Most collectors of original Japanese samurai armor do not have room to buy many sets and tend then to focalize on smaller parts, like kabuto (Japanese helmet) and menpo (samurai mask). The main reason for this choice is that these two parts are those made by the important Japanese armor makers as they were the most difficult to build. More, they look very good also just by themselves, while some other parts, like kote or suneate, are quite difficult to enjoy. For this reasons, the price of a kabuto or of a menpo tend to be quite high and the price for a full samurai armor might be just slightly more than the separate prices of these two parts!
If you decide to buy a Japanese kabuto or a menpo, you should consider many aspects. The most important is the quality of the workmanship. Many collectors generally start to buy kawari kabuto (extraordinary Japanese helmets) as they are of very strong impact and they are quite enjoyable, while regular kabuto like ko-boshi kabuto, akoda-nari kabuto, and suji-bachi kabuto might look all identical. However, when your knowledge expands, you might start to understand the difficulty in building such kind of kabuto and menpo and then to appreciate the extremely high quality of some of these Japanese armor’s elements.
The price range you would like to invest is, of course, an important matter. My first advice is: try to get the best for your budget. If you have a budget of 4,000€, do not insist in wanting to buy a kabuto for that price because you will end up with a modest one, while for the same price you can certainly buy a menpo (Japanese armor’s mask) which might very well be of good quality.
A second advice is: if you are not knowledgeable, trust somebody. He can be a dealer, a friend collector, a museum person. It’s full of dangers in this field and you don’t want to buy something you will regret: recent imitations, fake signatures, alterations that make a kabuto or a menpo look better, and so on. Please note that auctions can be very difficult to handle, as they have often to write on the catalog what the seller wants them to write. You have been warned.
If you want to buy a kabuto or a menpo please contact us for any kind of advice. We can certainly help you if making your best decision.