinking about it from the point of
the practical use. Of course, the kabuto is important, but it is not the
costume which is always put all over the war time. Most samurais let an
attendant have a kabuto (among the armed forces, it was generally forbidden
to put a kabuto in a box, and act). Or they put it up in the stands. When
he wore kabuto, it was lazy way to hang it on a back. He put it on in the
case of emergency. However, he usually wear dou when start on war. It is
right the main body “getting armed”. I’d like to recommend to the individual
lovers that they do not forget the fundamentalmeaning of dou and review
dou of gusoku some other time.
A story lacked sequence, and the story of dou has come earlier. I decide
to rell it about “the kabuyo (helmet)” shich is the center part of the
armor for a while from now on. Generally, most kabuto existing now are
material of Edo period. There are the kabuto of Keicho era or Genna era
belonging to “Momoyama” based on the periodization of the antique are object.
However, there are few existed unexpectedly as it is. Even memento of early
modern is such present conditions; therefore, the material with those days
before the Muromachi era is very few.
It is divided in two kinds roughly when I crassify the lover of the armor.
The one is so-called “old times principles” that respects the remains of
the old times if it is anything. Another is “Principles to do a state to
the first” that do not make much of the times but value perfection and
the state of preservation of the article. Easily to say, there are many
people of professional traders in the former, and the latter has many amateur
The Kabuto of the Old Times
Judging from the above, the kabuto of the Old times such as Hoshi-kabuto
of Kamakura era to Akoda kabuto of Muromachi are loved by the experts of
this field. There is very difficult and troublesome field. The kabuto of
Kamakura era, which has maintained whole of parts, included Shikoro as
it was already became treasure of the shrines and temples. It is necessary
to suspect that it is “stolen goods” at first if that exists in the world
of the trading now.
What the collector of pieces of the old period wants, it will be “kabuto-bachi”
of the Kamakura era. Since the general collectors may still keep them,
there is possibility to get it from them if we work hard and are blessed
with luck. Of course, even if I say “Kabuto-bachi of Kamakura era”, it
is not easy to get as ones handed down are fitting into the box neatly.
Such a material usually has reason and fate. It is the troublesome accessories
in other words. If the words ‘such a transmission...’ is said, the owner
may feel unpleasant after all. Therefore, it is troublesome. It is difficult
to purchase it smoothly.
In addition, it is a kind of generous for the antique to understand its
reputation officially. Since such a special article always comes together
with excellent words. Without the ability adopting a thing of that level,
“the material of Kamakura” is far to acquisition.
Another Method to Obtain Kamakura-bachi
There is another method to obtain “Kamakura-bachi" if we have firm
eyes of discernment. More than 90% of an existing armor are Tousei-gusoku
or armors of the medievalism made after middle of the Edo period. In these
armors, some of them have a reused kabuto-bachi of old times. However,
it is extremely rare. I'll mention it later. If it is unlike the Akoda-bachi
of the Muromachi era, we need considerable power of observation practically
to distinguish the figure of the Kamakura and the Nanbokuchou era (the
Period of North and South Dynasties) well. When we wonder if it is a bare
bachi of the Nanbokuchou era, (I may think that it is included roughly
as the Kamakura era) it is difficult to recognize.
That’s why; the recognition of the kabuto in the Nanbokuchou era is difficult.
However, there is the feeling cramped that latter generations applu it
to a section one-sidedly in periodization called “the Nanbokuchou”. This
period had only around 50 years. In the first half of the years, the lingering
of the Kamakura era was left heavily, in the latter period, the quickening
of the Muromachi era appeared. In spite of that, the Nanbokuchou era still
occupy a dignified position for a chronological table, because the times
of Emperor-centered historical view prospered was symbolic, and hard times
in particular. However, in fact, it was strange and turbulent times. The
simple Suji kabuto-bachi is hard to deal, and hardly distinguishable. However,
because it is reused to old gusoku unexpectedly, it is pleasant to be found
that state. If you discover it, it is one method to keep kabuto or kabuto-bachi
The Shape of the old Kamakura-bachi
For example, it must be form of “Heian”, not form of “Kamakura”, if it
is the old kabuto of the times of Yoritomo Minamoto. Its-ryu should be
Ichimaibari Uchidashi or Ikaboshi kabuto with a little number of suji.
Naturally, its hole of Hachimanza should be big, and it has the Hoshi on
Koshimaki of making the hole of Hachimanza smaller by putting on some iron
from its reverse. It may be said that the collector who can come across
such a kabuto is the person of happiness blessed with Kabuto’s destiny.
Such a story becomes a dreamlike old tale.
A Relative story -in Substitution for Making a Momentary Break-
When I met the supplier of the acquaintance the other day, he talked about
“When an amateur knows a market of professional purchase price, it is difficult
to do business. Can’t you write it a little more ambiguously?”
I answered “It is good if so influential.”
However, it does not need to think, since I did not write such a precise
price. It is clear if you read it again; “The market” which I wrote is
roughness with the relative variability as if the phrase in itself shows.
It is .good that the manuscript useful as one aim. With these facts in
mind, a professional lecture “however, it is…”, and he must have knowledge
and ability as added value. Professionals in the future must recognize
that research and the study of that purpose are indispensable. There is
not the work elsewhere such a interesting and comfort if you mobe the stock
from the right to the left and can easily make money; of course they know
all such matters. The professionals watch a material with their eyes and
buy. Even if it temporarily looks like an ordinary material generally,
a slightly different figure must appear in their eyes. Then the “material”
should have already become to an unusual one. The person have succeeded
in the field treating an antiques has such an ability to find the special
from the general. Since this is a foundation and a basis, both the professional
and the amateur must work hard to add and remove the price carefully with
standing on the “relative” basis.
The Sequel -Ethnicity for the Antique-
I wrote “relative” subject about value and price in a armor and the kabuto
extremely roughly before. I wonder if posture for an antique art object
like that may be considerably different between Japanese and a foreigner.
I know only the posture in the world of armor, but the foreign lovers including
professionals do not look “articles” so relatively. In other words, they
do not consider the generosity as virtue like that, “Because it is old,
there is no help for some fault. I forgive it.” The compromising beyond
the personal intention means a kind of mental defeat for them.
I quote the dou of Tousei-gusoku as an example. The whole of dou has various
materials such as Kobire, Erimaki, Gattari, Ukedutsu, Machiuke, Gesan,
etc are attached to the dou. Furthermore, it also includes Ukebari and
Chichikan. When some of them have lost, it becomes incomplete. However,
in the case of an old dou, most of them are incomplete. The lack of Ukedutsu
or Machiuke seems to be natural. The Japanese lover accepts lack relatively
easily. However, aside from a person accepting Japanese culture enough,
there are many normal foreigners who complain about the lack. They do not
consent unless parts are completely equipped. They are going to find the
parts from other dou, in order to supplement the lost parts. It seems that
the will to complete products like that from absolute idealism of Europe.
