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Thread: Moderate niku in the $500-600+ range... Munetoshi?

  1. #1

    Moderate niku in the $500-600+ range... Munetoshi?

    Hi all,

    Ok so Im looking for moderate niku in this price range. Here are my requirements: MUST be F/F... no bohi. I love the look of folded and esthetics to me are at LEAST if not more important than performance. I almost certainly wont be cutting heavier targets but the knowledge that the sword is capable of such a thing in a pinch is important to me. There may be zombies out there heheh.

    Travis Nicko stated about the PC Bushido:
    It does have some niku, but also tapers quite a bit and is not all that thick...I feel that the Hanwei Tsunami would be a better choice for hard targets and you won't have to ruin the nice hada of your Bushido. But I'm done de-railing...
    So the well-reviewed and beloved PC Bushido is maybe one possibility, and is certainly attractive steel (thx Travis).

    I have lovings for the DF tri/steel Bushi's because they are also well reviewed, but definitely have scant niku. FYI, DF does not take custom orders for more niku.

    One of the only others seems to be the Munetoshi line at SwordNarmory, folded T-10 in both Maru and Kobuse lamination. They state that they have moderate niku suitible for heavier cutting. The polish on these look poor but that is fixable I suppose. So here are my main 2 questions:

    -Is Kobuse lamination in the $500 range a good idea, performance and quality wise? Or would Maru be a safer bet?

    -Does anyone have experience with Munetoshi's high-end stuff? Is the blade itself good quality? How good (skilled) is the heat treatment? What is your opinion of the polish? Now, I dont care about fit and finish of the furniture at all, Im for having it customized.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    I wouldn't risk with munetoshi (or any other similar company) at this price range. Badly folded blades are actualy weaker than maru (monosteel) ones. And you always get what you pay for.

    A well known company might be the best choice for a production folded blade. DF and Hanwei are the only "safe" options at the price range IMHO.

    For cutting a the best option is a monosteel blade
    Daring beyond power, risking against prudent advice and optimists in danger...
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  3. #3
    I agree with John that reputable companies are a safer choice for cutting swords.

    The bushido has some niku and it's so agile that I 'd use it for tameshigiri without hesitation. It is very good at light and medium targets (that I have read, as I do not cut myself) and capable of heavy as well. The XL range would be a nice choice although a bit more cumbersome...

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    I strongly disagree with the two posters above. Munetoshi is a reputable company. It is a brick-and-mortar company in South California and they have good customer service as well as good return policy. I just bought the Munetoshi Enkai.

    In my opinion, it is better made than comparable Hanwei swords of the same price range. My Enkai has subtantial niku. I have both the Hanwei Bushido as well, and the Bushido has scant niku compare to the Enkai. The Bushido also has an axe handle tsuka. The Enkai has a well-shaped tsuka.

    I also have the Hanwei Tea Culture and Tori. The Enkai is comparable to the Tori in workmanship but is far better than the Tea Culture. My Tea Culture rattle in the saya.

    Munetoshi is of comparable to DF Bushi tri-steel, except with much more niku. The only thing DF has that is better than Munetoshi is the quality of the ito. DF has silk ito and Munetoshi has synthentic ito.

    I will say that if you want a blade in the $300-500 with substantial niku, I would recommend any of the Yama Line of the Munetoshi.

  5. #5
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    It is nice that you are satisfied with your Munetoshi. However, it is a fact that although sword N armoury is a reputable company, the munetoshi line is made in China (like most production katana anyway) by an unknown forge. In time they might establish a reputation. Consistently serving customers like you will establish them a reputation in time. The comparison with DF is interesting though and I conclude you were very pleased with your purchase.

    I would be pleased to read a review of the munetoshi with many pics. It will be the first unbiased published.

    And the bushido has niku. It is not a designated heavy cutter, but can handle all targets if someone wants to cut with a folded blade.
    Daring beyond power, risking against prudent advice and optimists in danger...
    Thucydides

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    Yes, I am planning to do a review of the Enkai. Christmas Shopping is consumed all my time. Personally, I think the folding is unneccessary and add to unneccessary cost. I was looking for a medium niku of that price range and of specific nagasa length. And the only one available was Munetoshi Enkai. There was no review of the sword, so I took a chance and bought it. I am happy with the outcomme. The blade is very balanced despite medium niku.

