Order today and we will ship before
Order today and we will ship before
Price may increase depending on customizations
All orders are final. No modification or cancellation will be accepted once an order is placed. Even shorter production delays do not give right to cancellation.
The production time is 3 to 5 weeks for Minosaka Iaito, 6 (standard) to 10 (full custom) weeks for Jisei Iaito (without including possible holidays) depending on selected options. We will contact you within 3 business days after you passed your order if the completion date estimated by the workshop is later than the shipping date indicated at checkout.
To ensure that you haven't missed anything, all options must be selected, even when you want a standard element.
Even if an option is visible on the product's pictures, it is not available for this specific product if it is not visible in the selection. All available options are displayed in that selection and we will not accept any request for options not listed below.
We strongly recommend reading in details our guide "How to Choose your Iaito" and taking time to make sure that each option corresponds to your wish before placing an order for a custom Iaito.
Blade Shape & Groove
The Dotanuki Iaito is a very special model based on the ones of the famous blacksmith Dotanuki Masakuni. His blades were not of a remarkable quality, but they were especially heavy and had many different original shapes which were almost never copied in history.
- Standard Blade: very similar to all other models, except its very heavy weight: about 1,200 g (without Saya).
Unokubi Blade: Unokubi means " like the う letter" in Japanese. It refers to a blade that does not have a Shinogi (the top part of the blade). The groove starts under the Habaki and stops at about one third of the blade. Where the groove ends, the blade starts to get thinner.
This pushes very much the balance of the sword towards the Tsuka, allowing to keep a balance very similar to a standard weight Iaito but with a very heavy blade.
It is said that this finish makes cutting easier as the cutting edge (the mono uchi) is thinner. With its shorter groove, this version is even heavier, 1,250 g (without Saya).
- Daiboshi Blade: Daiboshi simply means "big hat", and it refers to the kissaki (tip) of the blade. The Boshi is precisely the part of the Hamon temper line that extends towards the kissaki. The Kissaki of this model is therefore much more longer than that of the other two models. Moreover, the groove is also limited to one third of the blade, which makes it the heaviest Iaito blade made in Japan- all workshops included. Similarly to the Unokubi version, this blade type is the heaviest, weighing about 1,250 g (without Saya).
The blade length is measured in the Japanese traditional unit called Shaku. One Shaku equals 30.3 cm, or roughly 1 feet (0.994 Ft.). Its sub-unit is the "Sun". There are ten "Sun" in one "Shaku", so 5 Sun can also be written 0.5 Shaku. Please note that a blade length does not include the Habaki (see pictures), but is measured in a straight line from the tip (Kissaki) to what is called the Munemachi (base of the blade), hidden under and partly covered by the Habaki. Light and standard blades are available for lengths up to 2.55 Shaku and thick/heavy blades are available for lengths up to 2.70 Shaku, owing to the alloy’s resistance. Wakizashi are available from 1.30 to 1.50 Shaku.
Here is the text for the Satsuma Koshirae Monster:
The blade length depends on your height, on your arms length and on the school in which you practice. The size table below is the official recommendation of the Japanese Iaido Federation. Women are advised to use a blade one size shorter than that of men of the same height. We also recommend for people who are not specialists (Aikidoka for example) to use a blade a size shorter than the recommendation, because it will make the sword unsheathing/sheathing easier.
Please also make sure to consult your teacher to check that the size table below is applicable to your school.