There is “God” in the foreign country solemnly, but the Japanese does not
have existence of this absolute God. It seems that Japanese posture for
The difference of the stance for Confucianism in the old gentleman rank
between Korea and Japan is big. The Korean old gentleman rank believed
in Confucianism absolutely. Japanese are not as faithful to the religion
and the idea as them. It may be a kind of opportunism. The relative postures
of the Japanese are flexibility and reserve. Therefore, Japanese have peculiarity
to deserve consideration as ethnicity. There was big possibility that Japanese
various old vulture fused grew there. It is thought that the intention
to establish distance to the absolute must not be neglected when we think
about old culture (for example, it is a study and a price of Japanese armor)
for the future. Even if it is a narrow matter like something trivial.
On the Other Side of the History Boom
I seem to have picked up a reasonable topic hat is remote from the market
theory of subject. If I say honestly, it is the true intention that I want
to be apart from a common theme such as this report and develop the culture
theory of armor. However, I will star from the common subject. Recently,
probably because of the history boom of the mass communication, young fans
of history have increased. They seem to be called ‘Rekijo’ (women who love
historical person). The characters of military commander of the Age of
Provincial War illustrated for a woman is popular in particular. I do not
know whether it is the result of it, but according to the talk of a certain
acquaintance, it seems that new para-armor made poorly which was named
after the military commander who wore its original is introduced at one
million and hundreds of thousands yen on TV. I cannot say it certain because
I haven’t seen it, but I have watched false armor of inferior quality in
an antique market recently. Therefore, it must be happened.
The serious reconstruction product takes the great labor and time for a
historical investigation and production. Therefore, it is natural not to
be low price. Also, it is precious and valuable work to be left in history.
In spite of that, it is unacceptable fact that a person who doesn’t know
about the armor has bought a badly imitated one sold because of this trend
of learning history. If the matter of the introduction of the television
above is fact, people who treat of collect genuine armor can realize that
the price is quite unworthy just on sight. The buyer should notice before
long whether an amount of money that s/he paid was proper. I hope that
the story of my acquaintance is the misconception of him or they are solid
elaborate fine work. Anyway, because of such a strange situation, I think
that it is necessary to write the fare market and price of the genuine
armor in the present even if the number is relative.
About Kabuto of the Muromachi era
Because I have already described a helmet of the Kamakura era in spite
being summarization extremely, as order, I write the price of the kabuto
of the Muromachi era. Speaking about it, it is “Akodanari suji-kabuto”
that comes into the mind immediately. Akoda kabuto og the Muromachi era
is considerably popular than suji-kabuto of the Period of North and South
Dynasties that is hard to recognize by one sight. People can recognize
that kabuto with relieved because the figure of it is characteristic, clear
and lucid. The collector of old armor aims at first is Akoda kaboto. Also,
the-ryu of Sou-fukurin Igaki Nhoujiro is better. However, as a matter of
course, the kabuto, the whole of parts included Shikoro as they were is
rare. Such a complete article is outside of a market. It is up to the ability
of a seller and the buyer. The prices are different greatly depending on
tactics. Usually, a value tends to be decided to by the side of seller
generally in such a case. Since there are a few numbers of it, if the desire
of the buyer is strong, s/he cannot help obeying to beckoning of the seller.
Generally, we have seen Akoda Soufukuin kabuto-bachi (without Shikoro),
or kabuto whose Shikoro was supplemented later in Edo period.
A decade ago, if was the material from the end of Muromachi era to Momoyama
era, it was a value 3,000,000 yen or more. However, it is likely that a
price fell considerably now. It is necessary to adjust the state by the
fact if it has been repaired or not, its price may fall to 50% than the
It is not a superior collector who seeking for only Soufukurin kabuto in
Akoda kabuto. At first, that way is uneconomical. It is hard for the owner
to trade away Akoda suji-kabuto without Fukurin or Higaki. It can be compared
to a rustic and sober face of a beautiful woman.
There is the grace in the simplicity. Mostly, it is painted in black lacquer,
and the Suji is comparatively rough, buto the Shiten-no-byou smf Hoshi-no-ana
tells us its good lineage. Some tacked are removed and some a hole of some
are buried. Additionally, this kind of kaboto usually has been attatched
a Shikoro of Edo era. There is a nervous person who avoids the smell of
the Edo era, wants only kabuto bachi. However, you had better appreciate
in a state as is without minding it. This kind of Akoda kaboto has width
in a value, but it will be around from one hundred thousand to 1,000,000
The Akoda Kabuto which Has a Signature of Haruta
We should be careful if the kabuto have signature or not. Different from
the tactics of Kamakura era when fighting person was a heavy armed commander
on horse, originally, Akoda-mari Suji-kabuto was new model that was produced
aimed for facility and light weight. It was to keep up with a hand-to-hand
fight of soldiers. However, the number of left articles and products having
the maker’s name inscribed are comparatively few. The famous maker of kabuto
at that time is Mitsusada, but Munetsugu and Mitsunobu are also brand signatures.
Since these products jabing the maker’s name produced in the Muromachi
era. In the case of Soufukurin kabuto-bachi in particular, there is the
tendency to welcome one without the signature since it is pointed at an
older work. However, after all, we should respect the one with a unit signature
because it is precious a data. In the case of a general Akoda kabuto with
the famous name above should add the price around 30-40%.
The Decline of Akoda Kabuto
The Akoda nari Suji kabuto of the school of Hara in Nara which was popular
among military commanders through the first half of the Muromachi era began
to show a tendency of the decline suddenly in the last years of Muromachi
era. The case is a change of the battle-ryu by the overuse of the guns.
Former Akoda kabuto of that school, especially kabuto with Soufukurin Higaki,
had an elegant figure so as to let us think whether this was arms, therefore
it was fragile. As for structure, there is little number of boards of the
iron (there is little number of ‘Ken-lines-‘, a pile is thin, and the iron
stopper of the work is not strong. If the person who learned some karate
swats, s/he can destroy it enough barehanded with one punch. People cannot
stand the gun with this helmet. It is Hoshi-kabuto and Suji-kabuto with
much number of kens made by armor maker who called Myouchin and Saotome
to appear here. When I take up particularly representative form, it is
Suji-kabuto of Hoshi-kabuto of 62 kens. Generally, these kabuto with much
number of ‘Kens’ basically have well forged and solidly piled iron, therefore
they are strong. It does the steady constitution that can be worthy of
the bight of the gun and the sword. It is the appearance of the kabuto
of a new form to be suitable for that time when a war became intense. Of
course, the elaborate kabuto with much numbers of kens like this is he
high-quality article which the senior samurai used, and it was not the
arm which a general person was able to use regularly. I will explain the
kaboto which a general soldier used from the end of the Muromachi era to
the later of the Age of Provincial Wars. At first, I will mention the price
of Suji-kabuto and Hoshi-kaboto with much numbers of kens which were fashionable
in those days.
