Tanto Iaito Minosaka Higo Koshirae - Custom Made

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The Higo Koshirae is a high-end Tanto fully order-made, crafted from scratch in Japan with a sand-casted bubble-free zinc/aluminum alloy blade. It is mounted on the base of the Higo Koshirae Iaito and Higo Koshirae Wakizashi.

Within the Minosaka lineup, the Higo model is on the middle-end, with high-quality Fuchi & Kashira, a higher grade finish for the Kuroro and Kuroishime lacquer, and of course, a higher grade finish for the blade (especially the Yokote).

"Higo" was a samurai clan of the Edo period whose swords were solely designed for combat effectiveness. Although many variations exist, the rounded Kashira is an immutable characteristic of this clan. The Fuchi and Kashira are of classic Higo design and feature arabesques patterns with gold inlay.

We offer as many customizations as possible for Habaki, Seppa, Tsukaito, Saya lacquer, and Sageo, however, the Hamidashi Tsuba and Suguha Hamon cannot be modified. Only small Menuki are available.

Given that the "Higo style" is extremely diverse and includes very different Koshirae styles, the workshop has no specific recommendation for the options. Feel free to customize this model to your liking.

Please note that, unlike standard size Iaito, the Tanto Saya is not standardized, which explains the price is higher than the full-length Iaito price.

Technical Specifications
Fuchi/Kashira FKM105 - Higo
Copper with gold inlay
Fuchi: 41 x 23 x 10 mm
Kashira: 35 x 18 x 16 mm
Blade bottom width ~31 mm
Blade end width ~20 mm
Blade bottom thickess ~6 mm
Weight ~380 g without Saya | ~510 g with Saya

Iaito Customizations

All orders are final. No modification or cancellation will be accepted once an order is placed. Short production delays do not give right to cancellation.

The production time is 3 to 6 weeks for Minosaka Iaito 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.


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 removing or changing the Habaki on an Iaito blade is not recommended.
Habaki are made of brass and are available in two different designs: standard and Shonai (old design) and in 3 different finishes: black (oxidized), 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 in place.
They are available in brass, copper, black (oxidized), gold-plated brass, and silver-plated brass.


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.

  • Sageo