Please note that the size recommendation does not apply to Wakizashi as the Iaido federation does not provide such recommendations. However, we do recommend avoiding too long blades for small practitioners
|Your height||Length for men||Length for women|
|~ 150 cm||1.30 shaku / 39.4 cm||N/A|
|~ 150 cm||1.35 shaku / 40.9 cm||N/A|
|~ 150 cm||1.40 shaku / 42.4 cm||N/A|
|~ 150 cm||1.45 shaku / 43.9 cm||N/A|
|~ 150 cm||1.50 shaku / 45.4 cm||N/A|
|~ 150 cm||2.20 shaku / 66.6 cm||N/A|
|~ 155 cm||2.25 shaku / 68.2 cm||2.20 shaku / 66.6 cm|
|~ 160 cm||2.30 shaku / 69.6 cm||2.25 shaku / 68.2 cm|
|~ 165 cm||2.35 shaku / 71.2 cm||2.30 shaku / 69.6 cm|
|~ 170 cm||2.40 shaku / 72.7 cm||2.35 shaku / 71.2 cm|
|~ 175 cm||2.45 shaku / 74.2 cm||2.40 shaku / 72.7 cm|
|~ 180 cm||2.50 shaku / 75.8 cm||2.45 shaku / 74.2 cm|
|~ 185 cm||2.55 shaku / 77.3 cm||2.50 shaku / 75.8 cm|
|~ 190 cm||2.60 shaku / 78.8 cm||2.55 shaku / 77.3 cm|
|Up to 200 cm||2.70 shaku / 81.8 cm||NA|
For a real steel blade, clay is applied on the blade before the cooling process, and the difference in hardness between the edge and the rest of the blade results in this line called "Hamon". It defines the transition between the region of harder martensitic steel at the blade's edge and the softer pearlitic steel at the center and back of the sword. This difference in hardness is the goal of the whole process; the appearance is purely a side effect but the Hamon became a very important artistic feature that defines the level of mastery of the swordsmith. As Iaito are being made from an alloy, the Hamon is printed by depolishing the blade using specific patterns. Minosaka's craftsmen do their best to reproduce the most famous Hamon.
The Suguha, Midare, Notare and Gunome Hamon are standardized Hamon. They are a kind of combination between the most common types of existing Hamon. All other models are fairly faithful reproductions of Hamon existing on ancient blades. Hamon are named either by the name of the Samurai who possessed the sword (for famous swords) or by the name of the Swordsmiths (for the most famous swordsmith). Their price depends on the quantity of work needed to reproduce them.
Habaki & Seppa
The habaki is the piece of metal circling the base of the blade. It has two main purposes: locking the tsuba in its place and holding the sword into the Saya.
Unlike the Shinken Habaki which can be very expensive, the Iaito Habaki are standardized and gently forced into place. This means that it is not recommended to remove or change the Habaki on a Iaito blade.
Habaki are made of brass and are available in two different designs: standard and Shonai (old design) and in 3 different finishes: black (oxidised), gold plated and silver plated. Please note that due to the oxidation process, it is not possible to blacken the Shonai design.
The seppa are washers used in front and behind the tsuba to tighten the fittings, made of copper or brass. They are compulsory to keep the Tsuba safely into place.
They are available in black (oxidised), gold plated brass and silver plated brass.
The Tsuba is the sword's guard. It has the function of protecting the hand from the opponent's blade but also from having one's hand sliding onto the blade during Tsuki (thrust) techniques.
However, it has two other qualities: aesthetics and balance adjustment. During the Edo period, the Tsuba turned progressively into a decorative ornament. It was often generously well made, giving every sword a personal and particular touch.
There can be one or two holes on the sides of the Tsuba. They were used to unsheathe the Kogatana (small knife) or Kogai (hairpin) that were fitted inside the sides of the Saya. Tsuba used to be made by entire dynasties of craftsmen who only specialized in that particular field; they have almost vanished in the present time.
The average weight of a standard Tsuba is 120 g.
A heavy Tsuba (> 120 g) will tend to shift the balance downwards the handle, making the Iaito easier to handle whereas a light Tsuba (< 120 g) will push the balance towards the Kissaki, the tip of the blade. The latter is recommended if you decide to focus on cutting training. You will find below some pictures of all our Tsuba but also details on size, material, and weight.
Please note that the pictures above only display the front side of the Tsuba. You can find pictures of the reverse of each Tsuba on the dedicated product page.