About Kabuto of 62 Kens
The kabuto with 62 kens is the most general. Of course, I’m not sure if
there is that which ahs more than 62 kens, but the kabuto has 62 kens is
universal as that. I do not mention the historical investigation that why
number of 62 was used a lot on it, but it is the already fact that Hoshi-kabuto
and Suji-kabuto of 62 kens had been produce dofor senior general flouishingly
by armor maker called Myochin and Saotome from the end of the Age of Provincial
Wars to the Edo era.
The main subject comes here at last. Generally, in the case of no signature,
even as for the same number of kens, valuation of Hoshi-kabuto is higher
than Suji-kabuto. This is natural; however, the number of Suji-kabuto of
good state of preservation is more than Hoshi-kabuto unexpectedly. In other
words, Hoshi-kabuto of 62 kens with no signature may have the parts left
of the Age of Provincial Wars. Of course, state of preservation most of
this kind of these is not good. On the basis of these above points, Hoshi-kabuto
of 62 kens with no signature will be 250,000-400,000yen, and Suji-kabuto
of that will be 200,000-350,000 yen.
On the other hand, I’ll pick up the same kind of kabuto with the signature.
At first, it is about the kabuto of Myouchin and Myouchin School. It is
Nobuie’s which is difficult to deal with from old days. About Nobuie, most
ob the detailed things are not excluded. First of all, we need to recognize
from a figure and form, but it is very hard to judge for general lovers.
If a figure is correct, it becomes the stage of the examination of the
signature. However, it will be necessary to judge from the signature, however,
it won’t be easy.
Signature of an Old Kabuto, like Nobuie, Gitsu and so on; Its Price
Directly to say, most of kabuto which has signature or paraph of Nobuie
are imitation. The kabuto of Nobuie which is considered to be genuine for
the present, paraph itself is different from ones which nobles and daimyo
used at that time, and variant. Of course, we may look with the paraph
tat is almost the secret language that smith used it for, but the study
remains stopped at that point. At first, did armor markets know a character?
It may be necessary to think that they asked some Buddhist priests to draft
the character of the paraph based on it like a swordsmith.
By the way, about Nobuie who carved the paraph, has various options has
veen mentioned, for example, there were two persons (first and second generation),
of the existence of another person who cut ‘作 (make)’ after an individual
signature. It looks like an established theory, but it is not sure actually.
It is, untouched world which we don not reach to the way of positive study.
All we have to do is to wait for the appearance of the person who will
develop that study. In the world of sword, for example, it is said that
some of the famous old swords settled as cultural assets has denied their
signature so far. It is easy to understand that the swordsmith of the ‘Koto
(old Japanese sword)’ did not cut a signature same one character and stroke
like the signature of wordsmith of ‘Shinto (after around 1600)’. Since
it is the times when everything is rough, the judgment only by signature
becomes dangerous. It is not good way to judge the signature of Nobuie
and Gitsu who belonged to the old Japanese sword period from their other
signatures on basis strictly. In short, form and product are one of the
important points. In order to understand it, it’s necessary to touch a
lot of signatures, cutting own money and time, and train your eyes. However,
it is not enough only touching a lot of numbers of them. Since it is useless
hardship for the people without the ability to do it, therefore, they should
not do it from beginning. As well as armor, intuition to understand the
key point is necessary for appreciation and judgment of the beauty as the
most important condition even if they cannot explain about it in words.
About the signature of Nobuie and Gitsu, it is important whether the appearance
of the character of the signature full fulfill the conditions as that at
that time. That should have a clear clue that can’t be denied. Apart from
the character of such a signature, I suppose that there is the kabuto of
Nobuie, Gitsu, or Saotome of old time, which can be considered to be genuine.
It is unreliable even if there was the kind of the certificate, I may have
written about it before.
That certificate isn’t always dependable; the judgment depends on the person
or another whose judgment was believed by him/her. Therefore, big Fukikaeshi
of Honkozane or Shikoro of daimyo which has many metal fittings etc are
out of the question. The following will be extremely abstract and relative
description. The kabuto of Nobuie is 700,000-800,000 yen at least. That
of Gitus will be 800,000-900,000 yen at least. The reason why Gitsu kabuto
is evaluated highly than Nobuie is the number of existence of Nobuie. I
discovered some good Hoshi-Kabuto in the past, although it was said that
there’re less Koboshi kabuto. That’s why I think that there are opportunities
of the discovery still more if we enlarge the field of vision nation wide.
The Extremely Low Price
Some Hoshi-kabuto of 62 kens, have around20-30 of small ‘Hoshi (tack)’
is driven in per one Ken (some have more than 30). Each one is a tack to
fasten each thin plate. It seems to take so long time that most of us totally
lose consciousness. Old arms of several hundred years ago which was handled
carefully so much and the kabuto which is the leading actor of the armor
which is a typical tool of samurai must not be generally hundreds thousands
yen. Compared with the price of other antiques, the price of yoroi and
kabuto doesn’t reach to its real value, therefore, they’re popular. However,
strangely, when people (who are not interested in and have no relationship
with armor) really watch a kabuto, they judge it is very expensive or imagine
like that. There is not the risk if they are not interested. If there is
not a risk, they are irresponsible. There is not the problem even if they
do great misunderstanding.
Suji-Kabuto, Hosi-Kabuto etc. Expect 62 Kens
There are items to summarize the kabuto which excludes Myochin and Saotome,
but they have very many sorts. A well known representative maker who made
a particularly elaborate thing with more than 62 kens is Neo Masanobu.
It is common sense that works of Masanobu are Suji-kabuto of more than
100 kens; however, they were made to be shown off technique and exquisite
device after all.
Therefore, as a matter of course, they are weak at practical use. However,
whether a cover is good is not a problem since we do not go to the battlefield
in the present age. The degree of the subtlety in the appearance is the
basis of the evaluation, and this influences the market price immediately.
However, the good work of Masanobu is not cheap since there are few numbers.
However, such a material is not put on “the market” easily. It seems to
be made not for fighting, but for selling. The difference of 1,000,000
yen or 500,000 yen occurs depending on a seller and a buyer immediately.
According to this example, we should judge it after ward by our own. It
seems to be an established rule that the board of the back of kabuto-bachi
of Masanobu is shape of ‘Takewaku (the shape that the center og the curbe
bulged, and both ends became narrower)’, but all is not so. His work has
the common-sense number of ‘kens’ is the same as the putting on a patchof
the product of other armor makers. If there is much number of ‘kens’, they
cannot hit the tack closely. Therefore, in circumstances to hit the tack
by turns, the board becomes the wave pattern. The signature of Masanobu
is slightly large-sized, and the carving is shallow. The force of the character
is weak compared with the signature of Mitsusada Haruta which is more large-sized
and thin as if it has been scratched on. This will be the difference of
Momoyama era and Edo era.
By the way, the modern kabuto having much number of kens and the signature
of Neo has appeared in the public, though the maker has already passed
away quite before. The maker was called Neo whom I had the acquaintance.
Since his name was Neo, it was not an imitation. Of course he was the serious
person and was the last person to make an imitation. Since his works get
old, therefore, there is the person who buys it by mistake that it is old
thing, or there may be the person who sells it as the old. It need to be
careful to deal it. This is how I mentioned above definitely for the maker
who had no malicious.
