The Samekawa or "shark skin" is the part under the Tsukaito. Despite being called a "samekawa", and because shark hunting isn't really a thing nowadays, stingray skin is used instead. Its main purpose is to keep the Tsukaito in place and to reinforce the Tsuka structure. The same is sanded and polished in order to produce a durable high quality type of leather.
On live blades (Shinken) mount, the Same is a "maki same", wrapper around the Tsuka wood. However, for cost reasons, Iaito Tsuka are made with two rectangular pieces of same embedded in the Tsuka. This is called Tanzaku-same.
Tanzaku-same exists in two different quality. The standard one, which is a piece of lower grade skin, and the high quality one, which is a piece of higher grade skin that contains an "Oyatsubu" (Navel Knot). Since there's only one navel knot (which is actually located on the spine of the stingray) per stingray skin, this is the most prised and expensive part of the skin.
The Hara-awasegise, or Makisame, is a large piece of stingray skin wrapper around the Tsuka. It makes the Tsuka slightly bigger, but more importantly, very strongly reinforce the Tsuka structure and offers a much better grip to the Tsukaito for maximum durability. The Makisame option is made the exact same way Shinken same are made.
The same color is usually white, sometimes black, and more rarely wine-reddish (Anshu).
The Anshu Togidashi option is a classic Anshu (red) finished same that is topped with black lacquer, then polished in order to remove some of the red and black lacquer from the surface. It gives a white/red contrast.
For the Jidai option, the beige color comes from a natural dye that is obtained by mixing different plants. The color evolves with time, giving more personality to the same.
The Anshu Togidashi and Jidai options are not made at the Jisei workshop, but outsourced to a specialized craftsman.
Please note that we also provide a plastic same option for customers concerned about animal protection. The plastic same is only available in white and in black.