Occasionally, I get asked by people wanting to get started in Japanese woodworking what tools they should buy first (or ask for for Christman). While I’m sure there will be some disagreement, this is where I would and did start.
Chisels – bench (Oire-nomi) About $70 each
Four or five bench chisels in the 1/8″ – 1″ range is a great starting point. They don’t have to be the best you can find, but shouldn’t be the cheapest either. A nice middle-ground brand will be your best bet. They won’t frustrate you by not holding an edge as is common with cheaper chisels, and you won’t be (quite as) heartbroken if you drop and chip one that cost a couple of hundred dollars.
Chisels – paring (Tsuki-nomi) About $70
For finer work it’s often nice to have a longer handled push chisel on hand. Go for the same sizes and quality as the bench chisels.