-Nagasone and Bamen-
It is widely known commonsence of the sword world to be connected to “Kotetsu”
when we refer to “Nagasone”. It has already become the classic common sense
of this world that “Kotetsu” was armor maker formerly. In spite of that,
there are few materials in the armor with the signature of “虎徹 (kotetsu)”
and assured. The ancestors of Kotetsu came from Nagasome village, a large
village of Sawayama (Hikone), and emigrated to Echizen afterwards. Kotetsu
visited Hikone later and made simple arms. However, it was only a kind
of Koduka and the bits of the horses that he made, and he did not make
the kind of the armor not to mention a sword. < my study ‘長曽祢光正具足と虎鉄の彦根駐鎚’
(the armor of Mitsumasa Nagasone and the stationing to Hikone of Kotetsu)
–the 100th of甲冑武具研究 (Kachu-bugu-kenkyu) /May, 1993>. Toshimitsu and
Okihiro are more known as armor makers than Kotetsu. An armor maker of
Nagasone School who is much older than Kotetsu is Mitsumasa Nagasone. Toshimitsu
Nagasone produced the armor of Tadanao Matsudaira. In addition, his native
place would be Echizen as well as Kotetsu since there is the something
unusual kabuto of the turban shell in the Shinto shrine in Matsue where
was the share feudal clan of Matsudaira. Okihiro Nagasone was related to
the armor production of the Kato family of Oozou clan and Minakuchi clan.
Works of Toshimitsu and Okihifo are hardly watched generally. Only an armor
(1622) which Tomimasa Honda used is transmitted to through the work of
Nafasone Mitsumasa. This is the oldest memento hvind the maker’s name inscribed
on the production of Nagasome School for the present. Since Tomimasa Honda
was a senior retainer of the Echizen Matsudairas, it is thought that Mitsumasa
was armor maker of Echizen. Considering in this way, it is supposed that
te Nagasone School was armor maker who acted in Echizen mainly. I have
treated a Kawari (peculiar) kabuto of Toshimitsu Nagasone before. It was
old days for dozens of years, but it was cheaply, unexpectedly, and was
approximately 250,000 yen. It was the times when there were not much foreign
buyers and collectors than now. There are few works of Nagasone School
which have good figure and form so far. I wonder why there are many unrefined
materials said it made by Nagasone, even if it’s clearly fake. We have
to be careful from now on is kabuto of the false signature which used the
name of this school. There was a 馬面 (Bamen) school in the group of same
Echizen which made an armor. It is a characteristic to form the individual
kabuto-bachi whose shoulder is stretched and is not refined to some extent.
Its signature is engraved into a hem of plate every ken and is carved with
aside by one character. They were the forging group who lived a neighborhood
of Naune village in Echizen, Toyama where was the foot of Mt. Haku. It
is said that they emigrated to Maruoka by an order of Honde who was the
senior retainer of the Echizen family, and they came to claim Bamen. It
is said that the reason is the result of Bamen (the mask of the horse)
was very good among the various arms awhich they made by order of Honda
before Osaka war. Since the kabuto has a signature of Bamen School is comparatively
rare, it is popular. If it is the complete 62 kens Hoshi-kabuto having
the maker’s name inscribed, it will be around 1,000,000 yen.
-Iwai (with Sakonji)-
The people who named a group name called Iwai School belonged to the category
that was the oldest as the people who made armor and they produced in each
places. Extremely to say, Iwai School was prevalent so as not to be able
to be distinguished clearly that some Iwai were derived from which Iwai
in Edo era.
Iwai School started from Nanto (Nara) and showed the prosperity. However,
I have never seen the especially attracted work as one piece of article.
The reason can be that Iwai was specialized not in forge, but in sewing
and the constitution of the armor. ‘Forge’ is occupation that strengthens
the base of the armor, and finish to primary artifact. It is called “banco”
in the Echizen eras. Myouchin and Saotome are the representatives of this.
Of course, Iwai would do well in the ability as a hammersmith, however,
it seems to be the work they showed ability mainly is to adjusted primary
products to the whole, and to completed one armor. It is work as so-called
‘Gusoku-ya’ (armor shop). Also, Iwai was good at leather armor. They formed
the whole of armor mainly on leather (skin) without assuming iron, a main
material. This is called ‘Nerikawa-gusoku’. It is said that its well-done
material stood up not only to the sword, but also to the bullet of the
gun. By these relations, a work of Iwai has many materials whose signature
was written with vermilion. Mostly, it is usually Iwai to put a vermilion
signature on Dou of ‘Ashigaku (common soldier) at the repair. This result
is natural since the mainstream of an armor maker who was employed by each
feudal clan was Iwai. As for the genealogy of the Sakonji, technique like
Iwai is indicated formerly. Therefore, it is the sign of the same root
formerly even if it parted at the end. They are long-established maker
of the armor, but there are such a few works staying in the impression.
This will be the result that they handed over the way showing off technology
of the forge to Myouchin and Saotome. Ahead of the peace period of the
Edo era, Myouchin and Saotome who were sharp for the vogue fixed their
eyes on the future when armor and kabuto became the article of the hobby
of the samurai. They trained iron well so as to be useless and gave minute
work and showed off technology of the appearance. On the other hand, Iwai
group kept their-ryu. No, it may be right to say that they took a legitimate
course. The armor is not a show. What important is it possess practical
use and defense power. Of course, this intention of Iwai group was understood
throughout Edo period by the people of each feudal clan. The past prosperity
shows it, however, the iron kabuto, menpo (mask) and dou which shows off
discipline and technique of Iwai weren’t seen in the public now. As I wrote
before, the reason is that Iwai did not have foresight as preparing for
the times when armor becomes the decoration apart from practical use and
is appreciated. In other words, the reason is because they did not have
service mind in response to the demands of coming age. However, this is
not the disgraceful thing for Iwai. The first priority of the production
that I mention here is animal instinct (a progressive sense) to fore see
“the future”. Iwai is existence like the influential figure, of classic
and symbolic existence in the world of armor. Therefore, the family tradition
became conservative and was late from the times naturally. The fact can
be understood clearly looking back from now, but the people in those days
did not understand it. Besides Iwai could live by themselves enough even
if they did nothing. They were able to remain their name on the history
tradition as notable of the production group of the armors.
The result of the history will be inevitable considering such a fate.
It seems that the armor of Iwai and Sakonji group (even if having the maker’s
name inscribed) is not controlled for value greatly besides a work made
in Nara of the Momoyama – Edo first half year. Then, if the kabuto which
is similar to that made by Iwai Yozaemon who formed the famous ‘Shida-gusoku’
worn by Ieyasu Tokugawa is found, how much will it be? In this case, the
maker is outside a frame. I wrote these generations to let you imagine
a price till now. The work of Iwai of the middle of the Edc era is inferior
to famous maker of Myouchin and Saotome. This is big hint. It is not a
market theory only to express value with a number.
