Iaito Minosaka Satsuma Koshirae

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The Satsuma Koshirae is a very high-end Iaito, fully order-made, crafted from scratch in Japan with a sand-casted bubble-free zinc/aluminum alloy blade. This model has a very special extra-long and heavy blade, for a concept loosely based on the Satsuma Han swords used during the Bakumatsu and Satsuma rebellion. It is said such swords were wielded by the very famous last samurai Saigo Takamori, although it hasn't been formally confirmed.

As this product is produced in extremely small quantities, pieces are not standardized the same way they are for regular Iaito. Saya, Habaki, Seppa, and Tsuka are custom made to specifically fit the blade, the exact same way Shinken (genuine swords) mounts are made. This is what explains the price of this model, as the Koshirae has roughly the same cost as a Shinken Koshirae. 

Blade: 
The blade features a double groove with a kakinagashi style hi dome (groove start), and a Notare Hamon.
The blade being made in very small quantities (a dozen pieces a year), with a specific mold, it cannot be customized, other than for the length.

Tsuka: 
Due to the structure of the blade, the Tsuka length is 1.1 shaku (33.3 cm) and cannot be modified. 
By default, the Satsuma Koshirae is Tsuka mounted with genuine black lacquered cow leather, wrapped with black cotton tsukaito in Hiramaki style, and does not feature any Menuki.
Menuki can be added as per your liking, which we would recommend if you select the Hinerimaki wrapping style.  

All other elements can be customized to your liking, but we recommend keeping the Hiramaki (Ikkan style variation, specific to the Satsuma model) tsukamaki and leather same, as it is characteristic of the Satsuma style as well as the Satsuma Tsuba (wrought iron) with rain pattern (ame no zu), that has been designed specifically to fit such a long and heavy blade and the Kuroishime Saya. 
The default Kuroishime Saya has a slightly different finish on this model, as the Saya is a Shinken saya. We strongly recommend keeping this option as the finish is outstanding. 

Note that the standard mount designed by the workshop is the one on the product picture, with a Shonai brass Habaki, copper Seppa, Satsuma Tsuba, cotton black Tsukaito and Sageo, leather black same, Hiramaki wrapping,  2 mekugi, without menuki and kuroishime lacquer.

Within the Minosaka lineup, but also within any Japan-made Iaito lineup, this is the longest and heaviest sword manufactured today.

 

Technical Specifications
Fuchi/Kashira Satsuma Koshirae
Brass
Fuchi: 42 x 26 x 24 mm
Kashira: 38 x 24 x 16 mm
Blade bottom width ~36 mm
Blade end width ~30 mm
Blade bottom thickess ~8.5 mm
Weight for 3 Shaku ~1600 g without Saya | ~2,000 g with Saya

Iaito 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 Iaito6 (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 Length


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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

1.30 shaku / 39.4 cm 1.30 shaku / 39.4 cm

1.35 shaku / 40.9 cm 1.35 shaku / 40.9 cm

1.40 shaku / 42.4 cm 1.40 shaku / 42.4 cm

1.45 shaku / 43.9 cm 1.45 shaku / 43.9 cm

1.50 shaku / 45.4 cm 1.50 shaku / 45.4 cm
~ 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 N/A

Habaki & Seppa


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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.


Tsuba


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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.

The Sukashi series, from TM031 to TM036 is a special series of widely openned Tsuba (called Sukashi). Made of blackenned iron, they are coated by hand with a traditional laquer.