Tsuba Technical Specifications
|Eagle||Blackened iron||75 mm x 70 mm x 4.1 mm||136 g|
|Name of a famous Samurai clan. Also called Kuruma Sukashi.||Blackened copper||75 mm x 73 mm x 5.3 mm||123 g|
|The 7 treasures (gold, silver, pearls, agate, crystal, coral, lapis lazuli)||Blackened iron||74 mm x 70 mm x 4.1 mm||135 g|
|Favored by the famous samurai Hanjiro.||Blackened copper||79 mm x 65 mm x 6 mm||142 g|
|Design by a famous blacksmith of the Edo period||Blackened iron||84 mm x 75 mm x 4.3 mm||150 g|
|Gourd (calabash)||Blackened copper||71 mm x 70 mm x 5 mm||126 g|
|Used by the most famous of all samurai||Blackened copper||74 mm x 74 mm x 7.1 mm||146 g|
|Kasuga refers to the shape of the Tsuba.||Blackened iron||84 mm x 76 mm x 4.1 mm||138 g|
|Dragon under the rain||Blackened iron||81 mm x 77 mm x 4.1 mm||147 g|
|Holothuroidea (sea cucumber)||Blackened iron||74 mm x 69 mm x 4.1 mm||90 g|
|Plain (no pattern)||Blackened iron||74 mm x 69 mm x 4.1 mm||134 g|
|Butterfly shadow||Blackened copper||74 mm x 72 mm x 5 mm||106 g|
|Waves||Blackened iron||81 mm x 77 mm x 4.1 mm||145 g|
|Design by a famous blacksmith of the Edo period||Blackened copper||76 mm x 72 mm x 4.5 mm||120 g|
|A famous design of the Higo province (now Kumamoto)||Blackened iron||75 mm x 71 mm x 4.1 mm||90 g|
|Design by a famous blacksmith of the Edo period||Blackened iron||85 mm x 76 mm x 4.1 mm||165 g|
Icho Zogan (Kasuga)
|Kasuga shape with silver ginkgo arabesque||Blackened iron||84 mm x 77 mm x 4.1 mm||141 g|
The Tsuka, or handle, is made of Japanese hackberry wood. On a Shinken, the Same is a piece of shark skin wrapped around the wood to reinforce the Tsuka structure. However, the Tsuka on a Iaito only features small pieces of shark skin that are inlaid in the wood on each side, for the aesthetics but also, so that the cost remains affordable.
The length of the Tsuka is measured including the Fuchi and the Kashira dimensions. Depending on the kind of Tsukaito (cotton, silk, leather), the length of the Tsuka can be slightly adapted to get a precise result.
In most schools, the length of the Tsuka should be sufficient to put one hand of the practitioner three times (that is, there should be a space equal to one hand between your hands when you hold the sword).
The length of the Tsuka will also have to be rather important regarding the balance of the Iaito. If you want to keep a standard balance, we recommend that you follow the indications below.
|Blade Length||Recommended Tsuka Length|
|1.30 ~ 1.35 Shaku blade||5.5 ~ 6 sun Tsuka|
|1.40 ~ 1.45 Shaku blade||6 ~ 6.5 sun Tsuka|
|1.50 Shaku blade||6.5 ~ 7 sun Tsuka|
|2.20 ~ 2.25 Shaku blade||7.5 ~ 8 sun Tsuka|
|2.20 ~ 2.25 Shaku blade||7.5 ~ 8 sun Tsuka|
|2.30 ~ 2.35 Shaku blade||8 ~ 8.5 sun Tsuka|
|2.40 ~ 2.45 Shaku blade||8.5 ~ 9 sun Tsuka|
|2.50 ~ 2.55 Shaku blade||9 ~ 9.5 sun Tsuka|
|2.60 ~ 2.70 Shaku blade||9.5 ~ 10 sun Tsuka|
The Tsukaito has two main goals: it serves as a grip and it holds the Tsuka tightly. A tightly wrapped Tsuka is extremely important for security.
Cotton allows better absorption of the sweat but it is less durable than silk and leather. It is the standard option for most Iaito.
Silk feels a little harder and is sometimes not recommended for beginners. However, it has a significantly longer lifespan.
