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MUGEN - New Bogu Store!

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  • MUGEN - New Bogu Store!

    Hi Guys,

    Just wanted to take a minute to let you know about the new project I am heading, which is a brand new Bogu store from the team behind All Japan Budogu!

    Basically MUGEN is a premium Bogu shop, which EXCLUSIVELY offers items that are 100% made to order in Japan.

    To give a brief intro - last year the CEO of All Japan Budogu also took ownership of a company known at the time as Tada Sangyou. He then renamed it to The Kendogu Workshop of Japan. This company was already well known in Japan, being responsible for producing several famous brands (Hakko brand, Hotaru brand etc.).

    Now, the workshop that produced these brands, has come under the same umbrella as the team that brings you All Japan Budogu, and the unrivaled level of service that we have come to be known for, meaning that the products made at the Kendogu Workshop of Japan can now be easily purchased from anywhere in the world.

    For those wondering what the difference between MUGEN and All Japan Budogu is, put simply, All Japan Budogu is your ultimate source for top level Budogu, at competitive prices - it is also the home of Japan's most popular brand of Bogu - All Japan Pitch. MUGEN on the other hand, is a place where those looking for premium, 100% made in Japan equipment, can find exactly that.

    Please take the time to check it out! I hope you like it!



  • #2
    You want to clarify the difference between "top level" and "premium" there Andy? Also, from the new website, I see repeatedly "Manufactured by Japan's only workshop capable of producing 100% MADE IN JAPAN Kendogu". Are you telling us there is only one place in Japan making bogu?
    Last edited by Neil Gendzwill; 2nd February 2015, 10:43 PM.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Neil Gendzwill View Post
      You want to clarify the difference between "top level" and "premium" there Andy?
      Indeed there isn't a massive difference - however, the point I was trying to make was that AJB is about offering a comprehensive selection of top quality Budogu (for a multitude of arts), that are competitively priced. AJB also offers 100% Made in Japan 'Premium' Bogu sets too :


      However, MUGEN is exclusively offering an expansion on that concept. I'm no expert in cars, but for the sake of example, it's a little bit like how (in Japan at least) Toyota could be said to be top quality, reliable cars. Lexus are also that, but are basically an expanded premium range of models that are not completely available through Toyota. It's not a great analogy, as we aren't just switching the tag, and upping the price (not that I'm saying that Toyota are doing that with Lexus –as I don't really know), there is a difference in that the MUGEN range is completely tailor made from the best materials, and 100% Made in Japan. I just wanted to illustrate my usage of the terms ‘top level’, and ‘premium’.

      Originally posted by Neil Gendzwill View Post
      Are you telling us there is only one place in Japan making bogu?
      Well, it depends on your definition of 'making'.

      If you mean contracting The Kendogu Workshop of Japan Co., Ltd., to make Bogu with their own shop’s labels on it, then no, there are a ton of places doing that. It is true that many people assume that the store they bought their Bogu from also manufactured it, though it is rarely the case.

      If you mean manufacturing the majority of the parts abroad and assembling them in Japan, then again, no, there are a couple of places doing that too.

      But, if you mean completely making all of the parts, and producing the entirety of the Bogu, without using parts that have been imported from abroad, then yes, The Kendogu Workshop of Japan Co., Ltd. (our sister company - that makes the MUGEN series) is the only place currently doing that. The only pieces that we don’t make in-house are the Mengane (which is made to our original design, by Shinwa Kougyou in Niigata prefecture), and the Do-dai, of which requires an Urushi lacquer specialist – which is basically a completely separate operation in itself.

      Hope that makes sense!


      • #4
        D'Artagnan drops the mic.

        Well, I sincerely doubt I'll need to replace my AJB Pitch Primo anytime soon, but I know what I'll aspire to when the time comes.



        • #5
          Hi All,

          If anyone is interested to see how the MUGEN Bogu is made, we just published a new episode of AJBTV taking you behind the scenes of the workshop

          Don't forget to watch it in HD!


          • #6
            I have a question because I really don't understand the Japanese bogu market. If premium handmade sets from Sankei or Tozando (i doubt they manufacture their own) cost around $4500, how can the Mugen sets be the same level of quality at around $1400? Are we just talking different levels of quality/aesthetics all together? I have a Mitsuboshi set I absolutely love that cost about $5000. It blows my "top of the line" handmade Ebogu set out of the water in terms of quality. The only set I've ever seen that matched the quality level of the Mitsuboshi was a high line Zen Sankei.