Kawari-kabuto (Unusual Helmet), Need to Be Careful
I will finally describe about Kawari-kabuto which is the most popular on
the following. At first, I’ll write about the general part. The reason
why it is popular is not that only Japanese demand it. The reason is foreign
lovers turn to try to collect them. That’s why Kawari-kabuto has been realized
again in Japan by influence of the foreign demand. However, this Kawari-kabuto
is hard to deal with.
For example, there are some doubtful materials which should be considered
to be modern products which became famous by recent exhibition of pictorial
record. Since full-scale study of Kawari-kabuto is not accomplished, there
is no other choice for the person concerned (who has not much time to see
a lot of numbers and strengthen eyes of discernment) to adopt without doubt,
it isn’t resistible. Since the Kawari-kabuto attracts eyes of people entering
the world to the armor at first, it may be said that the popularity in
the present age was planned from old days. I’ll nominate some material
of high possibility of the forgery in turn (rather than a method to distinguish
doubtful thing). The first is the one modeled a fearful god; the second
is that expressed head and the face of the animal, and third is an abstract
object made with joined iron plates. Since, the first and the second isn’t
different from a genuine work at the point that is usually based on old
Zunari-kabuto of Shiinomi-kabuto so much, therefore it is troublesome.
If I write it to here, a sharp reader will think “possibly that is doubtful,
too?” I do not explain it in detail very much, but these kabuto will be
blown off if a person runs on horseback with these. The detailed work aged
so much is impossible to exist. It is at the middle of Edo era that samurai
have begun to forget common sense as a practical armor; therefore, it is
no wonder that a modern human being does not understand it. Will that which
modeled the head of the animal think of itself Zudate (the decoration of
the kabuto)? Since the kabuto which modeled the strange decoration seems
to be the flag decoration which totally follows the child menu of the family
restaurant, it is called, by the proper title, as “child lunch” commonly.
Since such articles were respected by the collectors of the good old days,
it was very expensive until around 1960’s, but how is it now? In the world
of the kabuto led by the foreign collector, because the people who look
from a quite sharp viewpoint (except forged iron) have increased, these
will not be used in the same state like old days. However, there is possibility
that it is already OK enough when it appears in old pictorial record etc,
but it is necessary for the Japanese who study and collect old kabuto to
consider about it again and again. Kawari-kabuto permitted by mind and
sense of samurai age Uege (planted hair), shape of Eboshi, Zukin(hood),
shape of Tokanmuri, and shape of valley (Ichinotani, Ninotani) etc. They
were comparatively normal; therefore it was rare that they use that to
surprise a person like the mask of ogre, it’s necessary to know. Kawari-kabuto
which was made by united iron plate seems to disappear in the genuine article,
but, in fact, it is easy to distinguish it unexpectedly. Since the iron
of the material of the old kabuto is thin and is made lightly, it is safer
to think that the one heavier than it looks is not a genuine. As I wrote
it before, the fake mathecial which regused the bowl of an old kabuto (the
old thing uses this technique for the genuine work), uses an old Shikoro,
and makes the main part the kabuto newly and finishes to be totally old.
Therefore, the greedy person is deceived. Recently, such a technology seemed
to become a high grade and was troubled. It seems that not all of them
are made in Japan; however, my acquaintance says it is easy to distinguish
because the kabuto made in a foreign county are too vivid. The necessary
condition is technical training and patience for time to live in the world
of old arms has many imitations.
The method to omit time effectively that is necessary to make an imitation
will advance steadily in future. Since it is the world that an amount of
money moves, it is a matter of course. However, the technical improvement
of recent imitation production should be concerned. Generally to say, Ichinotani-kabuto
(一之谷兜) and similar product which are easy to make an imitation connect
the material of the board of the same iron on iron Zinari-bachi. Since
lacquer is painted on it, mostly a state is good. Its coating was damaged
and it seemed to have a hard time to be made as an imitation. However,
it is really difficult to distinguish because there is the iron kabuto
with an old work. The genuine article of the ‘Tani-nari’ (like valley form)
usually uses Hinoki (a Japanese cypress) mainly. In spite of that, it is
really difficult to distinguish because there is some of the iron kabuto
with an old work. However, in a kabuto appearing the world recently, I
have not seen genuine Ichinotani-kabuto. The kabuto is the most known in
old Ichinotani is that of silver foil which Nagamasa Kuroda used. All the
lover of armor remembers the figure immediately. The top of the valley
of this kabuto becomes a straight line. There is another form, on the other
hand, is the form whose top is open in right and left like the fin of the
fish, and its center is divided like the tail and fins. The Ichinotani-kabuto
seems to be classified in these two forms. The latter form, is Momoyama
era which is drew the scale of the killer whale was discovered recently.
It may have been done expression called “the killer whale” formerly. As
the pure form of Ichinotani-kabuto, that of Nagamasa Kuroda and an inherited
form to that family should be said to be right lineage.
It can be said as the conclusion that kabuto mentioned above is in only
the suitable place which exists its original Ichinotani-kabuto. You should
realize that it is a modern copy of an imitation which probability more
than 90% if you find it. Remaining a little less than 10%, it is serious
copy of the later times or one of the feudal lords. That is to say, they
are reproduction which worships the history of their ancestor. We must
think this reproduction transmitted in the Daimyo (feudal lord) family
of Edo era to be genuine. You can find this kind as an article for sale
watching carefully. It depends on a case, but will it be around 1,500,000―2,500,000
yen if attached constitution (Shikoro etc) is wonderful? The modern copy
which came and went in business circles well at one time must have been
to 150,000 yen. The center of the demand for these copies is regarded as
a purpose of use that a history lover wears in parade. Thinking about this
point well, those are practical articles. Generally to say, precaution
is necessary for kawari-kabuto.
Representative of Popular Kawari Kabuto –Saika, Okitenugui-
The kawari kabuto, it is Saiga or Okitenugui Kabuto of the relative that
are most popular now. Tetsu-sabi-zi (the surface that iron is rusted) is
considered to be the best of the both. It, the kawari kabuto like this
form, was born between Momoyama and the last years of the Age of Provincial
Wars. However, actually, the kabuto at that time seems not to be left very
much. The kabuto was handed from the first or middle period of Edo era,
besides Shikoro is usually changed. However, this kind of genuine article
is precious even if the whole accessories are not remained as it was. There
are not a few things that the surface is coated with Sabi-urushi-nuri (the
rust lacquer). In fact, the main body of the coated one is more aged. The
first aim of kabuto of Tetsu-sabi-zi was to show the technology of the
forging iron, and practical use was considered to the second aim. Therefore,
it is intelligible and easy to enjoy to amateur eyes. That is why, as a
matter of course, this is higher in value. I’ve heard that there was the
Saika kabuto which fitted into a certain museum at a very high price a
little ago. However, such a material is an exception. Generally, it will
do from 2,000,000 to 2,500,000 yen and more if collector likes the production
from and the state is good. Its price depends of the tack of the fatal
blow and the work of the iron. If there is the processing that added a
lacquer on the surface, it becomes less that half price. Naturally, it
is out of question whether it is good or bad at the time of practical use.
