How HIEI Shinais are made
1) Preparing and Pre-sorting of Bamboo:
The bamboos used for HIEI are all from Kyoto. Using the process called "Takeyaki", the color of the Bamboo is changed from green to brown. By exposing the Bamboo under sun light, the material is further changed to an elegant brown color. This process is called "Irodashi", which means bringing out the color. These processes are used to protect it from insects and deterioration.
Then, pre-sorting starts by weight. Usually, if the Bamboo portion is heavier, it is shaved a little thinner to reduce the weight. If the material is lighter, it is used for Dobari shiais.
The following process is called "Sobatori". Both the inner and outer sides of the Bamboo is shaved, in order to maintain the same thickness of each material, using a tool called Tegana.
Usually, it is very difficult to find straight Bamboo. To straighten the Bamboos, they are heated up to make them more flexible, and to carefully correct the asymmetry, by using a tool called "Tameki".
There are 3 types of "Tameki"
- Yoko-Dame: This equipment is used for straightening the waviness of the Bamboo fiber.
- Hira-Dame: This equipment is used for correcting deformation, and also it creates the proper curvature of the Bamboos.
4) Mentori: This is the process to shave the Bamboo to round the edges. During this process, the thickness of the tip and the body is adjusted accordingly. The four bamboo pieces must be shaved with the same angle and shape.
5) Tsukahatsuri: This is the process to thin down the handle part.
6) Aragana: During this process, the inner portion of each material is shaved down and the contours are unified. If the four pieces that attach together does not have the same angle and deepness, the quality of the Shinai will not be as good.
7) Tome: To avoid interlocked grains at knot, the material is trimmed at the knot of the Bamboo.
8) Tame Kaeshi: During the Tame process, the Bamboo that has gone back to its original shape by the elasticity of the bamboo itself, it is corrected once again.
9) Nakaganna: The parts of the attaching four pieces are adjusted by Nakaganna and re-inspection of the areas are conducted.
10) Men no Torinaoshi: Adjusting the edges of the outer sides of the Bamboo is ondone more time. These precise steps are not done by machinery. It is all conducted by visual inspection, by the craftsman's experience.
11) Shiagekanna: The "Shiagekanna" is used to shave off the detailed areas.
12) Yasurigake: The nodes are filed down
13) Hayaki: The areas that have been though the process of "Mentori" will be smoothened.
14) Sandpapering: The Bamboos are polished by using fine sandpaper.
15) Itogake: The four pieces are tied together.
16) Bamboo sawing: The tip and the bottom are sawed to adjust the length of the four pieces.
17) Chigiriire: The chigiri is inserted into each piece in the inside of the handle.
18) Sentan no Yasurigake: The upper tip is rounded by filing the tip of the Bamboo.
19) Tsuka wo shiageru: The Tsuka is completed by using "Tegane" and file.
20) Tsuka no hayaki: The handle is smoothened by the "Hayaki "process.
21) Maruganna: The handle is further smoothed by the "Marunganna".
22) Final Shiage: The bottom of the handle is wrapped by cloth.
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