Shopping for antiques in Japan!

Old Aug 8th, 2011, 08:47 AM
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Shopping for antiques in Japan!

I will be in Japan this November. I have another current posting with miscellaneous questions. My wife and I both enjoy shopping and purchasing antiques. I have looked in Frommers but cannot find much information on the best antique shops. Frommers mentioned the Antique Mall Ginza and Toji Temple flea market in Kyoto on November 21st. We will be in Kyoto on that date. We will also be in Hakone.

Have an interest in antique armor, swords, armor dolls, perhaps old clothing. Am very concerned about reproductions being sold as originals.

Do you have any recommendations for good dealers in Tokyo, Hakone or Kyoto?

Is eBay cheaper than trying to buy in Japan? (I once shopped for watches in Switzerland but was cheaper in USA).

Any suggestions on other unusual antique items that the shopping is much better in Japan.

Do the stores, malls and flea markets expect to negotiate?

Any personal experiences at the Antique Mall Ginza or Toji Temple flea market?

Philip is offline  
Old Aug 8th, 2011, 10:39 AM
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Traditional Japanese prints and scrolls would be good buys. In Kyoto, check out the shops in Teramachi-dori, and the crafts stores in the main drag in Gion.

If you want to get serious about it, I'd recommend picking up a copy of Diane Durston's <i>Old Kyoto: The Updated Guide to Traditional Shops, Restaurants, and Inns</i>. I was happily surprised to find that it's still available and apparently in print. (This is the same Diane Durston's whose <i>Seven Paths to The Heart of The City</i> is easily my choice of first-timer's guide books to Kyoto.

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Old Aug 8th, 2011, 11:52 PM
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In 2008 whilst in Kyoto I bought a sword from Kuraya Hashmoto a specialist shop right next to Nijo Castle the website is:

It was a small shop but they had a pretty good range of reproduction alloy and genuine steel swords all of the highest quality as well some antiques swords.

Unfortunately, when I called my father in the UK telling him that he should expect a sword in the post (we were on a year long trip) he informed me that it had been on the TV news that evening that a law banning ownership or importation of samurai swords had been introduced. (transgression punishable with 5years prison and /or a 5000 fine!) Not wishing to see my father in law in gaol I cancelled the purchase.

The swords at this place were works of art and the owner was very open and honest about which were alloy repro/antique or steel.
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 10:00 AM
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We have bought antique items in Japan over the past 20 years, though not weapons or armour. We've been to Kobosan at Toji Temple several times, and haven't found it to be a great source. You'd do better, I think, browsing small shops, as we did for fans, wooden chests, pottery and china, and old obi, haori, and kimono. The buys are certainly better in Japan than abroad for such items.
To get informed about Japanese antiques, check Daruma Magazine (see, or Alistair Seton's book (through the same website).
Negotiation isn't done on the same basis in Japan as elsewhere in SE Asia. But a friendly non-confrontational relationship with the dealer often yields an unexpected reduction, especially if you are purchasing a number of items together. You can always ask gently whether the price asked is the lowest one acceptable. Keep it unaggressive above all.
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