View Full Version : Who's Iaito are better...

31st July 2006, 03:12

I'm interested in picking up a new Iaito. I'm looking at Meirin Sangyo, Token Mino, and Sei Do Kai any one got any feed back on which has the best quality?

25th August 2006, 11:27
Hi there I cant comment on the Iaito made by those people, I can recomend Tozando and Nishijin (Tozando's sister company) I have bought from both and they are superb, and they have a fairly large price range.

Kind regards

25th August 2006, 13:23
Ok Not going to say who is the best since I think they are all pretty much the same except for different fittings etc.. There is a couple of makers out there but as far as I know all of them use the same blades except for the Company called Igarashi in Seki city which is only sold by Igarashi in Japan only or by Tozando/Nishijin swordstore under the name Suzaku.

So here is my list of the different makers and basically who sells them in or outside Japan.

Igarashi/Nosyudo in Seki city
Used to be sold by swordstore.com but now only sold in Japan or by Nishijin under the name Suzaku

Minosaka in Seki city
Sold by Tozando, Meirin Sangyo and many other Budo shops usually using the same model name.

Sumita Token in Seki city
Sold by Tozando and Meirin sangyo also. Sumita Token as generic model names that can be seen in Japan at different shops and also internationally on various websites and also will make custom orders in batches for some shops as well that will use different names.

Fujiwara Kanefusa in Seki city.

Used to be sold be Seidokai and other shops in Japan but now seems to have stopped any iaito sales.

So like I said before all of them except Igarashi use the same blades. So basically for the ones who use the same blades they have a light medium and heavy blade and will have some funky stuff like Okissaki/unokubi/double grooves etc…

So when I see the Meirin Sangyo iaito on Bugei’s website at a much higher price than Tozando wich truly sells the same stuff it really makes me wonder if they are really selling any and if they are why would they be selling them at such a high price when they are not any better than Tozando or any other seller that deals with Minosaka or Sumita tokem directly.

Now there seems to be some new players because now there is some configuration colors/fittings/saya that I have not seen before..

Hope this helps a bit to clarify lots of the myths and info already out there.

Steve Botelho
26th August 2006, 13:57
Thank you Sebastian for writing that. It cleared up and confirmed my suspicions on how iaito are made and sold. Thanks again.

26th August 2006, 17:10
Igarashi/Nosyudo in Seki city
Used to be sold by swordstore.com but now only sold in Japan or by Nishijin under the name Suzaku
Last I checked (5 minutes ago), swordstore was still using the Nosyuiaido name and the products they show seem the same as always - has something changed?

26th August 2006, 19:21
Last I checked (5 minutes ago), swordstore was still using the Nosyuiaido name and the products they show seem the same as always - has something changed?

Last I *heard* (so I could be wrong, but it was a good source), Swordstore is now using the same mogito blades as the other suppliers (Merin/SeidoKai/Tozando). The last Iaito that I actually saw from them (roughly two years ago) was still the heavier higher quality (IMHO) nosyu mogito. Fittings by all accounts have remained the same.

Douglas Wylie
26th August 2006, 20:35
Last I *heard* (so I could be wrong, but it was a good source), Swordstore is now using the same mogito blades as the other suppliers (Merin/SeidoKai/Tozando).

I heard the same from a reliable source, too.

26th August 2006, 21:29

Hey all,

Thank you, It seems like Nosyudo, through sword store has a really good rep as well as Tozando...Any body here know any thing about Token-Mino? They look nicely crafted and there Azuka semi- custom comes to the same price as the 1001 Nosudo Iaito I build. Mike

26th August 2006, 22:54
As far as I know there fittings might be the same as before but there blades and hamon are not the same as they used to be giving me the indication that either stopped dealing with Igarashi (Nosyudo) or just decied to change their blades for some odd reason. But from what I remember about 2 years ago one of my students needed a iaito and got me to order for him the top aluminium iaito that they are selling and when we got it 5 things clearly indicated that this was not a Igarashi product. #1 the Hamon was not what was shown on the picture (The picture from the website was still showing the Igarashi Hamon but what he got was the usual sumita token hamon) since then thins have changed and thier pictures as been updated to reflect what they are selling. #2 The blade itself was not the blades Igarashi was using. #3 the tusba was fro some really odd reason a Super extra cheap brass laser cutted (Still showing all the skid marks from the cutting) as far as I know Igarashi never used such cheap tsubas on on their swords. #4 The tsukamaki was far from being as tight and well made as you can see on any Igarashi product from day one we could shift part of the X sections with our fingers (Stuff I have never seen on a Igarashi product). #5 The matching silk sageo was not a sageo at all it was a bulk cutted to required lenght Obijme (Women's Kimono belt fastener that goes on top of the obi) you could clearly tell by the unfinished raw ends and also the braiding type used. I do hope all has been corrected but when we received my student's sword at that time we were truly not impressed. Any way since then I am sure that all as changed since everybody are very happy with what they got.