            Can someone please explain the bogu market so that I understand. Thanks in advance.


            • #7
              The Mugen stuff as advertised on the AJB website is not hand-stitched. The futon is machine-stitched. That will be a big chunk of the cost right there.


              • #8
                Duh - I missed that. Thank you Sensei. Anything else you can tell me about the premium bogu market? Are there only a few actual companies manufacturing for a large group of resellers?


                • #9
                  Sorry, I'm not all that up on the Japanese bogu market. I can tell you that some of the bogu sellers that were at the WKC were also advertising made in Japan products. If I am parsing Andy's reply from a few months back correctly, the thing about Mugen is that it all gets done under one roof whereas other suppliers may sub the work out to various places. Not sure if that really matters in the long run. There were some gorgeous hand-stitched bogu on display there.

                  AJB had rented some space nearby the Budokan to house a temporary store, where they were displaying several sets that are only available through the Japanese website, including some true hand-stitched stuff that was priced more like you are used to seeing (IIRC 400+ kyen/set). I ordered some of the top end hand-made but machine-stitched stuff from them, it will probably take until September before I receive it. I had been going to order some new hand-stitched stuff but decided instead to try out the newer construction style Andy is marketing. I'll let you know how it works out.
                  Last edited by Neil Gendzwill; 17th June 2015, 04:34 AM.


                  • #10
                    hank you very much sir. I really love hand stitched bogu and it's what I choose to spend my money on - the newer high level machine stitched stuff is more than adequate functionally. My neighbor purchased the machine stitched version of my hand stitched Mitsuboshi bogu and I can tell you it was about 90% of the functional quality for a 3rd of the price. That being said, one of the differences was in kote tsutsu. The hand stitched was MUCH more protective. What were some of the best hand stitched you saw that were "reasonable" in cost? Thanks in advance for any info, I know you have a great deal experience...


                    • #11
                      Really I don't have direct experience with that much stuff, so it is hard to comment. With bogu by and large you get what you pay for. So I don't recommend cheap hand-stitched set, you are better off buying machine at the lower price point. You can't really tell until you've used it for a while either. Guys like Andy who are in the industry and deal with lots of customers are way better informed than me, but then of course Andy has a job to do and that job is not promoting his competitors' bogu.

                      Our club was supplied by Koei for a long time and that's the brand I'm most familiar with but they are no longer really in the foreign market. I visited their store in Himeji and can tell you they still make very nice stuff, and had some good sale prices in-store. Their catalogue prices these days are not competitive with outfits like AJB though for most people.
                      Last edited by Neil Gendzwill; 17th June 2015, 11:02 PM.


                      • #12
                        Thank you again Sensei. I've heard really good things about AJP sets and it sounds like the Mugen is the next level. Could be an incredible set balanced with very reasonable cost. I dealt with Andy once at his previous employer and he has truly forgotten more about bogu than I will ever know. Take care sir.


                        • #13
                          Hi Andy,

                          I bought a Mitsuboshi bogu set some time ago and would like to replace it in the future, can you tell me which of your sets also has that machine-stich which is all fluffy? They told me something about how the pitch of the machine-stitch was longer or something.. to make the bogu more flexible and essentially like a cushion.

                          now another question for me is, since I've had a very positive experience with that kind of machine stitch, could a hand-stitched set still provide more comfort? More cost and labour doesn't always equal a better outcome so.. I was wondering.



                          • #14
                            According to the AJB production video they use one long thread for the entire futon? Unless I misunderstood the video.


                            • #15
                              Hi All,

                              Sorry for my late entry to the discussion!

                              Thank you all for the questions, I’ll try and address them all as comprehensively as I can, but let me know if I miss anything J But I am warning you now, this probably going to be a long post…

                              OK, about Hand stidtched Bogu, and the Bogu market in general.

                              The last 10 years of the Kendogu market in Japan have been pretty eventful, and the last 3 years or so have seen more changes than ever. Too much has happened to write it all here, so I’ll stick with what’s relevant to this discussion.

                              Put simply, the overall price of both machine stitched, and hand stitched Bogu has fallen dramatically. This is for a number of reasons, but largely it has been the result of years of over-charging by retailers being brought to an end by new companies with a different business ethic. I have said this before, but this one the main reason I decided to join the team at Zen Nihon Budogu (now trading internationally as All Japan Budogu). During our initial talks, the company president told me, that as a Kendoka himself, he wanted to increase the population of Kendo practitioners, by making Kendogu affordable. The strategies for this were to a) manufacture on a massive scale to reduce costs, and b) cut profits : his actual words were to the effect that he would rather sell two sets for 50,000 yen, than one of the same set for 100,000 yen, as although that meant that he would make less profit, it would mean that 2 people could buy the Bogu instead of one. This not only creates a larger customer base, but also hopefully helps to increase the popularity of Kendo.