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

Tsuba Technical Specifications
Code
Name
Description Material Dimensions Weight
TM001
Washi
Eagle Blackened iron 75 mm x 70 mm x 4.1 mm 136 g
TM002
Yagyu
Name of a famous Samurai clan. Also called Kuruma Sukashi. Blackened copper 75 mm x 73 mm x 5.3 mm 123 g
TM003
Shippo
The 7 treasures (gold, silver, pearls, agate, crystal, coral, lapis lazuli) Blackened iron 74 mm x 70 mm x 4.1 mm 135 g
TM004
Hanjiro
Favored by the famous samurai Hanjiro. Blackened copper 79 mm x 65 mm x 6 mm 142 g
TM005
Umetada
Design by a famous blacksmith of the Edo period Blackened iron 84 mm x 75 mm x 4.3 mm 150 g
TM006
Hyotan
Gourd (calabash) Blackened copper 71 mm x 70 mm x 5 mm 126 g
TM007
Musashi
Used by the most famous of all samurai Blackened copper 74 mm x 74 mm x 7.1 mm 146 g
TM008
Kasuga
Kasuga refers to the shape of the Tsuba. Blackened iron 84 mm x 76 mm x 4.1 mm 138 g
TM009
Ameryu
Dragon under the rain Blackened iron 81 mm x 77 mm x 4.1 mm 147 g
TM010
Namako
Holothuroidea (sea cucumber) Blackened iron 74 mm x 69 mm x 4.1 mm 90 g
TM011
Muji
Plain (no pattern) Blackened iron 74 mm x 69 mm x 4.1 mm 134 g
TM012
Kagecho
Butterfly shadow Blackened copper 74 mm x 72 mm x 5 mm 106 g
TM013
Nami
Waves Blackened iron 81 mm x 77 mm x 4.1 mm 145 g
TM014
Hirata
Design by a famous blacksmith of the Edo period Blackened copper 76 mm x 72 mm x 4.5 mm 120 g
TM015
Higo
A famous design of the Higo province (now Kumamoto) Blackened iron 75 mm x 71 mm x 4.1 mm 90 g
TM016
Shin Umetada
Design by a famous blacksmith of the Edo period Blackened iron 85 mm x 76 mm x 4.1 mm 165 g
TM017
Icho Zogan (Kasuga)
Kasuga shape with silver ginkgo arabesque Blackened iron 84 mm x 77 mm x 4.1 mm 141 g
TM018
Mitsuboshi Sansumi Sukashi
Represents a constellation of 3 stars in triangle. This is also Minosaka's logo. Blackened iron 77 mm x 77 mm x 5 mm 100 g
TM019
Mokko Namako Sukashi
Namako (Holothuroidea) within a Mokko shape Blackened iron 72 mm x 75 mm x 5 mm 110 g
TM020
Yatsushiro Kagecho Sukashi
Copy of an ancient Tsuba made by master Yatsushiro. Represents the shadow of a butterfly. Blackened Iron 77 mm x 75 mm x 5 mm 100 g
TM021
Shiho Namako Sukashi
4 Holothuroidea (sea cucumber) Blackened Iron 79 mm x 74 mm x 5 mm 115 g
TM022
Akasaka Musashino Sukashi
Japanese pampas grass turned over after a storm, under a moon crescent Blackened iron 75 mm x 78 mm x 5 mm 100 g
TM023
Hanamon Sukashi
Flower petals - Famous Japanese crest Blackened iron 79 mm x 79 mm x 5 mm 60 g
TM024
Yotsuwa Sukashi
4 imbricated rings. Blackened Iron 72 mm x 73 mm x 5 mm 90 g
TM025
Ouka Sukashi
Represent a Sakura flower (cherry blossom). Also the lightest of all Tsuba. Blackened Iron 77 mm x 82 mm x 4.5 mm 60 g
TM026
Owari Sukashi
Tsuba made in the tradition of the Owari province (now Aichi prefecture). Blackened Iron 81 mm x 80 mm x 4.5 mm 100 g
TM027
Kuyo Sukashi
Features the symbolic 9 planets planets in the buddhism cosmogony. Blackened Iron 86 mm x 86 mm x 5 mm 165 g
TM028
Kagi Sukashi
Japanese hook symbol Blackened iron 83 mm x 83 mm x 5 mm 100 g
TM029
Yatsu Warabite Sukashi
8 Warabite (Japanese traditional symbol) Blackened iron 79 mm x 79 mm x 5 mm 130 g

Tsukaito


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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


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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 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.


Menuki


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The Menuki are ornaments on the Tsuka to insert into the handle so as to fit into the palm for grip. Originally, they are meant to distract the eyes from the Mekugi (peg). It is generally placed under the wrapping, but they may also appear on the wrapping, especially with a Ikkan-maki or Hira-maki wrapping style. Several thousands of designs have been created over the centuries. It is considered as jewellery and as such it has inspired many craftsmen.

The Menuki are usually located on the top of the left side (omote) and at the bottom on the right side (ura). We also offer two other possibilities: center both Menuki (on each side), or reverse positions (also called Sakasa Menuki) which will place the Menuki under your palms rather than under your fingers.

