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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 pattern.
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 the future
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 armor.
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 unpleasant ones.
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 occurrence.
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 parts.
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.

About Kabuto

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 people.

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 only.

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 this article.
“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 Confucianism.
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 above.
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 yen.

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

-Masanobu Neo-

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.

About Somen

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 the “armor”.
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.)