As promised, here are the details for my iaito…..
The distinctive curved blade of the Japanese sword with a nice Hi (groove).
The Hamon (blade pattern. The line at the cutting edge of the sword created by the hardening process during the making of the blade) is Yamato/Yamashiro styled suguha (straight) hamon.
Boshi kissaki no yakiba:
This might be an iaito (practice sword), the kissaki (point/tip) is still quite sharp.
The metal collar that keeps the sword from falling out of the saya (scabbard) and holds the tsuba (hand guard) in place. Mine is in shiny gold
The hand guard. The variations found for this particular piece of sword fitting is astounding. From very simple shapes and design (like mine) to very very intricate collector’s art pieces. Designs/patterns are usually inspired by folk tales, historical events, religion, heraldry, nature, and the works of the greatest Chinese and Japanese painters.
On to the details for mine….
Shape: Mokko – four lobed and derive their name from the cross section of the tree melon.
Rim: Maru mimi– rounded flat edge.
Openings: Kozuka bitsu (semicircular opening for a utility knife ) and kogai bitsu (trefoil opening for a skewer) at both sides of the nakago (central opening for the blade) when the tsuba is mounted on a wakizashi (short sword).
Udenuki-ana (the 2 circular openings at the bottom) represent the sun and moon and were likely used for threading a leather wrist thong to prevent dropping the sword in battle.
Theme: After quite a bit of searching online, I could not find the exact meaning/theme for this particular design but managed to gather various bits of information floating around. This design would be an In-sukashi (negative silhouette) of either the sun or the moon. Some believe that it could be a droplet of water but would unlikely to be that here all on its own with no other elements to support it. Personally, I’d like to believe that it’s the representation of the Moon, because of the link with the Menuki (which will be explained just below this) and just because I like what the moon represents. 🙂
Sword fittings, a set of 2 decorative elements on the tsuka (sword hilt), traditionally to secure the blade and improve the grip. Delicately fashioned flowers, animals and mythological figures were common motifs, signifying something about or for the owner.
My Menuki is a reproduction of the Tsuki No Usagi (Rabbit on the Moon, 18th- 19th century Edo period).
“A rabbit or hare with a body as full and round as the moon itself. Its significance might have been tied to the fact that the rabbit is one of the twelve animal symbols in the Asian zodiac. According to traditional belief, a samurai born in the year of the rabbit would enjoy longevity, courage and strength. Such character traits might also be found within folk tales, one of which tells of a rabbit who lived with two companions, a monkey and a fox. When a hungry visitor stops at their doorstep, the monkey gathers fruit and the fox catches a fish to feed the old man. The rabbit, embarrassed that he has nothing to add to the meal, throws himself upon the fire. This unselfish sacrifice impresses the old man — who is, of course, a mighty god traveling in disguise. The god quickly gathers the rabbit from the fire and installs him on the moon. “
Handle collar and cap. Information for this design was even harder to find! But with a load of patience, I managed to bump into a very similar design on a kogai (skewer… see above, tsuba), a design favoured by Goto Sojo (1461-1538).
“The playful theme is described as Enokoro no Zugara . The puppy/dog has his paw on a long string that is attached at the other end to a awabi (abalone) shell which represents a food bowl. The motif looks like the dog is playing with his food bowl which is attached to a lead or rope…. The combination of them is thought to be a design to invite happiness.”
My gushing about my iaito is now complete. Think I can hear a chorus of snores at the background by non-sword-buffs who have unfortunately happened into this post.
For those who were wondering, I go to Aikido of London for my classes. Any Londoners/London-visitors interested in joining either Aikido or Iaido?