Shoto is a Japanese word for “short sword” and it’s basically a sword that’s
in between the length of a dagger (or knife) and a full length sword like a katana. In the context of Star Wars, a shoto lightsaber is a shorter lightsaber. Both the blade and hilt itself are a bit shorter than full size lightsabers.
Yoda, probably the most famous shoto lightsaber wielder, uses a smaller lightsaber because he’s a smaller being. Ahsoka Tano is another famous wielder of shoto lightsabers as well.
Some custom lightsaber companies sell shoto lightsabers. Saberforge recently launched a shoto lightsaber line. The hilts are modeled after existing full size hilt, but they’re much shorter–about nine inches long. Similarly, Ultrasabers sells some lightsabers that are basically shoto lightsabers, although the company does not call them that. Ultrasabers’ shorter hilts include the Initiate models and Apprentice models. The Initiate V2 is the shortest, smallest lightsaber that Ultrasabers makes. The length of the Initiate V2 family of sabers (Initiate V2, Initiate LE V2, Dark Initiate V2 and Dark Initiate LE V2) is just under 9 inches. Apprentice V4 hilts are just under 10 inches long, so both are pretty short hilts.
If you’re thinking of purchasing a saber, these shorter hilts are best used as a one-handed saber, a second saber for your non-dominant hand, or as a lightsaber for a child.
Some examples of shoto lightsabers from custom lightsaber companies include:
Saberforge “shoto lightsaber” category
Ultrasabers Apprentice and Initiate lightsabers
Pach Store’s Kyojin “Tiny Giant”