TENDER is the bamboo creel which have accompanied as a partner with so many fishers in the mountains streams all over Japan.
About ten yeas ago, in the show case of inner place of fishing tackle shopIt was existing as if it is waiting for wind moving over the mountain creeks.
I was a little surprise when I knew its price at first. But it caught my eyes on thick and powerful bamboo stems, copper nails, grain of cedar wood, atmosphere of brass materials.
Though it used antique like materials, I felt well considered modern cense. The impression of the creel was strongly braided in my threads of memory.
Mr. Sadayoshi Hata, the originator, had long worked on manufacturing locomotion at the development department of ex Japan Railway. After the world war II, he started the business of manufacturing mimeograph printing machine. TENDER style printing machine was the state of art manual printer which was possible to make copies 3,000 copies per an hour. In TENDER creel, all his comprehensive experience and knowledge is implemented such as metallurgy, sheet meal, casting, forging, wood and bamboo craft, metal works, resin, materials, process management, shape of products (design), etc.. in addition to the opinion as an old and experienced mountain fisher. All the parts were manufactured by his hands from coil springs to hinges. I sometimes thought that the existing general use parts would do, but I knew later that there are rational reasons which are different from merely sticking of Mr. Hata. Every time I ask, this old masterpiece told me why. "If you merely want to keep fishes, anything like a bag can be used. For a live fish, there is no good material other than bamboo." Spending more than 30 years plus, its looks is not changed but something was enhanced every year. Every user can realize the personality of the maker by using this real creel. Every time I go fishing, I realize that there is no such tool on which I can feel about the will or intention of its maker, then I feel more attachment to this creel.
TENDER is also considering the safety of fishers. "What will happen when the edge of creel sticks to the corner of rocks and the fisher loses his balance? Making creel means same to being asked to keep the safety of the fisher's life." Mr. Hata says definitely. TENDER has rather tough elasticity so that it works as cushion to protect the fisher from wounded when the fisher slips down. For the purpose, every corner is finished round though entire shape is square, outer surface is smoothed and the fisher's side is slightly curved in order to go along with the body shape of the fisher. Every part has slightly different R's. By fitting with body, you might not feel like you may not have it with you as it does not move around when fishing nor it does not become an obstacle of yours. Even when you fall down, you never lose your fishes from the creel. At entrance of fishes, one way flaps of stainless steel is installed. All the corners of bamboo strips are so planed and rounded that you will not have any stick. It keeps fishes fresh longer than any other materials by the characteristics of bamboo (antiseptic, disinfectant, fungicidal and odor eating). It is also easy to wash out after fishing, then you can keep it clean and with no odor. All these benefits are based on the experience of a long time fishing expert. It is sure that it becomes the best partner of stream fishers.
It often happens that ordinal basket, once a part is broken, will lose its balance of braiding and get un-braided while using without repair. A bamboo baskets which are sold at ordinal shops, have a different sizes and shapes, that is, made one by one. They are not friendly to repair. TENDER is produced based on module construction, so it is completely repairable on box and bamboo basket. Even if it is made 30 years ago, it becomes like a new specification by replacing a broken part. As TENDER's bamboo basket is braided by its own technique, it is quite different from ordinal braided basket on the concept and how to make. Mr. Hata was not a basket maker. He merely met with bamboo as material while searching the best material of functions. TENDER is crafted under the strict measuring using natural material. Do you know where the word TENDER comes from? It has a meaning of "essential thing". Have you seen a square cart right after a locomotion? That is tender, yes carrying coals. It is essential part for locomotion, or life line of train, to provide the engine with coals and water. The essential gear for fishers, that is TENDER.
Akita Sugi (cedar) is ranked as the top grain of woods competing with Yaku Sugi (cedar).
Isn't it enough to use cheaper wood? There is a reason for this too. Cedar, it is usually considered as a soft, weak and with many nodes... but it is the story of planted cedar wood. The natural cedar which is grown in the cold area has incomparably condensed grains. Well grained needle leaved tree is lighter and has enough strength in comparison to wide leaved trees. They have been used for wooden boats as it also includes oil element inside. Durability against water, and reliability in sizing also helps. We use water proof veneer as the door of the box with coating three times. That is a complete preparation against humidity.
For the sizes of basket there are four different depths, 4.5-sun (13.5cm), 5.0-sun (15cm), 5.5-sun (16.5cm) and 6.0-sun (18cm). Sun is old measure of Japanese inch which is equivalent to 3.0cm. Two different length of 8.0-sun (24cm) and 9.0-sun (27cm). For width there are two types of Standard, 3.0-sun (9cm) and Wide type 3.3-sun (9.9cm). As for entire shape, there is an option of special request of tapered width (the lower the thinner) only for the model of 5.5-sun and 6.0-sun depth. This style came from the experience of mountain people (the people who lived only in the mountains). Mr. Hata was personally taught by one of mountain people. You know, when hanging over the rocks or go around the rock for next fishing point, it does not go outside and fit to body very much. I belive this shape is the extreme of TENDER shape.
There are two kinds of finishing bamboo. Migaki (un-enameled, bamboo enamel is scraped) and Green surface (with enamel attached).
"Scraped will turns to tanned color by ages, with aroma taste..."
Left: Scraped made in 1994 Right: Scraped made in 1999