    I had DF before and enjoy the aethestic of DF but their Bushi Line has scant niku. Even the Hanwei Bushido has less niku than the Enkai. In fact none of the Hanwei I own is comparable in term of niku.

    I think if there is no mention of niku, then the safe assumption is that there is no niku or little niku.

    I think in term of aethestic, DF is still ahead of Munetoshi. Tri-steel has nicer hada, slightly better polished, and the finish on the fitting is better. But DF Bushi tri-steel is $100 more. So I think both swords are priced appropriately. DF just caters to the collecting crowd instead of the cutting crowd.

    By the way, Munetoshi is SwordnArmory. SwordnArmory is Munetoshi. It is the exclusive branch of the vendor. One good thing I really like about the branch is full disclosures. There is a whole lot of information on the sword on the website. Before buying, I knew the thickness at habaki to kissaki. I knew the type of steel. I even know the material of the fitting and the quality of the ito. No surprise.
    Last edited by M. Phan; 12-06-2010 at 11:43 PM.

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    By the way, Munetoshi is SwordnArmory. SwordnArmory is Munetoshi.
    The following is my observation only and does not reflect thoughts of anyone that has used these swords, or one that might disagree with ad copy and overall gallery appeal.

    If a company is pumping out inexpensive (junk in my opinion) swords that are being listed as "beaters"; How can that really relate well in more expensive offerings under the same name. Are they simply re-branding the junk? Or are the more expensive really a sign that more care is taken in construction? I do not see Munetoshi as a parallel situation with Hanwei (who offers less expensive but not junk katana).

    I have my own feelings about the use of the term "beaters" and feel it is a dis-service to folk wanting to progress but I can understand it in the same vein of "who cares about the fittings, I am just willing to pay a premium for a good blade. I guess I am just missing why any would go the blade route and pay for the whole package which may or may not be lacking, In a brief overview from my stance, the only difference between Munetoshi and Cheness might be blade geometry? Is that more or less a correct assumption, or is there really more to what Munetoshi has to offer.

    I am also curious how some may gauge the amount of curve a katana blade body might show. I use a flat surface or edge? Do others approximate that by eye, or is it more mechanical and precise. I'd hate to think it is passed on as words alone without more indication of such.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; a closet samureye at best so take my thoughts with heaps of salt

  8. #8
    That is an excellent question... I dunno if there's a niku "measurement", like sori etc... I have just seen the cross sectional shapes in the diagrams we all have seen, some strait, some rounded etc indicating niku. Mebbe... there isnt one, its a rule of thumb or appearance? Hard to believe that, tho, considering the culture behind the weapon.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glen C. View Post
    If a company is pumping out inexpensive (junk in my opinion) swords that are being listed as "beaters"; How can that really relate well in more expensive offerings under the same name. Are they simply re-branding the junk? Or are the more expensive really a sign that more care is taken in construction? I do not see Munetoshi as a parallel situation with Hanwei (who offers less expensive but not junk katana).

    In a brief overview from my stance, the only difference between Munetoshi and Cheness might be blade geometry? Is that more or less a correct assumption, or is there really more to what Munetoshi has to offer.

    I am also curious how some may gauge the amount of curve a katana blade body might show. I use a flat surface or edge? Do others approximate that by eye, or is it more mechanical and precise. I'd hate to think it is passed on as words alone without more indication of such.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; a closet samureye at best so take my thoughts with heaps of salt
    First of all, the comparision with Cheness is unfair, and very inaccurate. I made mistake of buying a Cheness iaito. The Cheness is only 2.4 lbs but it feels like a crow bar. In my opinion, it is not a sword. The Enkai is 2.8 lbs and is much more balance. Fits and finishes are worlds apart.

    Speaking of junk, what do you consider junk? My definition of junk is a sword that is not usable as a martial arts tool? Cheness clearly fit that category -- too unbalanced. I bought the most expensive Munetoshi sword, so my experience is limited to that. But from the reviews of the lower end swords, they are balanced and usable as a light cutter. This should satisfy the bare minimum criteria as a martial art tool.