Of course, there are many imitations because it is popular. There is a
professional buyer who showed a desire and failed with a childish imitation.
Therefore, when amateur treat these products, s/he needs careful attention.
It isn’t expectable so much that a wonderful Saika kabuto comes out newly
which is good forged Tetsu-sabi-zi and has good decoration of same iron
at the present time. It is the time when we must handle even remodeling
product enough carefully if it is an old work.
About 面具 –Mengu- (Tool of the Face Part)
Referring to Mengu, it generally points at ‘面頬 (Menpo)’ (a face guard)
attached to the Touseigusoku of Kinsei (recent times). In the wide meaning,
the kind of ‘額当(Hitatiate)’ and ‘半首(Happuri)’ belongs to this category.
However, it has never been seen genuine Happuri for 50 years. Therefore,
I assume they are out of the question.
It is so-called ‘Menpo’, but this is expression which is common name of
modern times. We should surely call it ‘頬当 (Hoate)’. “目の下頬当 (Menoshita-hoate)
is the part of nose. It’s called ‘目の下頬 (Menoshita-ho)’ for short. “半頬当(Han-hoate)”
is a part protecting only the part of cheek and the chin. It’s called ‘半頬
(Hanpo)’ for short. Among “Menoshita-ho”, “烈勢頬 (Ressei-ho)” is the part
without mustache. In addition, many various names are given by the condition
of form and the expression. For example, 笑頬 (Emi-ho; emi means smile),
美女頬 (Bijo-ho; bijo means beautiful women) or 御家頬 (Oie-ho) which was created
by Iwai family. There are many named besides them, but it can be said that
most of those were named after the Edo era begins.
About 半頬 (Hanpo)
Hoate, the cheapest product is Hanpo which does not have nose. Generally
to say, this is because an appreciation degree is low in comparison with
Menoshita-ho. However, most of Hoate which belongs to the armor of the
times of the practical use is this Hanpo. When I say, based on the experience
of a simulation war that I wore a genuine armor and tapped each other by
a bamboo sword, as for Hanpo, face becomes too much vacand and uneasy.
Compared with it, I feel secure when using Menoshita-ho because it has
many areas to protect. However, this makes the view of a person wearing
it narrow, so we cannot move freely at fighting. Hanpo is much more active
in the point. Using Hanpo, we are more active. First of all, breathing
and speaking become easier. Most of the tool of the face part of the armor
of the daimyo family who had an experience of fighting by in the Age of
Provincial Wars is Hanpo. For example, the Iis of the Hosokawas are like
that. If I examine it carefully, there will be several families who used
it. The samurai with the knowledge used Hanpo. However, as mentioned before,
even if the same kind of the lacquer ware, the price will be up to 50,000
yen except to Hanpo of Kaga Maeda and Higo Hosokawa of the special iron
work even if it is of good workmanship. These of which chin is emphasized
strangely and let it protrude ahead or of sunken cheek are show-off skill
of workman. They were looked down on by old samurais who were severe about
the martial arts. However, if it is good iron of such form, it is much
more expensive than common Menoshita-ho even if it is Hanpo at present.
They are traded with 250,000-300,000 yen even among professionals. The
one that right and left of the nasal region are cut perpendicularly, the
depth is deep and the base is a thing from last years of Muromachi to the
Age of Provincial Wars, it is special even if it is lacquer ware. It needs
attention because some of them that lost a nose and the nail of right and
left of the installation are hidden well, and pretended to be it as if
“it is old half cheeks” from the first. I write it down incidentally, the
essential points of basic attention are if the Menpo has ‘Tare (the throat
guard hanging from Menpo)’ or not, and its ear is missing or not. There
are many materials which do not clear two points unexpectedly.
There are two kinds of Menpo that are standard and there are the most numbers
in so-called Menoshita-ho with nose, one is the shiny lacquered and the
other has Sabi-urushi coat. As for a price, that with Sabi-urushi coat
is good for practical use, but that is less popular than that with lacquer.
The Menoshita-ho of Sabi-urushi coat is 80,000-100,000 yen or some more,
and that of black lacquer is more than 100,000 yen. In brief, it depends
on condition. When this becomes the vermilion lacquer was called “armor
of Kintoki (boiled adzuki beans)” and was looked down on about 40 years
ago. However, the time has changed. I heard that Hoate of ‘Garua (so-called
crow long-nosed goblin)’ painted in red moved with nearly 1 million yen
recently. This may be more expensive than Garua-men of iron Sabi-zi. This
will be because it is painted in red. Tengu-men (the mask of long-nosed
goblin) painted in red may have close price. These are special cases.
On the other hand, Menoshita-ho of iron Sabi-zi has the highest popularity
for a part of the armor, and product area is also wide. As a matter of
course, there is a big difference in a price by a quality of works. As
for the Menoshita-ho of iron Sabi-zi, the lower limit is around 170,000-180,000
yen. Some menpo are more than 500,000 yen if they are old and elaborate.
Menoshita-ho of iron Sabi-zi with design of file or with metal fittings
appeared from the Middle of Edo era. Most of them which have a hit iron
tool, and made with the design of file are made in Kaga. This kind is a
super popular item now.
About the Hoate Made of ‘Nerikawa (Kneaded Leather)’
I’ve treated the schematic price of Hoate until now, but, as for the materials,
iron is a standard. However, a material made of Nerikawa (kneaded leather)
occupies a considerable percentage in the gross weight of Hoate. When it
is said that was bade by leather, most people who are concerned with arms
are discouraged. “A product of leather …”
Truly you must not make light of kabuto and dou made of leather. It needs
trouvle for making, and the solid work of leather is stronger than iron
old work practically. The armor of thin iron hardly helps the actual fighting.
It is only psychological effect. In these days, there is not the laudable
parson who studies the real effect of old armor seriously. Therefore it
is not so great exaggeration even if I say that only market price is pursued.
In the Hoate of leather, there are a lot of ones of a very elaborate and
rich expression. It may be said that it is already a masterpiece since
that was not transformed after for 100 years or 200 years. Foreign collectors
had thier eyes on the collection of Hoate. They tend to like particularly
iron heteromorphic things. It is sad that the Japanese of the originator
follows it, and makes light of a product made of leather. It is necessary
for Japanese to realize responsibility and judgment again. That’s why it
is these I mentioned above, let's decide not to touch it about the price
of Hoate of leather. It will be a kind of gauche to say the speculation
of the low price.
The Price of Hoate out of Control
When I divide an armor particularly 当世具足(Tousei-gusoku) into each part,
of course, the price of kabuto is out of control naturally, and that of
the Hoate gets out of control magnificently, too. For example, when armor
is for sale, price of it goes up if the attached Hoate is of good workmanship.