27th August 2006, 02:23

Do you know who still uses Igarashi blades?

Thank you, Mike

27th August 2006, 03:50
As far as I know Igarashi is only sold by Igarshi or some local sword/budo shops in Japan that will have purchased a batch of premade swords from them. As far as full custom it can only be done by getting it from them in Japan. But since some stuff seems to have happened between them and swordstore.com it seems Igarashi is not allowed to ship oustide of Japan directly. BUT if you want a Igarashi iaito you can always go to the Nishijin website and order a Suzaku iaito. They do not say it is a Igarashi blade and fittings but the pcitures of the hamon and fittings clearly shows that this is a blade coming from Igarashi. But on the Suzaku model you are somehow limited in your choice of parts etc etc... so if you want to go full custom you need to go to Seki and get it there or ask a friend in Japan to buy it for you then ship it to your house HINT!!! HINT!!!! There is nothing wrong or illegal with that.

27th August 2006, 17:39
As so if you want to go full custom you need to go to Seki and get it there or ask a friend in Japan to buy it for you then ship it to your house HINT!!! HINT!!!! There is nothing wrong or illegal with that.

Thank you, I have indeed got one of those over there teaching english as we speak. I appreciate it.
Best regards,


27th August 2006, 23:49
Just received one of Nosyudo's high-end iaito. Great product with a very high attention to detail in the fit and finish. Nicely impressed overall. I've owned several Nosyuiaido iaito, both in the steel and alloy versions. The alloy iaito were 2002 models and not directly comparable to this most recent blade which would be more along the lines of the 4004 model. While I've been very happy with both products, with the options I requested, the equivalent Swordstore offering would have been about $220 more.

Thoma Calabrese
1st September 2006, 15:01
Hi all,

My name is Tom and I work with Swordstore.com. I am by education and vocation an experienced chemist and metallurgist. I would like to clear up some "facts" I believe to be erroneous or misleading that have been posted on this string recently.

1) Mr. Igarashi uses the same vendors and sub-suppliers that provide ALL the sword assemblers except he appears to be involved with an inexpensive blade made outside Japan while marketing it as “made in Japan”. Recently the ZNKR contacted some Japanese makers because of reports of blade failure which have been virtually non-existent on Japanese made iaito throughout the years. My intention however is not to introduce a new topic for discussion but to make it clear that all makers, Igarashi included, share the same iaito blade sources.

2) Hamon are created by buffing the chrome plate outer layer using a template. These templates wear out and must be replaced. As the template wears it gradually changes affecting the character of the hamon. Variations occur based upon the artisan's touch as well so basical ly, hamon changes even within an assemblers shop.

3) The writer is in error stating our tsuba are “Super extra cheap brass laser cutted”. We don't laser cut our tsuba. We never have! Our tsuba are individually cast using the lost wax process and maintain the fine detail of the original tsuba, faults included.

4) Ito is hand wrapped and we use the same folks that we've always worked with. Each blade receives a 31 point QC inspection before shipping. Is our QC perfect? No, but it is a goal. That’s why we have a limited one year warranty.

5) Mr. Cyr is also incorrect about the hand made silk sageo we offer. These are not unfinished as "indicated by the tasseled ends". Nor are these taken from women's obi. Indeed it is a shame that an artisan kumihimo that has been a family national treasure "Dento Kogeishi" for generations should be dismissed so easily. These artisans still have the notes and examples of weaves going back before Heian jidai when sageo and himo tying specifically were considered armor. Past generations of these families were making sageo long before women’s’ kimono fashion actually starting using the kimono obi as we know it today. This is equally true for mass produced sageo specific to the post WWII sword world. We leave the length of these sageo in tassel form so that the client can cut to length. It is considered a proof that the item is hand made. The fibers, the dying of the fibers and the actual weaving is authentic.

