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News & New Item Listings for April! View all news

I have to apologize once again for being behind on things, but the seems to be the SOP for me these days. Multiple projects and things to do have kept me away from updating the HP again unfortunately, but not from finding some great new items to offer! See below to find out what we have for you this month.
 
So what have I been up to you might be asking yourselves. Well...working on our first documentary film project, which is progressing nicely, with everything on track for release this summer. I'm actually off this week to Honshu for a VIP/selected guest screening of the documentary for some of the key personalities in Soma, including the present day tono-sama, Soma Michitane, the 33rd daimyou of Soma. The film will be going out to  several major broadcasting companies, and thus will eventually be available for viewing on public and pay channel services, like History Channel, Discovery and others, so you will be able to sit down and watch on your TV, but for those who simply can't wait for a public broadcast, we will have DVD copies for sale by late July. This superb production is going to be only the first in a series of excellent documentaries on the samurai, and ones any enthusiast of the samurai culture will not want to miss! I will of course keep you posted as things progress.
 
So with the work on the documentary having taken up a lot of my time last month and the first week of April, new listings have been delayed, which I know will irritate many of you who are impatiently waiting to see what's next. Well the wait will be worth it. April will have the first of three of five jyuyo bunka shiro NKBKHK graded armour items coming up for sale, including two very fine gusoku and one extremely rare kabuto by Norikuni. The helmet is one of only two such known authentic examples in the world of a true double shikoro helmet of the Muromachi period as was worn by samurai of the Iyesugi clan
 
We also have another outstanding though no-documented armour with a wonderful kabuto from the Muromachi period with a kasa jikoro. The dou is an extremely rare hybrid dou-maru dou with detachable waidate flank plate in the style of an o-yoroi. This is the only such example of this form of dou construction I have personally ever seen anywhere. But that is not the best part of the armour, which I'm keeping as a surprise. This superb gusoku is sure to impress all once we get all of the images of it up on the site later this month.
 
Also we will be listing the Iwai armour I mentioned in a previous news update. this very unique armour has just been featured in three page spread in the renowned Aito magazine as I had promised. This set is one of the few authentic Iwai school full gusoku known to exist with signatures. The armour will shortly be returned to me and will then be rushed into the photo studio and made ready for sale. Some images of the article are posted here. 
 
The jyuyo token tachi, tanto and naginata items I mentioned previously are now scheduled to be released from the Tokyo National Museum by the owner, with the exception of the naginata which is being held over for a scheduled display later this years when it will be withdrawn and sold. The tachi is signed "Tomonari Saku", making it a famous piece from the 1300's. The Tanto is by Norishige, and the Naginata signed "Bizen Osafune ju Motoshige".
 
There will of course be a number of new sonohoka items included a gorgeous jinbaori, some fine menpo, a number of new kabuto to be listed as well.   
 
But the jewel in the crown for our April offerings and possibly this year, will be the outstanding and famous armour of the 6th Tokugawa's ryojyu, Yanasigawa. This incredibly armour is prominently featured in Dr. Sasama's authoritative three volume set, Famous Helmets of Japan, and features the only authentic example of a Nambokuchou period helmet with battle damage on the helmet from a tachi cut. The armour itself was one of the most famous sets of armour in Japan during the mid-Edo period. The set has featured in a number of renowned exhibitions across Japan over the last 3 decades. Images of the absolutely outstanding armour will be posted as soon as we can have them prepared.
 
And for those who have asked. If it is marked on hold, it really means sold at this point. Just have not got time to update things at the moment.
 
And finally, for those who have wondered about the more restricted and perhaps even defensive nature of Toraba since we launched our new homepage, and wondered if this is necessary  I would like to bring to your attention that late last week our site was the target of a sophisticated hacking attack. It was stopped blocked and defences tightened up even more. Some customers I know witnessed this, so I'm not just making up stories here. The attack appears to have come out of China and I can only assume was launched by those who were involved in the Black Samurai scam site. I believe this really goes to show what we have to put up with. For the average customer, Toraba is a place for you to come, chat, surf and enjoy and so it should be, this is what we want. So we bear a responsibility to make it as such for our customers. So it is something we need to watch over, secure and protect in order to keep you safe. The scams that are being conducted these days by people trying to make easy money of selling fictional or bogus pieces of samurai armour are becoming ever more complex and as such difficult for the average collector to detect. If people are going out of there way to attempt to break into Toraba, which they did not succeed in by the way, it shows you that they are willing to put some effort into their scams. Scams which clearly they succeed at pulling enough times out of ten to justify further efforts. Our efforts to make Toraba a safer place have denied them access to materials that could be used to rip people off, as has happened with countless images and information from competitors sites. By keeping hem away from our material we can help you they buyer, whether it is from us or elsewhere, by limiting the number of potential scams. 
 
And while taking about scams. Be warned. I was recently offered to by two kawari items. One was a kawari kabuto with large bat-like circular ears affixed to a black zunari bachi. The ears are modern additions, though rather well done. Don't be deceived. The second item was a gusoku featuring a namban kabuto with a rare and highly desirable kata-nugi abara-dou as appears on page 97 of the Sengoku Katchu Shu II text and the more widely known example that is displayed in the Tokyo national Museum. The armour is a composite, but the real problem is the dou is a fake. It has been re-build, and not all that well to appear to be a abara-dou. The lames though are most likely bake-lite. The scales along the edges of the contours of the exposed chest are simply clipped to fit, and naked chest plate too appears to be moulded. Note that crests have been added to the armour to make the actually unmatched parts appear matched to those who don't know better. Both of these items were offered to me at high prices, which originals would fetch. When I rejected them, and this is a few weeks back and more now, the price was dropped, and dropped again to entice me to buy. I did not. I later received a phone call saying they had sold and asking me not to comment on where they came from. So that I won't do, but I will say the items are fakes and people should be on the look out for them, as these pieces are exactly the type of item that is almost immediately targeted towards foreigner buyers, dealers and collectors a like.

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