    If utility as a martial tool is the criteria, many of Hanwei swords are junks. For example, I bought my first sword, the Bamboo Mat, because everyone praised it. Sure, the same has a giant emperor node; but nobody told me about the fat and straight axe handle tsuka. The saya is so fat it is difficult to do noto; and the sword rattles in the saya. Since the tsuka shape is critical in JSA, is the Bamboo Mat junk? Even the more expensive Hanwei Bushido has a fat and straight tsuka.

    In comparision with the Bamboo Mat and Bushido, the Muentoshi Enkai is superior in term of martial art weapons. Saya does not rattle and tsuka is correctly shaped.

    Speaking of niku, it is difficult to tell between slight niku and no niku. But if a sword has substantial niku, it is clearly visible looking direct at the ha. You should be able to see the curve going toward the shinogi. It can be seen clearly in the Enkai.

    I also find that in many reviews, the functionality of the sword is completely overlooked and the reviewer focus mainly on appearance.

    PS: Not all Hanwei katana have axe handle tsuka, the Tea Culture and Tori have decent tsuka.
    Last edited by M. Phan; 12-07-2010 at 05:59 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by M. Phan View Post
    First of all, the comparision with Cheness is unfair, and very inaccurate. I made mistake of buying a Cheness iaito. The Cheness is only 2.4 lbs but it feels like a crow bar. In my opinion, it is not a sword. The Enkai is 2.8 lbs and is much more balance. Fits and finishes are worlds apart.

    Speaking of junk, what do you considered junk? My definition of junk is a sword that is not usable as a martial arts tool? Cheness clearly fit that category -- too unbalanced. I bought the most expensive Munetoshi sword, so my experience is limited to that. But from the reviews of the lower end swords, they are balanced and usable as a light cutter. This should satisfy the bare minimum criteria as a martial art tool.

    If utility as a martial tool is the criteria, many of Hanwei swords are junks. For example, I bought my first sword, the Bamboo Mat, because everyone praised it. Sure, the same has a giant emperor node; but nobody told me about the fat and straight axe handle tsuka. The saya is so fat it is difficult to do noto; and the sword rattles in the saya. Since the tsuka shape is critical in JSA, is the Bamboo Mat junk? Even the more expensive Hanwei Bushido has a fat and straight tsuka.

    In comparision with the Bamboo Mat and Bushido, the Muentoshi Enkai is superior in term of martial art weapons. Saya does not rattle and tsuka is correctly shaped.

    Speaking of niku, it is difficult to tell between slight niku and no niku. But if a sword has substantial niku, it is clearly visible looking direct at the ha. You should be able to see the curve going toward the shinogi. It can be seen clearly in the Enkai.

    PS: Not all Hanwei katana have axe handle tsuka, the Tea Culture and Tori have decent tsuka.
    I have highlighted the only section of the post I really care to reply to, as you are asking me specifically what I regard as junk. I regard the mass of Chinese katana with alloy fittings, bad wraps and faux attributes (such as wire brushed hamon) as the real junk out there. A $75 sword termed as a beater and qualified as a martial arts tool reeks danger to me but keep in mind this is my opinion, not a review of the product.

    If one were to ply through this board, the same justifications of worth can be easily found in regard to the Cheness swords. Some dojo are written as buying from Cheness in bulk. More hype? Any more hype than owning one sword from a source/vendor and praising the product to the heavens? Even in a brief regard of the vendor site and some reviews (and again my opinion) I read of vast improvements being made over time. Give me a break ok? This is exactly the same type of mantra that was felt to bolster Cheness.

    Has the overall quality of the mass produced Chinese exports improved? Undeniable, yet I still see the track record of longer standing business as a real plus vs the guarantees of cover the dissatisfied.

    As to Hanwei baseball bat construction of both tsuka and saya, I somewhat agree as having viewed and handled some period swords and parts. I also watched a lot of Japanese films and can see lots of failings in the production market as well. Then as a fairly innocent observer of trends not just here at SFO but on other boards regarding the flavor of the moment.

    M Phan, do me a favor. Post a picture of your Munetoshi tsuka from four angles. Straight on profiles and straight on from the top and bottom. That might impress the heck out of my meager knowledge and opinion but a good many of the supposed new wonder swords coming out of China still seem to be working a learning curve in terms of how much better they truly might be made.