6) Our menuki and fuchi/kashira on our #4004 are solid sterling silver, not silver plate. Therefore they cost more and wear better.

Thank you.

T. Calabrese

1st September 2006, 15:31
Hey Buddy!!!

Sorry to be rude here and take out the thrash but I am not in error here. Maybe what they sell now is different than what I got from Swordstore.com BUT what is for damm sure is the fact that on the iaito I got from swordstore.com the following points were wrong.

#1 The hamon was not the hamon the Igarshi is using PERIOD. (Maybe this is now corrected but what I got was not the right thing)

#2 The tsuba WAS a laser cutted darkened brass crappy copy of the Musashino model I aint stupid and dont try to say that this was not what I got at the time. (Maybe this is now corrected but what I got was not the right thing)

#3 I have known Igarashi's product maybe for longer than YOU have been in this business doing iai. Also I have seen and used various iaito made by Igarashi in the old days in and out of Japan and they are susally famous for their Super good tsuka wrapping and for sure the iaito I got at the time was not wrapped by Igarashi and was not as tight as it should have been on their TOP MODEL IAITO!!!!

#4 HEY! COME ON!!!!! Do you know what a Obijime is???? That sageo was clearly a cutted piece of obijime.

And as far as the blades have you been in Seki did you see the shops and do you really know who and what they are suing as blanks for their iaito. Clearly Igarashi uses different blades and finishes them in a different fashion. Including when selecetin the Shinken HI (Goes all the way down the habaki and also has a triangular finish in the kissaki) that by the way was clearly not what I got even if this was what I had ordered all I got was a groove tha went down the habaki with not triangular shaping in the Kissaki.

So before acting as the all mighty representative of Sworsdtore please get your facts straight instead of just coming on here telling me I am wrong some stuff might have changed but nonteless what I got was crap and clealry not resprenstative of what Igarashi is making. That also goes on to say that Swordstore is NOT selling any Igarshi product anymore the blades ARE DIFFERENT no matter what you want to say.

1st September 2006, 17:21
#3 I have known Igarashi's product maybe for longer than YOU have been in this business doing iai.According to your website, you've been practising iai since 1996. Rick's been in business since '91 and on the web since '95. He has many satisfied customers. I don't think it serves anyone to get into a pissing match on the forums.

1st September 2006, 18:21
I totally agree with you on him having lots of satisfied customers. But regardles his iaito are not what he used to sell originally when they came from Igarashi. When he started his business in the USA his sales point was that the Igarashi sword were better and the blades were different than all the other in weigth finish quality etc... etc... and now Mr. Calabrese says that Igarshi uses the same stuff as Minosaka Sumita Token etc....9Implying that in someway what was always said about their swords being better was not real????) I handled new iaito from Igarashi last year and this year in Japan and still their product is not the same as the other iaito makers in blades, tuskamaki and overall fittings and finition(Usually this means more money out of your pocket). Does it mean that they are better?? Well it is for the buyer to decide if he wants to spend more on looks and finish. Other iaito will do just as well on the long run as far as I have seen.

Now does this mean that what Swordstore sells now is bad. My answer is NO! I am just saying that there was a change in who they use to make their iaito and in my opinion it is not worth the price. I guess having my own opinion is ok ?? Is it???

Thoma Calabrese
1st September 2006, 19:10
My name really is Tom, not "Buddy!!!"

You can choose to be rude. I prefer to be correct.... "in Gassho" I guess?

I said that the blades came from the same source. Hamon vary by shop and each within the shop.

The tsuba are not laser cut. I don't have much of an emotional attachment to this. The process was and is lost wax - period.

I'm not going to argue credentials. I will remain within the realm of substance and fact.

Igarashi , an amatuer wrapper himself,usesthe same folks to do his wraps that we use. It is not reasonable to argue that every hand made wrap is as perfect as we would like them to be. Tsuka foundations swell and shrink, glues get applied in various strengths, same swells and shrinks and sometimes the poor itoshi's hands just get tired. It happens and no one is immune.
Happily this is not a common assembler experience.

Throwing around a Japanese word is not the same as having a "content expertise". I know what Obijime (obi tie) is. If you do a bit of research you will find that my original statement is factual and correct in every detail.

Yes, we really know who supplies the blades, does the hibori etc. for every assembler. We did not comment on your "Crap". We have no opinion about your presumptions and opinions.

