View Full Version : purchasing first iaito

22nd March 2009, 04:52
Hello, I am preparing to purchase my first iaito and at the recommendation of one of my Sensei's he suggested i should look at



or ebogu.com

Does anyone have any stories of quality / problems with swords from any of those sites or perhaps a suggestion to other stores?

An additional question, I tried to do some research on the internet but found very limited information in regards to the difference of a "jidai" vs a "higo" sword.


Brian Owens
22nd March 2009, 07:12
I've delt with both SwordStore and E-Bogu in the past. I had excellent service from both.

I've never used Aoi Budogu, but I've heard complaints recently of long delays in fulfilling orders.

Jidai koshirai iaito generally have simple fittings notable for a "bottle cap" type kashira (butt cap). Also they typically have a tsuka (hilt) that is slightly wider at the butt end than in the middle. This makes for a grip that's less likely to slip in one's hand if the tenouchi is less than ideal. For this reason many teachers like jidai koshirai especially for beginners.

Higo koshirae are noted for more, and more-stylized, metal fittings, and are characterized by a rounded kashira, and often a more symetrical tsuka. (In the fuedal era, Higo Province was a center of metalurgical craftsmanship of a high order.)

I would definitely ask your sensei if he or she has a preference for koshirai style. If not, then it's more about your personal aesthetic sense combined with the price range you're working in.


22nd March 2009, 20:52
Ah I see! Thank you very much I will indeed ask my Sensei on the preference of style. :)

24th March 2009, 01:13
you might look at Tozando.com and Nishijin.com . Both have lots of choices, some good pics to help distinguish style differences, and they usually have some stuff on sale.


26th March 2009, 20:48
Best advice is to ring them up and see what is in stock in the length you are looking for... that way the uncertainty of 'do they have it or not' is gone, you can get a bit more advice on what fittings they have etc...

All have good swords, just depends on what is in stock.

My last sword....
I wanted - brown saya/tsuka ito. plain tsuba, no pierced holes. fish type menuki.
I got - green saya/ ito. pierced tsuba. flowers.:D It does have a lovely balance though!

Even better advice is to go to a taikai in Japan (say the Kyoto taikai in May), have a look around the stalls, and pick from a vast range of swords. As a bonus you get to watch some really classy swordsmen! Now all you have to do is convince your wife this is a good idea...:laugh:

26th March 2009, 21:06
Lots of people have been having trouble getting iaito delivered on time lately, especially from AOI. This is for custom iaito, ie if it has to be made and shipped from Japan. My advice is to get something that is in stock, even if the fittings or colour aren't exactly what you want.

Another supplier that hasn't been mentioned yet is SDK Supplies (http://sdksupplies.netfirms.com/cat_iaito.htm). They also sell steel iaito (http://sdksupplies.netfirms.com/cat_steelmogito.html).

27th March 2009, 02:56
Brian, as this your very first iaito, my recommendation is to buy one that suits you as far as length & balance, & not worry much at all about how pretty it looks. It's a training device, after all, & likely one that you'll outgrow as you progress.

I went the same route that Chikodan recommended somewhat in jest, & bought a nice custom iaito as my first katana. I'll admit that I still use it on occasion, but I've progressed over the years to a longer nagasa & nakago, a totally different tsuba style, & an overall balance that is considerably different than when I started. I rather expect you'll do the same.

It'll help a lot if you can handle the iaito before you buy it, Brian, especially if you have a knowledgeable friend along. Right now, without any training or experience, about all you can do is hold it & see if it seems too point-heavy, or overall too heavy to swing. Good luck! :D

27th March 2009, 21:00
I just wanted to thank everyone for their help. I spent several hours a day through all of last week looked through all the suggested websites and options as well as speaking to my Sensei's and doing research. I am now in the ordering process of a swordstore 2002 iaito (I spoke to Rick Polland of the site, who was very knowledgeable and helpful) and will let everyone know how that turns out when it arrives.

28th March 2009, 12:48
we will expect pictures....everyone likes to go shopping for swords, or at least look at what you got!:D

I picked one up for a student on my last visit from the Kyoto taikai...by the time we finished, we were in a group of about ten people stood behind one of the stalls trying out a few different ones we liked and discussing the merits of each. The guy got an absolute bargain, as our japanese buddies then went into 'negotiating mode' for us (obviously something they enjoy) and got 30% knocked off the price! I felt almost sorry for the shopkeeper having to argue with five 7dan+ who were all carrying swords!:laugh:

28th March 2009, 13:48
I've never used Aoi Budogu, but I've heard complaints recently of long delays in fulfilling orders.
I ordered the "Specialized Jidai Koshirae" from their custom series a couple of years ago. An excellent sword alltough a bit light. No problems what so ever with delivery and it actually showed a little ahead of the three to six months advertised.

Last year, in mid June, I ordered a iaito from the "Selected Series" which was supposed to be shipped in about two months. I am still waiting. So I would not recommend ordering anything from them until they have sorted out their backlog with the Japanese suppliers.