                              Sadly, the Budogu industry is not regulated in any way. The few associations etc. that exist – themselves not regulated - are essentially formed out of quarrels, and are used to try and damage the appeal of rivals. The nonsense that is the SSP sticker for Shinai is a prime example of this. Because of the lack of regulation, retailers can essentially do whatever they want, and there is still a shocking amount of over-charging that goes on. I often see Bogu sets that should be being sold for $300 or so, being peddled for $600 or even $700! Sadly, the majority of people buying Bogu do not know how to tell the difference, and choose only on the price. The vendors know this, and take advantage of it. So on this point, I am afraid I have to disagree slightly with Neil about getting what you pay for. There is a whole swathe of companies out there that will charge you double or more for the same thing you can buy elsewhere at the appropriate price.

                              There are of course still very expensive sets out there – and they are expensive for a good reason. Our highest priced set – which was the one Neil mentioned that was being exhibited at the WKC – is called SHACHI, and *starts* at $3,530 USD. This is because it’s made using only the finest materials, and assembled by Japan’s top craftsmen. I personally believe that it is currently the best Bogu set – in terms of quality – available on the current market. Though as Neil rightly said, a person could be inclined to think ‘you would say that’

                              Being a senior director in one of the largest Kendogu manufacturers in the world, I am now in the position where - to be honest - there is very little I haven’t seen. I have seen the majority of what is being offered by our competitors, and I have been to their workshops. I can tell you from my own personal experience that, frankly, the difference between a $4,000 Bogu set and a $7,000 Bogu set is primarily one thing – status. The pride of being able to tell your pals ‘this Bogu cost me X’. In Japan, this status is actually a highly sought after commodity, not to mention a widely held blind belief in the idea that expensive = good.

                              In reference to hand stitched Bogu, I believe it is fair to say that these days 99% (probably 100%), is made primarily overseas, and in some cases partly assembled in Japan. The last place I heard of actually making hand stitched Bogu (including stitching the Futon) within Japan was actually the prisons. In the past, Bogu crafting was done as part of prison labor, but I am not sure if it still is, and frankly the quality was questionable to say the least. To my knowledge, there is nowhere producing 100% made in Japan (from start to finish) hand stitched Bogu.

                              MUGEN is a brand of Bogu produced by the Kendogu Workshop of Japan – formerly known as Tada Sangyou. It is currently the only workshop that is able to produce a 100% made in Japan Bogu set – by that I mean completely, from start to finish, and not just the assembly. The situation is a little different to what Neil mentions, in that it is not just that we do it all under one roof, and other companies advertising made in Japan source from other Japanese suppliers – rather, to put it simply, if a Bogu set is labelled as ‘Made in Japan’, then it is either a) made by the Kendogu Workshop of Japan, or b) Assembled in Japan, using parts that are made abroad.

                              MUGEN is not the only brand manufactured by the Kendogu Workshop of Japan – they supply Bogu retailers all over the country, so it may be that some of the ‘Made in Japan’ sets that were on display at the WKC were also made there, a1nd are indeed 100% made in Japan.

                              As for companies using foreign made parts to assemble Bogu in Japan, I am not saying that is a completely bad thing – Provided the price reflects it. In most cases it works in the same way as it does for hand stitched Bogu, the parts are made in China or another country, then shipped to Japan where they are assembled by Japanese craftsmen. In some cases, parts of the Bogu are made in Japan as well, but other parts are shipped in from abroad to complete the set. Because the word ‘made’ is in itself a little ambiguous in this context, Bogu made in this fashion is also labelled as ‘Made in Japan’, as that sounds better than ‘Finished’ or ‘Assembled’ in Japan.

                              As far as I am concerned, unless you really want a hand stitched set, I believe that the current crop of machine stitched sets are brilliant, and I would rather buy two of those, than one expensive hand stitched set…

                              Lastly, in reference to Not_Yoda’s point about the protection on the Kote. This depends on the specific set, but with the MUGEN range for example, it is all made to order, and it is quite easy for us to increase the padding/protection of the Kote’s Futon for example, so that it would protect you to the same level, or even better than a more expensive hand stitched Kote.
                              Last edited by D'Artagnan; 19th June 2015, 12:17 PM.