Kyo Yumi: The art of making Kyoto bows

2010-01-27 09:06 BJT


To Japan, where bows made in Kyoto are known as Kyo Yumi. They are famous for their strength, resilience and elegance. 250 years ago, there were around 50 bow makers working in the Gokomachi area of Kyoto city, producing bows for samurai and the nobility. There is now only one such household in Kyoto and it belongs to Shibata Kanjuro.

Kyo Yumi or Kyoto Bows differ from other forms of bows made in Japan in shape and especially in the material they are made of.

The area's high humidity and extremes in temperature produce a variety of bamboo that is small in circumference but has a highly dense fibre.

Shibata Kanjuro, bow maker in Kyoto, said, "From our perspective this makes for an extremely difficult material to work with. However, this hard, resilient bamboo is ideally suited to be part of the mechanism of a bow. So at first glance, Kyoto bows have a slender, feminine quality, but if you actually hold one and bend the bow string you realize how formidable and strong Kyoto Bows are."

Kyo Yumi or Kyoto Bows differ from other forms of bows made in Japan in shape and especially in the material they are made of.
Kyo Yumi or Kyoto Bows differ from other forms of bows made in Japan in shape
and especially in the material they are made of.(Photo:

The Kanjuro craftsmen have made bows for the Japanese imperial household for over four centuries. Their craftsmanship and reputation remain undiminished and to many of Japan's 430,000 Kyoto archery practitioners, a Shibata Kanjuro bow is still the bow of choice.

Shibata's son Munehiro has worked with his father for as long as he can remember. Now at the age of 26, he is in the 3rd year of his formal apprenticeship.

When his father retires, Munehiro will inherit his name and become the 22nd Kanjuro to head the household.


Editor: Liu Fang | Source: