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I tend to be a bit long-winded by nature so there is a summation(a TL;DR, if you will) at the bottom. Anyway, I needed an affordable iaito for this spring to potentially leave at my main dojo for a few months as I commute to and from the nearby city. Furthermore, in my home dojo I just started using a Nihonto a few weeks ago, looking to keep up a similar feeling I wanted this iaito to be steel. Lastly, I find black katana sleek, clean, and elegant...but also kind of boring. Seeing as this sword would spend a lot of time out of my hands, I wanted it to be on the plainer side when it came to fittings in general. I also wanted a leather ito, as it would bring something different to the table of my current iaito/shinken/Nihonto selection as well as liking the material when I tried out my sensei's Nihonto with leather ito.
So, where are you going to find a quality, steel iaito, with a leather grip, for an affordable price?
Subjective nature of "affordable" aside, this is basically yo...