A flock of birds (muradori) flying away from their nest together in the morning is a symbol of a new start. As evidenced by the sentence "muratori no muradachi inaba (when a flock of birds flies away together)" in the Man'Yoshu, the term "muradori" is used as makura-kotoba for words such as "muratatsu" (a flock is leaving), "asadatsu" (a flock is leaving in the morning), and "tatsu" (leave). Also, birds such as swallows and storks have been regarded as symbols of good fortune by people of all ages and countries. In Japan, bird motifs have been used for textiles and lacquerware.
Birds are the preferred motif for "tosogu" (sword fittings) as well. Birds are also used for the fittings of the famous national treasure, "Gunchomon Hyogogusari no Tachi".
The Good Fortune Bringer
For the fuchigashira, we have used a Chinese phoenix, a legendary holy bird which is supposed to appear in times of good fortune. It is also found on the rooves of Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji, and Byodoin. The tsuba features matsutakazu, which is a combination of a hawk, a symbol of warriors and a pine tree which represents a long life. This combination is shown in the famous fusuma paintings by Kano Tan'yu, who was an artist from Kyoto. For the menuki, we used a couple of grey starlings, which is a symbol of happy marriage and prosperity of descendants. The blade is made with aluminum/zink alloy.
The Muradori Koshirase are handmade in Kyoto. The city is famous for Byodoin and Kinkaku-ji, whose decorations feature a Chinese phoenix, and the Ninomaru Palace of Nijo Castle, where the formal restoration of political authority to the emperor took place, and it comes with a certificate of manufacture which shows "Kyoto Japan" as a guarantee.
What's So Special About Suzaku Iaito
Tozando’s Suzaku series Iaito looks, feels, and weighs the same as a live blade (Shinken). A big feature of our Suzaku blades is that they are not made from the usual sand casting method used for producing most imitation swords. Instead, we adopted a special reinforced GT metal blade made through highly precise gravity casting.
Special Blade Exclusively for Iaido
Special reinforcement GT metal was especially developed for our blades. Not only are they balanced better than diecast blades, they are highly functional and the best quality available for Iaido. This GT metal has a superior tensile strength and elasticity compared to other alloys used for Iaito in the past. The specific gravity of GT metal is also rather light and isn’t susceptible to stress corrosion, so it can be said that it is an alloy that is most suitable for making Iaito.
Adopting the Best Method
For casting the blade we chose to use the gravity casting method, this is because the sandcasting method used by other manufacturers in the past is actually quite unreliable. When sandcasting a blade you pour the molten metal into a cast made with hardened sand, not only does the result of the sandcasting vary slightly each time due to the sand loosing it’s shape, but also as the metal takes longer to cool, it increases the chances of hidden cavities inside the blade, making it prone to producing defects.
Reason for Polishing by Hand
After the blade has been casted, each blade is meticulously hand-polished by our craftsmen. Considering the work efficiency, there might be more effective ways to rapidly polish each blade by machine, however, by polishing each blade by hand our craftsmen can bring out the most of the individual personalities and details of each blade and remove any defective products, leaving only the highest quality blades to be used for making Iaito.
No-nonsense Hi Carving
The Hi-groove that greatly affects the sound and feedback of the Iaito is also carved by hand. One of the big differences between a conventional Iaito blade and the Iaito blade for the Suzaku series is the shape of the hi-groove. Up until now all Iaito blades had a hi-groove that are tapered in both end of the groove to save time during the polishing process. However, no matter which reference book you look in you won’t find any authentic Japanese swords who has a groove with such a shape, so even though it takes more than twice the effort and time, we decided to use a more realistic Marudome Hi-groove with a Shinken Hi for our blade. Among all the available Iaito on the market today only the Suzaku series has this kind of Shinken Hi-groove by default, this might be why the Suzaku Iaito looks and feels like an authentic Japanese sword at first glance, a result of the effort put into making the blade by our craftsmen.
Proudly Made in Kyoto
In this way almost all parts of the Suzaku series Iaito are made in Kyoto, each and every part reflecting the spirit of craftsmanship that Kyoto is known for. As our craftsmen are also highly ranked Iaido practitioners, they do not only look at each sword as craftsmen, but also as Iaido practitioners, ensuring the highest quality by testing each sword before shipping them to the customer. This is why each sword has a serial number carved on the Nakago to ensure the quality of each batch of sword blades, infusing them with the soul and pride of the craftsmen. Even Mr. Kuwano Toshiro who is a well-known master Saya craftsman who have experiences with handling national treasure class swords, praised the Suzaku Iaito, saying that it was "very well done and praiseworthy".
The "Kyoto Japan" Mark is a mark endorsed by the Kyoto Industry Development Consortium and it's given to companies that protects and develops the traditional craftsmanship in Kyoto, domestically and overseas.
As the Suzuku series of Iaito are made in Kyoto, Tozando has been certified to use the "Kyoto Japan" mark with the Suzaku series of Iaito.