“To give the world the best of our skills”
Be it Mengane forging, Futon stitching, Do-mune fabrication, Lacquer work, Aizome dyeing, Assembling of parts, we have gathered the world`s greatest craftsmen in their craft to realize it.
It is now nearly impossible to look for craftsmen
who does material selection to fabrication all by hand in Japan.
Due to the aging of the craftsmen in the industry,
these traditional crafts are slowly fading into extinction.
KOJIRO CRAFT wishes to pass on the fruits of the craft
through the service we provide.
We hope you would like to experience
the passion of the skills these craftsmen display.
※By pressing the button, it will open up "Hearing Sheet Form".
Basic "Kendo Bogu" factoids
Aizome (Indigo Dye)
Aizome is a traditional dye technique that uses a fermented leaves soaked in water that creates a blue color when it interacts with air. Cotton and leather is then soaked in the dye and then dry repeatedly to the desired color. The process is done by hand or machine. Dyed cotton and leather becomes stronger to wear and tear, and waterproof. Aizome also have an anti-bacterial effect making them perfect kendo equipment due to contact with sweat.
Shikage (dear fur)
Dear fur is used inside the kote near to protect the fist and finger, and it is traditionally used in Tare at Namako (part which protect the hips). Dear Fur has straw like fiber, giving it good ventilation to dry kote and allowing it to compress to absorb impact while keeping it light. There are other modern materials that can be used to replace dear fur in Kote such as Synthetic cotton (polyester) which have better elasticity than dear fur, however it comes at the cost of bad ventilation and its tendency to become unbalance by clustering together in area that does not receive repeated blows making practitioner painful in the long run. Non-Japan made bogu tend to use this as main material for kote. It molds to the shape of the user’s hand as time passed by, giving a comfortable use for the user.
Shikagawa (dear skin)
Dear Skin is widely used in Kendo equipment. There are 3 different types, white, brown and blue. White and brown dear skin is used in Kote at the palm area. The brown and blue dear skin is also use at the tsukidare back and front part respectively. The blue dear skin on the other is used predominantly on Kote near the fist area, and menboshi or men cover to give extra protection from wear and tear form repeated strike. It is rarely used for do. There are two version of each types, Koto and chuto. Koto is made from wild deer, small in size but thicker than chuto. Chuto is made from domesticated deer, larger in size compared to koto. Hence, Koto is slightly durable compared to Chuto. Each is used depending on situation, tsukidare uses Koto, while chuto is used for kote and men. Deerskin has many tiny holes making it dry quicker, and becomes flexible if massaged properly. Deer skin becomes difficult to harden and stronger when it is cured with smoked.
Kigawa (raw hide)
Kigawa is raw cow hide and it is used wide in places where durability against wear and tear is required. Hence, it is used for the outer rim of men, the chinplace (tsukdare) and do dai (do/body plate). Cow skin is divided into two, gingawa and toko. Gingawa is the top part of the cow hide, and usually the kigawa used for men, tsukidare and do are gingawa for its durability. Kigawa is very hard, it becomes soft when it is moist. A lot of process done to make bogu is done when the kigawa is soft. Until now there is yet any synthetic material that can replace kigawa for bogu.
Kurozangawa is a leather that went to tanning process, then massaged to give it unevenly texture and finally lacquered to give it its black color. This can be hand-pressed or machine pressed. This is used on do mune (breast protector) and used occasionally on tsukidare. It is usually made from gingawa with a small number made from toko. Toko is made from the lower part of the cow hide, hence, making it less durable. It is usually used in do for cheaper cost without sacrificing too much safety. However, currently gingawa is the main material used. It is both solid and flexible at the same time and it has beautiful texture and glow.
Wata is used widely in futon (quilt) part of men, kote and tare. Its fiber is highly soft, flexible and elastic. It is a perfect material for bogu. It uses its elasticity to absorb incoming strikes. It has a synthetic cotton counterpart made by polyester.
High absorption Felt
High absorption Felt is synthetic material (polyester) to replace natural felt made from sheep’s wool. It is highly elastic allowing it to absorb and protect user from strong blows. It allows bogu to be made with less number of layers, hence, making it perfect for machine stitched bogu. To further increase it ability, it is usually used together pure wool blanket call Moufuu to give better elasticity and shape to fit the user. This allow bogu maker to keep the price down while maintaining quality and protection.
毛氈(mosen) (carpet, rug, felt) – wool
Mosen is natural felt made pressing multiple layers of wool one on top the other hand pressed. This creates a natural air pocket in between layers which gives it elasticity to absorb incoming shinai blows. It performs far better than its synthetic counterpart, however, it’s slightly more expensive to compare too. Mosen is far lighter, and due to its price is used mainly in handstitched bogu. Handstitched bogu allows flexibility in increasing the number of layers of material used, hence, handstitched bogu comes with better added protection due to use of mosen, and higher number of layer mosen is used to pure wool blanket.
毛布 (blanket) – wool
Pure wool blanket is generally a large piece of woven cloth used in bogu for its breathability, elasticity and thickness.
The number of Bu
Handstitched bogu is differentiated by the distance of each stitch. Traditionally, it is believed that smaller bu gives better protection and gives out this exquisite atmosphere. However, lately there is a paradigm shift among makers and users that the number of bu trades off with safety and ease of movement. Currently 1.5bu to 2.5bu offers optimal protection and ease of movement. While, 3 bu is best for beginner because it allows better movement compared to 2.5 bu below while keeping its price low. 1.5 bu below on the other hand looks beautiful but, it is difficult to move in and painful when used to receive blows.
Stitching distance (mm) – machine
Machine stitches uses mm unit to define the distance between stitches. There are 10 mm, 8 mm, 6mm, 5 mm and sub-5mm. However, sub-5mm is not needed because it is causes the futon to be very hard, and painful when hit. For machine stitch, distance between stitches doesn’t matter as much as handmade, its thickness is far more important. Machine stitch tend to have limitation to number of layers and thickness it can be made, hence, when choosing machine stitches it’s better to focus on thickness than stitching distance. In Yamato budogu uses its stitch design to overcome limitation provided by machine stitch to obtain better elasticity, thickness and protection. It also looks beautiful.
It is a synthetic leather that highly durable against wear & tear, absorbs sweats, dries easily, and anti-smell. Currently a popular material used in palm part of kote, and other place easily bruised by wear & tear.
Do dai (Do/ body plate)
Do dai is divided into two types depending whether it is machine-made or handmade. Handmade do dai is made out of bamboo that is cut into smaller number of slabs and tide up to create a curvature shape to protect user from blows. Their grade is determined by the number bamboo slab on the do. They are 43 slabs, 50 slabs, 60 slabs, and 64 slabs. The higher the number of slab the better it is to disperse incoming blows. Machine-made bogu uses synthetic material such as plastic and fiber. Both are model after bamboo do dai with 50 slabs type and 60 slabs type. Fiber is said to be good for the environment.
Do mune kazari (=Type and name and lait motive)
Itto mune 一等胸/Sangai matsu 三階松/Honkumo本雲
Shokkou gata 蜀江
Inawara – rice straw
Rice straw is used to cover the mengane (metal part of the head protector) when assembling it with the men futon (men cover). Inawara is used because it acts as good cushion and shock absorber. It is soft enough for needles to go through to allow stitching, strong enough against wear and tear, and even sweat. It provides a good base for the men, and it doesn’t rot easily. There is no synthetic replacement for it yet.