In other words, it becomes the evidence that it emphasizes and urges the
independency of the Hoate. However, the set of the armor is considerably
big. It is unsuitable for the situation of a modern average house. The
purchasing of kabuto and Hoate increases naturally. The Hoate is superior
in easy interior decoration in particular. Therefore, collectors paid attention
to this point from early time. In Hoate, the superior article of the Kaga
Hoate which performed nailing of decoration metal fittings is more expensive
than the armor of low level. The article of the having the maker's name
inscribed of the Unkai group including Mitsuhisa is respected in particular.
It will not have any problem to regard the standard price of excellent
work of the Kaga Hoate with Mithshisa's signature as 1 million yen. The
most of these seem to be attracted somehow or other by the foreign country.
Therefore these will be seen only in the hand of some collectors before
long in Japan certainly. As the example that Hoate becomes independent,
I picked up the example Mitsuhisa of Kaga.
It is so-called "総面(Somen)" to have to make another head as independency
of Hoate. The person of this field calls "somen", but this is
the name that a common name immobilized. It seems to be called "Menpo"
formally. However, the name of "Somen" seems to express the situation
of the material precisely. It may be said that this is a representative
example in the name of the part of the armor that a common name got citizenship.
However, there is not the commentary book of the armor in modern times
that teaches what the original purpose of use of "Somen" was
as far as I know it. Most of old Somen were named after the middle of Edo
era. It was originally attached as the part on decorative armor of the
daimyo. The brocade cloth sewed on Somen is called "Kashiratsutsumi".
Nobody will think that man put on such a large mask under the kabuto and
face at fighting. In brief, it was trend of Edo period that loved beauty,
and it was not very different from an ornament of a seasonal festival.
The Somen which is old as an existence product of Somen is a thing from
last years of Muromachi to the Age of Provincial Wars. It is not unreasonable
to think that a samurai of unusual tastes really used it at that time.
There is a famous Somen that is said its owner was "Masatoyo Naito",
but it is unknown where there is it. The main purpose was not to clarify
the looks even if it was said that he used it. Kenshin Uesugi seemed to
use the mask of the masked dance in a battlefield. This was used for the
direction of the strangeness and not to inform his features. The use was
outside of the imagination.
There is the record that when the well-known military commander who became
the lord of a castle after the Battle of Sekigahara did his rounds with
several subordinates on the occasion of construction of a castle, he wore
Somen. The main use of Somen was almost like this. Considering from the
point, the old name of "面包(surround the face)" will be reasonable.
I cannot but become negative whether "Somen" was the mask of
practical protective gear of the actual fighting for such a reason. The
field of vision is considerably small when attach a mask.It is what all
the people who did kendo experience. Because an opponent is forward one
in the game of the current kendo, we should concentrate the principal objective
on him. However, it is not so in the battlefield. The enemy attack from
behind not to mention from right and left. The field of vision of Somen
is much smaller and stuffy than an aspect tool of the kendo. The protective
gear for the face which was composed aspect iron of the kendo with Hachigane
was not used even in the actual fighting period of the late Tokugawa period.
I have looked one or two exceptionally, but they were the idea of the dilettante,
and were not made for universally practical use. It is first that the field
of vision is clear and movement is nimble in the actual fighting. There
is no need to dwell on that "Somen" was not quality of the practical
use. We may think that those symbols of the escape from the tension of
the bloodthirsty arms, and the outcome of the heart that was going to find
play in an armor and kabuto, became the figure of "Somen".
The Price of Somen
However, the price of Somen is outside a problem even if it is the part
of show and display or it is not the part of practical use in the constitution
of the armor. The present price of arms hardly reflects the utility. This
can say for the whole of the antique art object. Since the similar material
is remarkable in the swords which are the relative of the armor, it will
be outdated to think such a thing now.
By the way, it is the price of "Somen". Recently I do not watch
very much the things of the old times made elaborately. Most of the superior
articles might cross the sea. Most of good things are the things from middle
to last years of the Edo era. The mask whose quality of iron is good, cloth
of the brocade is left, and the large-sized 'Tare' of Honkozane is fully
equipped with these can be more than 1 million yen at least. Also, rating
of its price depends on the tactics between a seller and a buyer. The price
here is a rough price including the rumors. There are much earnest people
who think a number to be absolute in the world. Therefore I wrote about
it just to make sure.
All is not the matter of experience and before eyes. The reason why it
is more expensive than document-like value or original artistic value is
that an attention degree of the foreign collector is high.
Imitation of Somen
By the way, this "Somen" is tricky very much. Childish imitation
is out of the question. There is one attached the forehead to Menoshita-ho
made in Edo period. It surely exists, it is quite rare though. In the case
that the under eyes and the forehead are made from both testu-sabidi(iron
rust), the important point is that there is a slight difference between
the two in quality of iron. If the lacquered color of the back includes
an antique look and the same color, it can be called “Somen”, even if the
part was put on later.
However, specifically to say, it is so-called the imitation. Most of “Somen”
on the market are kind of this and justified as genuine which the whole
parts were made at the same time. It is said that some of them are treated
in higher price than their actual value, about 300,000-400,000 yen.
On the other hand, there is the “Somen” made these days turned to be the
old work. There was a person from Okayama who was good at making “Somen”
and passed away many years ago. However, he didn’t mean to make its imitation
at all. He just trained his technique of iron beating and got to make “Somen”.
He also made his original signature to show his own work.
I’ll refer to that again, just in case; he wasn’t imitation maker of that.
It is the same with painting, starting from reproducing other works. However,
the filed of making “Somen” is too huge to start from learning through
materials like photo. He finally created the closest one to the genuine
and became the most superior technician of iron beating in this century.
It seems that his works are misjudged as the old, and mingled with them
nothing to do with his will since he was good at putting on rust. It’s
not his responsibility but some people who evaluate it.
Once this kind of artwork appeared in the market as the old genuine, it
would be the imitation. The maker of this may complain about it behind
people. If his own work is recognized as the real old work, will he accept
it silently even if it is misrecognition? He’ll have a mixed feeling since
its price rises with the recognized value. Last year, I saw the work with
his signature as the proof of his work under the chin of the mask. The
signature was purposefully removed to be recognized as the old work. It
is pity that the work of the superior “Somen artist” (There aren’t words
like this.) without his intention to make the imitation is regarded as
the imitation, after all.
Also, small and highly evaluated items like this artwork was nothing but
the imitations made by skillful artists and like the genuine. It means
real imitation artist will appear sooner or later.
About Issakumono (the Whole Set of Armor; from Kabuto to Suneate)
The suit of armor, especially among the modern one, a complete set from
head to feet is considered highly valuable. However, there are some troublesome
conditions for the complete set of armor. The whole tints of Odoshiito
should fit with those of other plaited threads like Mimiito and Uname.
Even the aged color of Hishinui should be the same as the whole tints of
Odoshiito. The textile and patterns of Ieji should be the same. In addition
to that, the coating color of Saneita (the composed part of the armor)
should be same and unified.
It will be very troublesome if you obey these conditions solely dogmatically.
In spite of that, the beginners in the field of armor take these qualifications
of Issakumono on trust and respect them faithfully. It is just like Christians
revere the Bible and disciples of Confucian do the Analects of Confucius.
