Takeyumi (竹弓) = Traditional Japanese bow made from bamboo.
First of all, There is no perfect Takeyumi in this world. Then, how to choose our own Takeyumi (竹弓, bamboo bow) is the one of the more interesting topics. I hope the following points will be helpful information for you.
０. You need advice from more experienced Kyudoka!!!
１. Measure your Yazuka (矢束) before going to Kyudo shop. Bow height (size) is determined by your Yazuka or draw. (Yazuka is the distance between your left mid finger and throat with your arm fully extended to the side.)
Bow size Yazuka
Nami (並, 221cm) Between 85 and 90cm.
Nisun (二寸, 227cm) Between 90 and 95cm.
Yonsun (四寸, 233cm) Between 95 and 100cm.
Rossun (六寸, 239cm) Over 100cm.
Sansundume (三寸詰, 212cm) Under 85cm.
２. Check the form of the bow (弓, Yumi) and make sure the width and the thickness of the bow grip is suitable for you.
About the form of the bow. Because nowadays we practice in the Kyudojo (弓道場) with the same target distance, the form of the bow should not evolve much more (そうでしょうね…). See samples from different part of Japan below.
① Edo form (江戸成), ② Kyo form (京成), ③ Satsuma form (薩摩成)
３. Check the weight of the bow. Compare bows from different makers with the same draw weight, the lighter the bow weight (not the draw), the better.
４. Ask the maker/seller for testing the sound of the bow. Then draw the bow about 10 centimeters and release. Check the Tsurune (弦音, the tone of the string) upon release.
Ok! How can we know what the correct Tsurune is? Actually, it is very difficult to explain clearly. Sometimes it sounds like when we beat time with our fingers, sometimes it sounds like flint. Just as in appreciating music, the most desirable sound is often based on experience. Anyway, the sound should be crisp and clear.
５. Ask the maker/seller for Kataire (肩入れ). Sometimes, a shop doesn’t like us to check their bows. If they don’t mind, try to draw the bow to your left shoulder with a Kake (glove). Bringing your Kake (glove) to the Kyudo shop is good forethought.
(Caution!! Don’t Hanare (離れ, release) when you’re opening without an arrow)
６. Check the form of the bow after Kataire (肩入れ) for changes having studied the shape before testing.
７. Check for damage or flaws to the Yumi.
８. Don’t forget to say Arigatō-gozaimasu (ありがとうございます, Thank you so much).
９. Check the Urazori (裏反り, recurve, unstrung) of the bow against a flat surface. Please keep the height from the flat surface to the top of the grip 15-20cm. If the bow can remain unstrung for four days and stay within the 15-20cm, then, the bow is stable. And you can begin limited shooting.
10. Limited shooting means one to four arrows with no Kai (会), while listening for bad sounds from your bow. The bow should feel comfortable being drawn.
11. Last but not least! Enjoy your new Takeyumi (竹弓, bamboo bow).
If you need, please feel free to ask me anything.