A Dojo's Journey Through the Lens of Iaito Orders

Updated: May 31

Today's sharing takes a temporary departure from the usual serious note and looks at the Dojo's journey through the lens of iaito orders, peppered with a dash of humor.



The idea for the project first came about while maintaining iaito order records some years back. However, the dataset was too small back then for any meaningful inference. Also, the project could be an interesting way to bridge traditional art (Iaido) and data science (visualization and analytics), and potentially uncover interesting things. The dataset used spans from 2013 to 2021, and covers those of Nosyudo make. For privacy reasons, all sensitive particulars regarding personal information (i.e. owner name, gender, address) are never captured into the dataset.


Let's begin.


One might wonder what might be the most popular iaito model currently in the Dojo; As of this year, the current iaito total count stands at 39. As illustrated in the donut chart (the pie chart is too overused, so we'll use a donut chart), the majority of owners have the Intermediate model: Chuden-S or Chuden-M (S for silk tsuka ito. M for cotton tsuka ito).



We know the rough order of pricing for iaito (it pays (pun intended) to keep sight of how much we are saving up for), but how might that arrive at the final net pricing (i.e. check-out price)? The box plot above illustrates the distribution of starting price and final nett price per iaito model owned by the Dojo members. There seems to be a consistent pattern between the base price and the overall net price; even with additional customization costs, the starting price is still, in general, a strong influencer on the overall net price for the member's iaito. Are there any other factors that are a strong contributor to the final net price?


The correlation chart above compares all cost components against each other, for all iaito. Highlighted in the red rectangle, the model price, additional costs for specific saya designs, and costs for specific hi designs are the top three contributions to final net pricing. Positive numbers indicate as contributors to the overall price. Anything above 0.6 can be considered a strong contributor.


Focusing only on the majority-owned Chuden-S model, we find that the costs for Postage, Silver koshirae, Saya design, and Blade length are the significant pricing components. Silver koshirae is an alternative to the default Brass koshirae and is a substantial additional cost for Chuden models. The postage fee is a surprise, as the pricing for postage should be relatively stable and consistently on the lower end. We take a closer look later. Let's look at saya designs - any particularly popular ones and what's the cost?


Hmm... from the above count plot, the most common saya designs are generally the classic black or brown lacquer (gloss or matt)(as seen by the numerous dots at price point zero; no additional cost).

On the other end of the price spectrum, the SY-25 slant ray skin design is almost two times the cost of an average saya design. And for good reason: it could be considered a two-in-one saya design. Without going too much into the details, the ray skin requires part of the saya to be removed so that the ray skin can be flushed with the rest of the saya surface. The overall saya is then finished with a dark green lacquer. If we consider broadly just Chuden and Okuden, Okuden owners are more likely to splurge on fancier saya designs. In any case, saya designs, like all other customizations, are purely personal preferences.


So, how does the saya with additional costs measure up against each other? Taking inspiration from the below photo...

We have the radial chart above... If not apparent in the former count plot, Dojo folks typically consider and spend between 5-51k for fancier saya designs.


How have the iaito ownership looked like over the years?

The above bar chart provides an interesting perspective regarding Dojo's journey. From 2013, the ownership was just Chuden (Intermediate). Members then have iaito from other sources and are newly introduced to this particular source. Over the years members slowly gravitate to this make (Nosyudo).

From 2015 onwards, the Dojo membership grew along with new iaito orders. 2018 saw the greatest increase in iaito orders. In that year, new members and some of the current members purchasing new iaitos. It is also from here on that some of the existing members moved on to advanced models, or decided to go for Nosyu make. In hindsight, it might be a good idea to mask owner names (i.e. replace them with anonymous labels to determine ownership patterns, if any). Would the pattern in 2018 repeat? It remains to be seen. A typical iaito lasts 10-15 years, maybe more. There might be also outliers in the sense of avid collectors.

What this chart cannot show though, is inference on membership and attrition rates. Causation is not the same as Correlation.


Last but not least, we look at the postage fees for expedited deliveries, in xkcd style. xkcd style, with its balance of absurdist humor, weird perspectives, and skillful use of white space has a place in the hearts of many. The following chart pays homage to it, with a lesser dose of absurd humor.

Expedited shipping through FedEx is used for deliveries. EMEX has been used one or two times when FedEX is not available under rare circumstances. From the below chart on FedEx postage, the shipping fees have always been very consistent until flights were grounded due to border closures. When limited flights resumed, the delivery backlog under uncertainties of another border closure drove the shipping fees up. It's something unfortunate and beyond our control.



With the current unfortunate state of covid, people are currently staying home unless necessary to go out for essential items. Working hours become inexplicably longer with the blurring of lines between office and home. Managing kids' home-based learning, juggling household chores, and juggling work while ensuring the health and safety of the family is no easy task. Hopefully, Readers find the article an enjoyable/ informative read. Let's continue to look out for one another, stay safe, and stay healthy. Til next time.


The contents expressed herein are solely from the Author. Readers curious in finding out more on code snippets for the plots may access it here.


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