Of course, the Issakumono is important. However, it will be a big mistake
if someone just follows these beliefs. In any case such person never understands
It’s the custom of the long time ago. At that time, if the Kote cloth was
damaged, people rarely replaced the whole cloths including undamaged Haidate
and Suneate to new one because they thought as . It is a present common
sense to replace the whole parts of that. Once upon a time, they just tried
to maintain as it was with repairing parts should be. Naturally, it not
only meant to thrift, but also respect to their ancestor and the deceased
mainly. It is the spirit of warrior to respect the left of ancestors with
their vestige. Therefore, there are many sets of Issakumono that have different
cloth from other of that set.
In addition to that, there is another condition to consider; the constitution
of Sane, the main part of the armor. The Shikoro of the kabuto should be
Honkosane naturally if its dou and sode are that. It isn’t admitted if
Shikoro is only Itamono of Kebiki. That means against the conditions and
doubtable. It’s a kind of general opinion, in other words, the catche that
the person having Issaku principle fails to consider the constitution of
sane should be same with the dou and sode. The armor whose upper part and
lower one is different exists from very old time. Especially, there is
not less Shikoro of Itamono since it isn’t tolerable with extremely carving.
In short, the high ability of recognition is necessary to judge if it is
Issaku or not. Because of that, the recognizing person tends not to judge
the doubtful it as not the genuine. Since the people believing themselves
as a special connoisseur also has the same tendency very much, it may be
difficult to persuade the general to judge it thoroughly. If you try to
see the essence of the thing without judging it as Awasemono soon, and
you van find the secret main stream through the difficulty to see that
is common among any art in front of you.
The Unified Gusoku of the Loyal Family
In the category of Tousei gusoku, there is the unique one shouldn’t be
forgotten. It is the “Oie-ryu” in other words the gusoku of the clan originally
own. It is a kind of uniform armor which recognize in one sight where the
clam and family the person wearing it. The famous are “Hikone-Gusoku” and
“Kaga-Gusoku”, the former is “Akazonae (the red armor)”, and the latter
has the unique-ryu of consistent of the whole of that on their own. Also,
there are “Sendai-Gusoku” and “Ettchu-ryu-Gusoku” in Kumamoto and so on.
In addition to that, that of the Saga-Nabeshima clam is similar to Sendais,
that of Echu-ryu is generalized at other clams because of each preface
included the Kumamoto Hosokawa clan. However, it seems to include the gusoku
of Sendai and Kumamoto into the main sorts of gusoku has their locally
own-ryu of that.
One of them, the Kaga-Gusoku is remarkable in these days. It is the exotic
armor having Akoda-ryu kabuto and the decoration of Karakawa-dutumi, Ginrou-Nagashi,
and Kiritetsu-Zaiku under its dou.
The easy and huge figure of Akoda-ryu kabuto reminds us the very descendant
of of the Nanto-Kasugas which had the generousty with 1 million goku. This
sort of Kaga-gusoku will be more than 1-2 million yen if it has consistent
of well forged iron with Yasuri-me as main material and Kawari-kabuto of
the same consistent.
It seems to be because of buyer’s preference, according to the news from
an influential trader of arms. It’s not only Japanese preference, the home
of the arms. The “Somen” referred before was lowere at the time of the
bubble economy than that at present.
It’s Aka (red)-Gusoku of the Iis having increased its price as this kind
of the loyal gusoku exceptoto Kaga’s.
It can be funny to refer to the fact of re than 50 years ago. At that time,
that red gusoku was called “Kintoki (the color of azuki beans) Yoroi (armor)”
and avoided. It was due to the crassic thought that armor should be black,
after all. Naturally, the red armor is outstanding, loud, and grand. If
a general samurai wears such a showy costume, he is shapeless except to
a strong and brave one. They are good examples of the misery such as the
armor of Tenchuu-gumi and that of the army of Tokugawa Shogunate at the
end of Edo era. Especially the latter was defeated by Kihei-tai. The bad
reputation image made the long time and conservative collectors avoid them.
However, it’s different so far. The Aka-gusoku of Ii is certainly twice
as high as that of black. Due to the understanding and longing to Akazomae
and the smaller number of existence than the general black one, its price
jumped radically. These factors seem to make the shooting up.
The next explanation is about Sendai Gusoku. This gusoku is consisted just
the connected iron plates with hinges, therefore it isn’t popular so much
except to other kinds like the representative “Kurourushi-nuri-Tetsu-Gomaidou-Gusoku”
Masamune Date used.
Sendai-dou-gusoku seems to be stored easily, but it isn’t so at all. Since
it’s connected with iron plates, it doesn’t contract. The plates clatter,
the person wearing it can pinch his/hers finger in the connection without
notice. Every Yoroi lover must have that bitter experience. Not only the
finger, most of the gusoku are so heavy that it make one’s shoulder and
back stiff. It is natural that the number of the expensive Sendai-gusoku
is limited. In brief, the gusoku has a decoration of handwork like Zougan
(inlay) and Uchidashi (embossed work). It’s the same with the Katchu of
the Saga clan; most of them are Tetsu-Gomaidou style. It will be remarkably
different from the general “Sendai Gusoku” if it has decoration such as
Uchidashi of Karashishi-Botan and Un-Ryu colored Zougan and so on. Of course,
this gusoku has been ingluenced by Europe culture.
Seeing these arms, the Etchu-ryu gusoku of the Hosokawa clan is late for
the competition of the price in the gusoku of the loyal families having
the unified-ryu as the condition. Until now, the fact that the price is
nothing to do with the practical use has been mentioned many times on this
article, this Etchu-gusoku is a good basic example of that. It is said
that its-ryu was owned by the Kumamoto-Hosokawa clam especially and founded
by Sannsai Hosokawa Etchumori Tadakoshi. They’re the less existence as
the Etchu-Gusoku and Sansai-ryu Gusoku. However, the style of this gusoku
was adopted at the position of Shousikkan since the age of Tadakosi formally.
Many of this Etchu-gusoku has the fully personal preference of standing
equipment. Its Zudate, Wakidate and Ushirodate are unique enough to enjoy
seeing. Many of these Iyosane that are usually made with leather, are done
with classic Maru-dou-ryu. Most of their Hoate are Hanpo and well tasteful.
Etchu-gusoku is one of the most valuable things to be evaluated again.
Hereinbefore, I’ve written the outline of Japanese armor of the characteristics,
the peculiar and the price. Its grounds are the tendency of distribution
in the arms market and rumors in these days added with my knowledge and
experience, therefore the way of the understanding of this field surely
seems not to be failed. Since it’s the statement of common factors in origin,
there is nothing but to write about price relatively. It would be appreciated
it will be the help more or less for the lover of arms and the people who
begin to study and collect armors. Probably, I should have written about
the arms included Katchu, however, if I did so, the manuscript will be
too much detailed, that’s why I’ll do it at other opportunities. I’ll finish
this manuscript here. (End)
(A person in charge who is inexperienced in English writes it. Therefore
there may be mistakes and the sentences that are not right.)