Ito – Wrapping of a Samurai Sword
Ito is commonly referred to as Tsuka-Ito which simply means handle wrapping or handle cord. Its main purpose is both aesthetic and functional. Katana Ito reinforces the tsuka and prevents techanical failure when using the sword. Hishigame is an important part of the Ito. This plays a good role by lifting towards the turns and makes it even. This will tighten the entire sword making process. This is made of rice paper not the literally from rice but, are made of fibers from honoki or magnolia. The use of strong tapes will hold the ito in place even without using clamps. Tsunami Katana Ito is one of the traditional old style silk cords. Leather cords are referred to as Tsuka Ito. Leather cords are considered to be the finest because it is non-stretch. This means there will be no stretching that resembles a rubber band. When it loosens this way this is not made of fine leather. Some materials used are silk which is available in limited colors only.
This is more than a decorative feature in a Katana. Here are some of its features and the materials use for this kind of cord:
Cotton. This Katana Ito material is affordable. It is both absorbent and durable but, not as highly durable as synthetic leather
Leather. This material has a natural feel and also offers the durability as cotton
Silk. This has a smooth feel and is highly durable. It is expensive than other materials and can be found in traditionally made Tsuka Ito if its at least 10 mm. For those with 8mm these are advisable to use in Katana or Wakizashi. For silk that are 6mm in length are better for Tanto and wakizashi. For those who are 4mm long at Tanto Tsuka. Sazanami style silk which is 10mm wide is good for Katana Tsuka. Cotton in 8mm length is better for wakizashi tsuka. Leather tsukagawa cord can be another alternative
Suede. This has a positive grip and is as durable as cotton and leather
Synthetic Leather. This is low cost and the material feels smooth. It is not slippery and is highly durable
Synthetic Suede. This allows the sword owner to grip the sword expertly and has the same durability as cotton and leather
Chemical Fiber. Modern swords sometimes use this material as Katana ito
Cotton has the disadvantage of being easily discolored and grubby due to regular wear and tear. Use clean hands because any dirt from sweat, blood and grime can get imbedded in the Ito over time. This means it will lose its patina. A smart looking sword with great parts will not look the same way in the future without proper maintenance. In the long run, a simple problem like this can destroy even a highly treasured sword. Leather made rarely needs cleaning. A simply wiping using a damp cloth or cleaner can get the job done. Using warm water with mild detergent and a toothbrush will clean leather made ito. Never use the radiator to dry this up because only one side gets dry.