of wood tools to straighten bamboo for rod making. My rod making teacher taught me how to make these today: we sat ever deeper in wood chips and shavings and worked all day till the whole set was done. The process requires fire, hammering, sawing, chiselling, rasping and planing, but above all a mixture of blood, sweat and tears – especially the first two. My teacher said “I won’t have you cutting yourself here, do you understand” and proceeded straight away to cut himself on the hand twice with a saw; I managed to cut myself just once with a knife between my thumb and forefinger, but made up for it with a great blood-blister on the pad of my thumb which burst about halfway through the day and made holding anything with my left hand agony. With the wooden tools baptised with our various precious bodily fluids, we were done by about 5pm. A long day, but worthwhile: I have the full set of bamboo “straighteners” now, so that I can make everything from tanago rods to the largest and heaviest rods for sea-fishing.
The only wood really hard enough for these is mountain-breed sakura: it is the hardness of the wood that makes their manufacture so energy-consuming. Of course like all other traditional Japanese rod making, we used no electricity in the process (apart from the vacuum cleaner for tidying up afterwards) and so everything is done with human muscle alone. Unfortunately I didn’t have the presence of mind to keep some of the chips for wood-smoking; I was exhausted, and could think only of a cold beer and some supper by the time we had finished, a hope suitably fulfilled at my local Indian restaurant before Typhoon Jelawat hits Tokyo proper.