    It also seems that a good amount of your opinion is based on reviews, as opposed to personally handling these swords. I am not nay saying anyone's ability, knowledge or experience but just as with my own presentation here, much offered might be better taken/served by the readers with a good amount of salt.

    I do have to be honest in saying my one Japanese style sword here is an old Hanwei Practical katana from early 2003 sales. What I can see and judge for myself easily is that the thickness of that tsuka is a good bit less than many of these wonder swords being praised as real bargains. Yes, the tsuka profile is quite straight. IIRC, there is some credence in the style in Japan's history as well. I see lots of variety in Japanese films and yes, this is just the movies but the volume of films from the 1950s and 1960s (to me) indicates more real swords than props were being shown and used. That may be a real misconception on my part but easier on my own eyes than what is often presented on forums as history and historically tailored swords.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; Sorry for what may read as a rant. Simply some observations and a reply due as M Phan has asked for clarification of my previous post.

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    Glen,

    I believe you either mis-read my post or put words in my mouth. At no point did I praise it to the heaven. A person asked if Munetoshi is any good. I replied that it is as good as any sword of the similar price range. And in some cases, superior to many swords of the same price range. I stated clearly that Dynasty Forge is a better sword in term of aethestic, fits, and finishes. Sadly DF lacks niku.

    Attached is the overhead shot of three swords that I own of their tsuka. The top one is MAS Sunflower, clearly the best tsuka shape. The middle one is the Munetoshi, not as good as the Sun Flower, but is correct in shape. The bottom one is the Bamboo Mat, axe hande. I chose specifically these three because they represent the regression from really good to acceptable to bad.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Next shot is the comparision between Dynasty Forge Bushi and Munetoshi Enkai. The green ito in DF and the brown ito is Munetoshi. Both tsuka shapes equally good. I apologize for the quality of the picture, it is an Iphone.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    The last shot are Hanwei Tori, Munetoshi Enkai, and Hanwei Tea Culture. As I said before, not all Hanwei tsuka are bad. Both the Tori and Tea Culture have good (not very good, but good enough) tsuka shape. But three tsuka are equally good, except that the Tori and Tea Culture are more expensive.
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    One more shot. The white same is my Japanese made zinc-alloy iaito, the standard of proper shape tsuka. The black same is the Enkai.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    All of these are profile shots. My interest and then your showing them is appreciated. However, none are of the top and bottom. Those shots can show a great deal (from my perspective) regarding the thickness and bulk of a given tsuka, as well as care made in wrapping.

    Phan, I apologize if you feel I am attacking your relating what you see but my last reply was more or less specifically targeted as to what I see as junk and what I am getting in further reply is not addressing what I have offered as personal opinion while denying no one their own.

    Thanks again for the profile shots.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; it seems no information regarding the fittings from Munetoshi are is much of importance at all
    Last edited by Glen C.; 12-07-2010 at 07:32 PM. Reason: typlos grammer

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    As I have said before, the quality of the fitting material is mediocre. The ito is synthetic fiber. The quality of the stingray is average. Fuchi, kashira, and tsuba are blacken steel (magnet stick to them). These information are available on SwordNAmory, nothing is hidden. The pictures on their sites are representative of what you would get. Speaking of same, despite the fat tsuka, Hanwei Bamboo Mat has really nice same with giant emperor node. The wrap are equally tight in both swords.

    Just to be clear, all production swords (even the most expensive) are inadequate in some way. They are afterall mass produced. But Munetoshi is comparable to any swords of the same price range. All swords of that price range have deficiencies. They have different deficiencies. The buyer must decide what deficiencies he is willing to accept. For me, incorrect tsuka shape and/or poor balance is unacceptable.

    It is difficult to do some the shot you asked without a sword display stand. But here is one side shot next to my zinc-iaito to show the thickness of the tsuka.

    PS: Without forgeting the innitial post. I will recommend to the original poster Dynasty Forge Bushi Tri-Steel over the Munetoshi. He will not cut hard targets; so there is no need to get the Munetoshi. Dynasty Forge is more aethestically pleasing, a much better display sword.
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    Last edited by M. Phan; 12-07-2010 at 08:04 PM.

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    Thanks for the edge on shot.

