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Information for choosing your Iaito
Unlike for Dogi, Hakama, or Obi, the use of poor quality material to manufacture Iaito can be dangerous and lead to serious injuries. Seido is very attentive to safety and our Iaito are especially selected for their high quality.
Contrary to popular belief in the West, steel Iaito do not exist in Japan. Weapons ownership is strictly forbidden by law and the possession of a steel weapon is only possible via a circumvention of the law which categorizes the Katana as an art object, not a weapon. The fact remains that the law is very restrictive even for those owning real steel Katana, and for their price, the vast majority of practitioners tend to use Iaito. Iaito are usually made of aluminum/zinc alloys, which can be produced via different processes. Minosaka blades are produced through a proprietary process that yields a high quality, "bubble-free" alloy.
The first thing to determine when choosing a Iaito is your type of practice. Will you seldom use your Iaito? Do you use Iaito at every class? What type of Budo do you practice?
Beginners and casual weapons practitioners will opt for cheap and reliable material which is found in the Tokusei or Jidai Koshirae Iaito models. More seasoned practitioners and collectors will opt for higher end Higo Koshirae. High level practitioners will also appreciate heavy-weight models such as the Hon Koshirae. Beware though, Iaito are heavy and difficult to handle, they should be reserved for experienced practitioners.
The weight of the Iaito - It depends on blade length, tsuka length, and fitting options
The blade length is usually determined by the size of the practitioner. Be careful though: depending on schools and teachers, they may vary slightly compared to those of this table. In general, for Aikido practitioners for whom Noto (sheathing the sword in its sheath) does not seem crucial, we advise you to take a Iaito that is 0.5 shaku shorter than that which is suggested in the table.
The blade lengths are given according to the size of the practitioner and following the guidelines suggested by the Japanese Iaido Federation. Tsuka lengths are suggested by our team so as to conserve the balance of the weapon, but also taking into account the fact that the hands of Western practitioners are generally larger than that of the Japanese.
The following table does not take account of variations that occur when choosing tsuba and menuki.
Size Table & Weight
Tsuka Recommended Lenght
|Standard Weight Iaito
|Heavy Weight Iaito
|~ 150 cm||2.20 shaku / 66.6 cm||8 sun / 22.4 cm||670 g||850 g|
|~ 155 cm||2.25 shaku / 68.2 cm||8 sun / 22.4 cm||700 g||880 g|
|~ 160 cm||2.30 shaku / 69.6 cm||8.5 sun / 25.8 cm||720 g||910 g|
|~ 165 cm||2.35 shaku / 71.2 cm||8.5 sun / 25.8 cm||750 g||940 g|
|~ 170 cm||2.40 shaku / 72.7 cm||8.5 sun / 25.8 cm||780 g||970 g|
|~ 175 cm||2.45 shaku / 74.2 cm||9 sun / 27.3 cm||810 g||1000 g|
|~ 180 cm||2.50 shaku / 75.8 cm||9 sun / 27.3 cm||840 g||1030 g|
|~ 185 cm||2.55 shaku / 77.3 cm||9 sun / 27.3 cm||870 g||1060 g|
More information on available options
Click on the open buttons to display details.
The Hamon is a purely aesthetic option and has no effect on the usage of the weapon.
On Shinken (katana), it is produced by selective quenching, and its quality depends heavily on the forge.
The Iaito being made of aluminum, it cannot be sharpened, the Hamon is produced by etching through a stencil. In the same category of Hamon (eg Notare, Midare), the workshop prepared dozens of patterns of slight variation, so that there is very few identical Hamon.
Habaki & Seppa
Just like Hamon, Habaki and Seppa are for ornamental purposes only.
Habaki are proposed in 3 models: Muji (plain), Shonai, and Yujo.
While conventional models are made of raw copper, "Deluxe" models are proposed with gold and silver plating.
The tsukasame (ray skin) has a significant influence on the quality of the grip and it can be done in white or black. Its color is of course, only for aesthetic purpose.
