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Edo Wazao
(Bamboo Fishing Rods)

20 Edo Wazao (Bamboo Fishing Rods)
Main Areas of Manufacture
Taito Ward, Katsushika Ward, Arakawa Ward
Designation/Certification Dates
November 1st, 1984 (Tokyo Certification)
May 20th, 1991 (National Certification)
Traditional Technologies and Techniques
  1. The cutting of bamboo staves and the constructing of Edo Wazao (bamboo fishing rods) occurs in accordance with the type of rod the craftsman has in mind. After issues such as rod length and format have been settled, the craftsman selects the appropriate bamboo and staves are cut from it.
  2. The process of bamboo heating (straightening) involves passing the material through a flame, removing oil from the cane, and making it pliant and straight.
  3. Fitting together the sections of a rod created from bamboo staves involves finishing the spigot joints to ensure there is no play in them. There are two types of joints used in Wazao, ferrule joints and telescopic joints.
  4. Urushi (lacquering) is done using refined lacquer.
Traditionally Used Raw Materials
Bamboo
The twine used at the mouth of spigot joints is silk thread.
Natural lacquer is used for lacquering.
History and Characteristics

When it comes to traditional Japanese bamboo fishing rods, there are those made from a single piece of bamboo (called nobezao in Japanese), and those constructed by connecting together by spigot joints sections originating from numerous bamboo staves (called tsugizao in Japanese). According to oral history, it is said that “at the end of the Heian Period, in the fourth year of the Jisho Era (1180), tsugizao were developed in Kyoto”. However, there is no documentary evidence to support this claim.

Then again, with regard to Kyoto being the supposed birthplace of tsugizao, in a haiku poetry commentary published in the early Edo Period in the third year of the Enpo Era (1675), there is reference to a bamboo fishing rod called an irekozao.

Meanwhile, the birth of the tsugizao in Edo is believed to have occurred during the Kyoho Era (1718-1735) somewhat later than in Kyoto. It is often said that a shop called “Taichiyatosaku” (established in the eighth year of the Tenmei Era (1788)), made significant contributions to the techniques employed when manufacturing bamboo fishing rods.

As an aside, if the backgrounds of current Edo Wazao (bamboo fishing rod) craftsmen are investigated, most can trace their roots back to the first generation of “Taichiyatosaku” craftsmen. In terms of what Edo Wazao (bamboo fishing rods) actually are, the term describes a single fishing rod constructed from a number of staves of different bamboo varieties (golden bamboo, arrow bamboo, black bamboo, timber bamboo). This is what is called a tsugizao.

The making of Edo Wazao commences with the selection of bamboo staves. Craftsmen visit forests themselves and scrutinize each bamboo pole individually. It is said that maybe among 100 bamboo poles, there are perhaps only one or two specimens whose good quality makes them suitable for Edo Wazao. After the bamboo poles have been selected, they are cut down and allowed to dry out naturally for approximately one month. In order to bring out the qualities of a single rod constructed from golden bamboo, arrow bamboo, black bamboo, and timber bamboo staves; having a kirikumi (a plan for cutting and combining the staves) is perhaps the most important factor. Bamboo selections are made in order to create a rod that is easy to use, it being optimized to the type of fish to be caught, the style of fishing, the fishing location, and the fishing conditions.

Contact Details
Manufacturing Area
Cooperative Name
Edo Wazao Manufacturing Cooperative Association
Addressc/o Saochu, 5-11-14 Minamisenju, Arakawa Ward, Tokyo 116-0003
Telephone No.03 (3803) 1893
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