As you wrote previously, Igarashi doesn't legally sell outside of Japan, does not legally hold the name Nosyuiaido which he changed. The reason as you know is that it is illegal for him to sell outside of Japan even by a "nod and a wink" through any source or agent. Although litigation has been completed in Federal court here additional litigation is being pursued which prevents me from writing more. We are by contract and by service mark Nosyuiaido and we prefer to be known as swordstore.com. Igarashi on the other hand bankrupted Nosyuiaido to avoid creditors, changed his business name, sells under various labels while trying to work within markets that are supposed to be closed to him through due process of law.


1st September 2006, 22:02
well we can leave it at that if you want.

My question to you.

Did you see the sword I got? Probably not.

Do you think I have enough time to waste to go write stuff about a freaking iaito worth around 1200 U.S$ at the time. I know what I received at the time and not to repeat what I already wrote truly what I received had all the wrong points that I mentioned in my previous posts. So you coming in and telling me what I had and what I was saying was not true was like telling me that I am a liar or that I need glasses because I cannot tell the difference between a casted steel or laser cutted tsuba or a Obijime and the looks of a poor wrap job. It was so blatant that the blade and whole package was so bad that I chose not to fight about it at the time(Partly because my mother died in the same weeks and Also for the fact that I could not believe they tried to pull a fast one on me when they told me they had inspected the sword before sending it if they knew I knew the diffrerence between a Igarashi vs brand X product why did they do it?? So all in all I said screw it) but the occasion showed up and I chose to express my discontent. I have a right to do so as a customer we are not in North-Korea as far as I know. Also as far as the court case goes I was never going to flash this one out in order to not spread any un needed mud out. I now know the people of Igarashi very well and have heard their side of the story and will not comment on the situation even if I could I will not take any side on this other than state that the iaito I got was not a Igarashi product as it was told to me when I got my iaito from Swordstore. So if some people are not happy about general public knowing about this remember that you are the one who somehow flashed out the whole legal mess on this one.

and to end it all here put it this way if you had ordered some expensive iaito and got a poor one instead for the same price you would have also all the rights to be peed off. So if I was you I would not fight the battles of Swordstores.com management. Especially when you did not see the sword.

Douglas Wylie
2nd September 2006, 04:21
Hmmm... interesting...

Let me see how this adds up...

Swordstore was supposed to (back in the day, say 2001) use cast iaito blades (which is supposed to be super duper in some way) as opposed to the stamped blades that the competetiors use (which were supposed to be inferior in some way)

Now, if I follow correctly, swordstore is using the same blades as the competetion.

Doesnt it seem a little dishonest to keep that part a secret. People are paying for one thing and they receive something else. I notice the price hasn't dropped.


Is it that there was never any difference between the blades as the swordstore rep is inferring.

I'm trying to work all this out, it seems that somebody has been less than honest no matter what the actual situation is.

One can get an iaito from bogubag.com for $300 delivered, is swordstore.com is selling the same blades with different koshirae for $600? It seems like that is what is going on.

I have a circa 2001 swordstore and had a circa 2004 swordstore. There was such a marked difference that I sold the 2004 model even though it was supposed to be replacing a damaged 2001 model. I quit sending the folks from my dojo to swordstore.

Whats the deal???

Rob Alvelais
2nd September 2006, 23:48
Mr. Calabrese,

If Mr. Cyr received sub-standard product from Swordstore/Nosyu, perhaps you could offer to make it up to him. An exchange, perhaps? Certainly, you must still have the records of the purchase. It would go a long ways towards the general good will towards Swordstore.


Brian Pettett
3rd September 2006, 01:02
I think, at the very least, some photos of the quality issues that were raised could be helpful, even if sent only via PM...

Charles Mahan
6th September 2006, 13:29

I notice one seemingly glaring ommission from your posts, so I will ask outright.

Does Swordstore still carry the swords produced by Igarashi of Nosyudo(formerly Nosyuiaido)? This is where all the Swordstore iaito used to come from. Thus the reason that the www.nosyuiaido.com domain still belongs to Swordstore. It seems a LOT of people are still under the impression that Swordstore is selling Igarashi's products. Or is Swordstore ordering pieces from several different iaito suppliers, many of which are the same suppliers that supply to Igarashi and assembling the final product themselves?

7th September 2006, 15:24
For the ones interested here is the website of Igarashi in Japan.