Mr. Shinichi Sugiyama is an arrow maker at Sugiyama Masamune Kyugu who makes arrows used in Kyudo (Japanese Archery). At present he runs Sugiyama Masamune Kyugu with his son.
Arrows have been used for hunting since Palaeolithic times. During the Kamakura Period (1185-1333) arrows were used in battle, but after the introduction of guns they came into disuse. After that, Kyudo was established as a means to discipline both mind and body. In the postwar period, the number of people participating in Kyudo as a sport or hobby has increased. Now it has also been firmly established as a school sport for children.
Recently, we have seen the appearance of many durable arrows made with metals, such as carbon and duralumin, and turkey feathers being used by students.
“Kyudo has been established as a popular sport and many people have the impression of bows and arrows being made by craftsmen who have handed down the family business for many generations. As for myself, I inherited from my father who was also an arrow maker, and now my son is also working with me as a craftsman. Nowadays, the number of durable arrows that are made with inexpensive metals is increasing, but for people who prefer the real thing bamboo arrows are more desirable.” Mr. Shinichi Sugiyama said.
The process of making bamboo arrows begins with cutting the bamboo and allowing it to dry, then matching the length evenly. Next, the bamboo is fired to make it straight and the weight of the arrow is adjusted by adding weights inside the bamboo. It’s important to match the weight and balance of the arrows to the person who will be using them. After that, a fastener called ‘Hazu’ is attached at the end and hawk and eagle feathers are fixed into place with silk thread.
When a customer places an order for bamboo arrows Mr. Shinichi Sugiyama measures the customer’s arm length and makes arrows of suitable length and weight to perfectly fit that customer’s physique.
In general, arrows are made in sets of 4; all matched exquisitely in length and weight.
Using a special iron pot the bamboo is fired and a tool called ‘Tameki’ is used to ensure the arrow is completely straight.
A typical order takes roughly one month to complete.
Arrows are not expendable goods so they should be maintained and used with great care. Mr. Shinichi Sugiyama receives many orders for maintenance from customers just before important competitions and many customers who wish to have their arrows professionally maintained annually.
Amongst his customers there are even some foreigners who leave their arrows with him when they travel to Japan and pick them up on their next trip.
Sugiyama Masamune Kyugu
Address: (Tokyo) Taito, Higashi Ueno 3-1-1
Hours: Mon – Sat 9am – 7pm, Sun and National Holidays 9am – 6pm