Menuki Technical Specifications

Menuki Technical Specifications
Code Description Material Length x Width
MM001
Hishi
This made in Japan Menuki features is a caltrop, also called "devil pod", an aquatic plant. Aluminum 15 mm x 34 mm
MM002
Sake
This made in Japan Menuki features a chum salmon. Sake symbolizes luck and was a very common offering to the gods. Brass 14 mm x 45 mm
MM003
Kenmakiryu
This made in Japan Menuki features a dragon wrapped around a sword. Aluminum 09 mm x 68 mm
MM004
Tombo
This made in Japan Menuki features a dragonfly. The dragonfly, or Tombo in Japanese is also called "Kachi Muchi", insect of victory. Aluminum 13 mm x 39 mm
MM005
Sakura
This made in Japan Menuki features cherry blossom, the luminous and beautiful yet fleeting and ephemeral Japanese cherry tree flower. Aluminum 11 mm x 11 mm
MM006
Ryu Sho
This made in Japan Menuki features a small dragon. It is similar to the bigger version. Brass 11 mm x 38 mm
MM007
Ryu Dai
This made in Japan Menuki features a big dragon. It is similar to the smaller version. Brass 11 mm x 53 mm
MM008
Tsukushi
This made in Japan Menuki features a horsetail, or Equisetum for its scientific name. Brass 06 mm x 58 mm
MM009
Botan
This made in Japan Menuki features a peony flower. Brass 12 mm x 54 mm
MM010
Hitsuji
This made in Japan Menuki features a lamb, symbol of peace and well-being. Brass 11 mm x 27 mm
MM011
Kenkatabami
This made in Japan Menuki features the "Maru ni Kenkatabami" Kamon. This Japanese crest was very popular among the samurai class and was adopted by many clans. Bronze 16 mm x 49 mm
MM012
Mukade
This made in Japan Menuki features a Mukade, a rather huge Japanese centipede. Brass 9 mm x 52 mm
MM013
Kuyomon
This made in Japan Menuki features the symbolic 9 planets in the Buddhism cosmogony. Bronze 15 mm x 45 mm
MM014
Ebi
This made in Japan Menuki features a prawn. Its popularity comes from its symbolism of vigor and longevity. Aluminum 11 mm x 7 mm
MM015
Tachibana
This made in Japan Menuki features a Tachibana flower over Acala's sword (Buddhist's deity). Aluminum 48 mm x 12 mm

Saya Lacquer


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The Saya is made of two pieces of Japanese magnolia 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.

  • Inro (SY221): the large wave pattern goes all the way down to the Sayajiri. The wave pattern acts as a grip and therefore might have a slight impact on your practice. It is the standard Saya for the Yagyu Koshirae Iaito and is only available for the Yagyu model. Of course, you are free to select another model.
  • Kuroro (SY101): glossy black lacquer.
  • Kuro-ishime (SY102): grainy black lacquer (scratch resistant).
  • Cha-ishime (SY103): black brown lacquer (scratch resistant).
  • Hon Kuroishime (SY200) and Hon Chaishime (SY201): those two Saya have several additional layers of lacquer and a significantly tighter grain. They can be considered as "Deluxe Kuroishime/Chaishime".
  • Tsuishu (SY202): traditional red lacquer with black and gold painted patterns.
  • Kuro Hirumaki (SY203): Black "tornado" lacquer. The name refers to the traces left by a leech ("Hiru") that would go around the Saya.
  • Shu Hirumaki (SY204): Red "tornado" lacquer. The name refers to the traces left by a leech ("Hiru") that would go around the Saya.
  • Chogai (SY205): ground pearl oyster shell - trapped into black lacquer.
  • Shinobue (SY206): it is the name of a Japanese flute, which the lacquer patterns represent.
  • Inden (SY207): the name refers to a traditional artistic pattern, reproduced here in black and red.
  • Shuro (SY208): crimson red lacquer.
  • Inro (SY221): the large wave pattern goes all the way down to the Sayajiri.
  • Han Same (SY209): A piece of shark skin wrapped at the top of the Saya.
  • Han Fuji-maki (SY210): A piece of wicker wrapped at the top of the Saya.
  • Kuroishime / Kuroro (SY211): upper part Kuroishime style (which prevents finger traces when grabing the Saya), then Kuroro lacquer to the bottom.
  • Wakasa (SY212): ground shells, pine needles, coleseeds or rice husks embedded with specific artistic patterns into red lacquer. Can not be combined with Maki/Kizami finish.

  • Saya Kurikata (optional)


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    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 Kurikata 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.


    Sageo