Antique Fair

I spent all afternoon at Kyoto Antique Fair and I still have the feeling I didn’t see it all. There are about 350 antique dealers trying to sell literally millions of items in three days before they move on to the next venue. This fair is travelling through all of Japan and stops over in Kyoto a few times a year. The sheer amount of items for sale is overwhelming, and if you just go there to browse, without something specific in mind, it is possible to spend all three days there just looking at stuff. Most of the things on offer are at least vintage, if not truly antique.

There were thousands of pieces of jewelry, probably mostly costume pieces although I cannot ascertain that. One person sold real jewels, cut already, but without mounting, and although he offered me a “good price” for one of the jewels I coveted (a large, beautiful tourmaline, changing its colour from green to red), it was still beyond my financial capabilities.

Another favourite of mine are old chests and cabinets, especially those that were once used for medicine and have lots of little drawers. There were so many of them, some of them in mint condition – and unaffordable, of course. A very small one, with four drawers in A4 size cost less than EUR 20 but I decided not to get it because I don’t want to clutter up my room at Ebisu’s with more things than necessary. There will be other such pieces, I am sure. In a similar vein, I have seen lots of little sewing chests and one stunning writing desk which was even more expensive than the jewel I talked about above…

Much cheaper were the kimonos and obi, some of them used, some of them brand new. In fact, there were quite a number of dealers who sold brand new wares as well, especially clothing, ceramics, and Buddhist prayer beads. Other cheaper items included equipment for calligraphy, hanging scrolls, and sake cups. Of the latter there must be millions of different designs and shapes and sizes. It’s probably very dangerous to start collecting those – you are never finished. Ever.

Last but not least, there were plenty of swords (both katana and wakizashi) in all price ranges, together with accessories (tsuba for example) and a handful of complete samurai armour. Unfortunately I cannot assess the value of such items, so I would probably fall prey to a smart salesman who could tell me anything about the thing in the full knowledge that I would not be able to prove him wrong. Besides, a sword would not really help me fighting the cockroaches in our kitchen 😉 I do confess that I fell head over heels for one particular little weapon I found by chance… and I still love it so much that I am tempted to go back and buy it after all… The problem is: I’m not good at haggling, and so far my online attempts to assess its value have been fruitless.

Temptation… it’s always out there, it’s just a question of how to deal with it…