Sweat is not really absorbed by Leather but this latter offers an excellent grip and it is the most durable material. Leather is available in standard and suede version (napped finish). The latter has a slightly better grip but it is slightly less durable.
Please note that those materials are made traditionally - they are not mass-produced. Therefore, colors can slightly vary depending on the batch.
In general, the Tsukaito is of the same color as the Sageo to keep the fitting harmonious, but this is not compulsory; you can select two different colors if you like.
Tsuka Same & Maki
The Samekawa or "shark skin" is the part under the Tsukaito. Shark hunting is no longer practiced nowadays; therefore, despite the name “samekawa”, it’s actually stingray skin which is used. Its main goal is to keep the Tsukaito into place and to reinforce the Tsuka structure. The Same is sanded and polished in order to produce a durable superior-quality type of leather.
On live blades (Shinken) mounts, the Same is a "maki same", which wraps the Tsuka wood. However, for cost reasons, the Iaito Tsuka is made with two rectangular pieces of Same inlaid in the Tsuka. This is called Tanzaku-same.
The "Makisame" is a large piece of stingray skin which wraps the Tsuka. It makes the Tsuka slightly bigger and it significantly strengthens it, which improves its grip and its lifetime. The Makisame is made the same way Shinken Same are made.
Please note that we also offer a plastic Same option for customers concerned about animal protection. The plastic Same is only available in white or black, and as a "Tanzaku Same only" (Makisame is not possible).
The Tsukamaki is the way the tsukaito (cord) is wrapped around the Tsuka. The Hinerimaki is the standard wrapping, known by all practitioners.
The Hiramaki is a very specific wrapping that enables to make the centre of the Tsuka flat. This is a popular wrapping in Iai schools which use an important number of single-handed techniques/moves.
In order to hold the Menuki correctly, the cord goes over the Menuki on each side (which may significantly hide the Menuki if it’s a small one). Please note that we do not recommend this wrap for intensive practice as it is less durable than the standard Hinerimaki wrap.
Finally, the Katatemaki style is more designed for decoration than practice because it doesn't hold as well as the other wrappings. It is however proved that it was the wrapping used by the famous Samurai Akechi Mitsuhide. Given that the side parts of the Tsuka are left naked, this wrapping is only available with the Makisame option.
In option, we offer to put 2 Mekugi (peg) in the Tsuka. This may reassure you as 2 Mekugi make you feel safer. However, from the craftsmen's point of view, since Iaito are very rarely taken apart, this option is unnecessary. This option is not available for the Hiramaki.
The Saya is made of two pieces of Japanese hackberry wood that are glued together. It is reinforced by the Sayajiri (end of the Saya), the Koiguchi, and of course, the lacquer. Unlike Shinken, Saya lacquers for Iaito are not made from traditional Urushi lacquer but from modern urethane lacquer, due to financial reasons.
Lacquers with a name ending in "ro" have a glossy finish, with a perfectly smooth surface. Lacquers with a name ending in "ishime" have a grainy finish, with a rough touch. The "ro" finish being smoother, the Saya is easier to slip in the Obi (belt).
If you plan on moving a lot with your Iaito, we recommend a "ishime" finish, which has a better resistance to scratches.
Saya Kurikata (optional)
The Kurikata is the piece placed 8 cm from the Koiguchi (Saya hole) on the Omote side of the Saya, used to interlock the Sageo.
The Kurikata is usually placed 8 cm from the Koiguchi. Depending on your body type and on the school you practice, you may want to move away the Koiguchi a little. You can set the position up to 20 cm from the Koiguchi, but it shouldn't be farther than 12 to 15 cm. This option increases the production time to about 5 to 6 weeks.
The Shitodome is a small piece of brass, gold or silver plated, inserted in the Kurikata (the hole in which the Sageo goes). The Shitodome is purely decorative.
Please note that Shitodome only fit on regular Kurikata. If you select a Shitodome for a Dotanuki model with a metal Kurikata, it will be replaced by a standard Kurikata.