    My curiosity about the fittings more regards the metal bits. Pot metal? Copper/brass? Tsuba on the mid-high class swords? Junk fittings on the cheap ones?

    Again my own personal opinion is also in regard as to the overall presentation from companies and that the low end is said to be servicable.

    As to eying niku/geometery it has not been just Japanese type swords I have used a flat edge for in looking for a convex or flat (or hollowed) grind.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; Thanks again for the lumpiness and thickness of tsuka shot I was looking for

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    They are steel (fuchi, kashira, and tsuba). Magnet stuck to them. On the lower end Munetoshi, it is advertised as "alloy." But I have no idea what they mean by "alloy." I prefer steel, but brass alloy is acceptable. MAS Sunflower's fittings are brass. But zinc alloy is not good.

  19. #19
    Hey M. Phan,

    Would you be willing to take a few shots of the blade of your Enkai? I would be very interested in seeing them... I think I am close to making a decision

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    Quote Originally Posted by michael granovsky View Post
    Hey M. Phan,

    Would you be willing to take a few shots of the blade of your Enkai? I would be very interested in seeing them... I think I am close to making a decision
    I tried, but my Iphone does not produce good picture and I lack the proper lighting to show the hada. It would be a disservice to you to post the pictures.

    All I can say is that the hada is there and it is folded. However if hada is your interest, the Dynasty Forge Bushi tri-steel forged fold is much nicer. I have the DF tri-steel as well. Tri-steel simply produce nicer hada than folded mono-steel.

    The main thing that lead me toward the Enkai is the medium niku for cutting purpose. But if you cut only tatami, DF is more than sufficient for that purpose and it is a better looking display blade.

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    I was looking at theMunetoshi Enkai as well, its nice to hear good feedback on it.
    Last edited by J Cooper; 12-09-2010 at 08:51 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Coris View Post
    It is nice that you are satisfied with your Munetoshi. However, it is a fact that although sword N armoury is a reputable company, the munetoshi line is made in China (like most production katana anyway) by an unknown forge..
    So far I havent heard about any QC issues from whatever forge Munetoshi uses. which sounds like a good thing. Most of the swords are sold exclusively at swordnarmory, as opposed to mass distribution to other online shops.
    Last edited by J Cooper; 12-13-2010 at 05:04 PM.

  23. #23
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    Personaly, I still think that such swords are a risky choice. Even Hanwei has QC issues. Still some might get an unexpectantly well made sword. And "well made" is something VERY subjective...
    Daring beyond power, risking against prudent advice and optimists in danger...
    Thucydides

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Coris View Post
    Personaly, I still think that such swords are a risky choice. Even Hanwei has QC issues. Still some might get an unexpectantly well made sword. And "well made" is something VERY subjective...
    No more risky than Hanwei. Hanwei and Dynasty Forge both had crack tsuka before. And in one known case, an Hanwei L6 Oni was improperly heat treated. All production swords have potential issues.

    The more important factor is the vendor. If you have a good vendor with reasonable return or exchange policy, then you are fine.

    You want perfect QC, get a custom blade and have it custom mounted.

    I own several Hanwei, but I think there should be more options and competitions. It is better for the consumers. Hanwei would not come out with the Raptor Series and Dynasty Forge would not come out with the Musha Line had not for serious competition from less well known companies.

    Personally, I think if you simply go by the biggest company, you may not get the best products. For example, I think Dynasty Forge make far better products for the same price in comparision with Hanwei. Yet it is Hanwei that has the largest market share.

    A market dominate a couple of big companies is not an efficient market.
    Last edited by M. Phan; 12-13-2010 at 05:43 PM.

  25. #25
    M. Phan,

    What is your opinion of the hamon on your Enkai? Does it have a nice nioi line? In the photos of the Monshou, its a subtle hamon with lots of activity which I like very much and is a step up from the pc Bushido but photos arent always completely revealing. Obviously it comes down to these two models Im choosing from. Also, what is your opinion of the polish and appearance of the grain pattern? Balance and handling? Overall quality? Am I being impatient waiting for your review?
    I wonder if Akihana/Katsu in 1065 f/f is the way to go, those hamons look great! But Im also into grain pattern appearance which attracts me to the Bushido. Your thoughts?

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