Tsukaito & Sageo
The Tsukaito and the Sageo are available in cotton for the classic models and in silk for the "Deluxe" models.
Cotton has the advantage of a better sweat absorption but it will however be less durable than silk weaving.
The Tsuba has two main functions: aesthetic and balance adjustment.
A heavy Tsuba will tend to shift the balance downwards to itself, making the Iaito easier to handle whereas a light Tsuba will push the balance towards the Kissaki (choose this if you decide to focus on cutting training).
You will find below some photos of all our Tsuba but also details on their size, material, and weight.
|Washi||Eagle||7.5 cm||7 cm||4.1 mm||136 g||Wrought iron|
|Yagyu||Name of a famous Samurai clan||7.5 cm||7.3 cm||5.3 mm||123 g||Copper|
|Shippo||The 7 treasures (gold, silver, pearls, agate, crystal, coral, lapislazuli)||7.4 cm||7 cm||4.1 mm||135 g||Wrought iron|
|Hanjiro||Famous samurai||7.9 cm||6.5 cm||6 mm||142 g||Copper|
|Umedata||Famous blacksmith from the Edo period (shin means "new").||8.4 cm||7.5 cm||4.3 mm||150 g||Wrought iron|
|Hyotan||Gourd (calabash)||7.1 cm||7 cm||5 mm||126 g||Copper|
|Musashi||Famous samurai||7.4 cm||7.4 cm||7.1 mm||146 g||Copper|
|Kasuga||Spring sun. Name of the place.||8.4 cm||7.6 cm||4.1 mm||138 g||Wrought iron|
|Ameryu||Dragon under the rain.||8.1 cm||7.7 cm||4.1 mm||147 g||Wrought iron|
|Namako||Holoturie (sea cucumber)||7.4 cm||6.9 cm||4.1 mm||90 g||Wrought iron|
|Muji||"sans motif"||7.4 cm||6.9 cm||4.1 mm||134 g||Wrought iron|
|Kagecho||Butterfly shadow||7.4 cm||7.2 cm||5 mm||106 g||Copper|
|Nami||Wave||8.1 cm||7.7 cm||4.1 mm||145 g||Wrought iron|
|Hirata||Famous Edo period Samurai||7.6 cm||7.2 cm||4.5 mm||120 g||Copper|
|Higo||South Japan province (now Kumamoto)||7.5 cm||7.1 cm||4.1 mm||90 g||Wrought iron|
|Shin-umetada||Famous blacksmith of the Edo period (shin means "nez").||8.5 cm||7.6 cm||4.1 mm||165 g||Wrought iron|
|Mokko Kuyomon||Refers to the small drawing shown in upper left part of the tsuba, it is a Buddhist symbol representing "The 12 Principles of nine planets." "Mokko shape".||7.6 cm||7.9 cm||4 mm||124 g||Wrought iron|
|Maru Kuyomon||Also refers to the small drawing shown in upper left part of the tsuba, it is a Buddhist symbol representing "The 12 Principles of nine planets." "Rounded shape".||7.8 cm||7.7 cm||4.1 mm||136 g||Wrought iron|
The coating of the Saya protects the wood in which it is manufactured (magnolia). Even though the lacquering does not affect the practice, we generally advise to choose "Ishime" (Kuroishime, Chaishime) as it is more resistant to scratches.
The differences between the "Chaishime", "Kuroshime", and "Hon Chaishime" coatings reside in the number and thickness of the layers applied. The "Hon" (real in Japanese) models are composed of more layers and therefore, the processing time is longer than that of the "classic" models. The same applies to all deluxe Saya with complex lacquering.
Unlike steel Shinken (katana), Iaito require only minimal maintenance. It is not absolutely necessary to oil the blade because it does not rust even though, regularly doing so is advised so as to feed the wood of the Saya.
Please be careful not to use Uchiko powder (used for Shinken) as it may cause damage to alloy blades.
Of course, the Iaito should be promptly cleaned with a cloth after each class and ensuring the good maintenance of all parts is essential to keep the Iaito in good condition, and to avoid injuries.