Kishu fishing rod makes the most of bamboo characteristics


Kishu fishing rod, a traditional Japanese fishing rod

Kishu fishing rod is a fishing rod made for the purpose of catching Herabuna. It is mainly produced in Hashimoto City, Wakayama Prefecture, and Kutoyama-cho, Itsu-gun, Wakayama Prefecture. This kind of fish lives in rivers, ponds, and lakes throughout Japan, and many anglers are fond of them because of their high degree of difficulty. Anglers have devised bait and floatation devices to enjoy fishing for herabuna, and have finally perfected the “Kishu fishing-rod”.

Natural bamboo is used as the material for the rod, which is carefully selected from tin bamboo, madake (madake), and yatake (arrow bamboo) cut and dried between October and December. From the cutting process to the finishing touches, the work is done by hand by a single craftsman (polemaker). Koya bamboo has a moderate firmness, and when combined with bamboo for the tip, it produces a rod that will make anglers wow. Therefore, it can take six months to a year to complete a single rod. Kishu spatula rods are characterized by their strength, which prevents easy breakage, and their beautiful decorations. The easy-to-grip grip is also loved by many anglers, and in 2013 it was designated a Japanese traditional craft by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Kishu fishing rod also has an artistic side

Kishu spatula rods are characterized by the combination of ma-dake, koya bamboo, and arrow bamboo, as well as the decoration on the handle. The decorative handles are the part of the pole where the pole maker’s individual characteristics are expressed. The pole is made unique by using traditional decorative techniques such as “maki-e,” in which lacquer and maki-e powder (or sometimes gold leaf) are used to decorate the handle, and “raden,” in which the inside of a seashell or the material of a pearl oyster is inlaid into the lacquer base.

Production Process

1. Drying raw bamboo

Three types of bamboo are required for the Kishu Hera Pole: Koya bamboo, madake bamboo, and arrow bamboo. bamboo cut from October to December is dried in the sun until the end of April, when it is less susceptible to mold and insects, and stored in a well-ventilated room where it is carefully selected for use. Some poles are created after three years of dry storage. Koya bamboo, in particular, has a stain on its surface when dried, which is called a “crest” and is cherished.

2. Fabric assembly

Starting from the tip of the rod, madake bamboo, which is suitable for bamboo crafts due to its elasticity, is used for the “spearhead,” Koya bamboo, which has a thicker wall and springiness, and arrow bamboo, which is also used to make Japanese bows, is used for the “samban” and “moto” parts. The “sanban” or “moto” is made of arrow bamboo, which is used to make Japanese bows. He also looks at the compatibility of the bamboos when they are combined. Since natural bamboo is used, a keen eye for materials is necessary.

3. Fire heating

Bamboo is straightened by passing the bamboo through the slits in the “tamegi” while burning it over a charcoal fire, which uses far-infrared rays to heat the inside of the bamboo. The hamegoki is made of hard materials such as oak, cherry, and chestnut. The process is repeated three or four times to increase the resilience of the bamboo, which is an important step that requires skilled craftsmanship.

4. Removing the middle

When not in use, the compact Kishu fishing rods are “nama-jointed” and can be 2 to 6 meters long when extended. The straightened bamboo is cut at the top and bottom so that it can be stored, and the joints are removed with a long drill so that the “tip” and “waiting for the tip” are placed inside the “third” and “first” joints.

5. Komi shaving

The “bamboo butt” at the joint of the rod is filed to make it tapered, called taper. The bamboo also needs to be shaved round.

6. Silk thread winding

The joint at the end of the rod is called “tamaguchi,” and silk thread is wrapped around it to reinforce the rod against splitting lengthwise.

7. Lacquering

Lacquer is applied over the “tamaguchi,” which is wrapped with silk thread, and the process of polishing with water paper is repeated to strengthen the rod.

8. Inserting

A hole is drilled in the “tamakuchi” of the bamboo tip to match the tapering of the “bamboo butt” at the joint. The skill of the rod maker is required to ensure that the bamboo does not become stuck or pull out easily.

9. Grip

The grip of the fisherman is made of Japanese paper and thread. Some rods use beautiful craft techniques such as mother-of-pearl inlay, in which a thin layer of iridescent pearl inside a shell is cut and inlaid into a lacquer ground, or maki-e, in which gold or silver powder is applied to a lacquer ground. Since this is the part of the rod where the rod maker’s characteristics are most evident, he or she will elaborately design the rod by applying colored lacquer or other techniques.

10. Shaving the tip of the ear

The tip of the rod is made by splitting a thin piece of Madake bamboo of at least 10 cm in diameter and at least 5 years old, pasting it together, and shaving it into a thin, round shape. Using a blade and file, the tip is sharpened down to 1mm, a delicate process that is said to require the most skillful technique.

11. Body lacquering (body wiping)

The entire rod is lacquered with the fingers, allowed to dry, and then polished repeatedly to add luster and reinforcement. The process of applying lacquer, wiping it off, and letting it dry is repetitive and time-consuming. Lacquer also has a tendency to cause a rash, so patience and skill are required to create a beautiful finish.

12. Finishing

After connecting the rods, the pole makers take great care to fine-tune the rods by fire-quenching them to the satisfaction of the angler. The pole is finished by placing the pole name in a pole bag.

Kishu fishing rod
Source: Mono-zukuri wakayama

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