As the title suggests, I sometimes love this synthetic tsuka-ito and yet sometimes, I want to eliminate it permanently from my selection.
“Tsunami” is a man-made alternative to real suede ito that provides a similarly comfortable grip for the user but with the strength of a synthetic that is reinforced and won’t stretch. I’ve had real suede ito snap on me twice while wrapping a tsuka, and of course it was right at the end both times! Another benefit to this product is that it is available in eight different colors. So why do I want to scrap it from my list of choices altogether?
Tsunami ito is made by fusing a soft fuzzy layer of synthetic material to a rigid plastic weave backing and then folded in on the reverse side leaving a center seam running the length. While the backing does a great job of adding strength and keeping the ito from stretching, however hard it’s pulled, it can also make folding and twisting the ito extremely difficult.
It often feels like I’m trying to roll the edges of a thick piece of industrial plastic packing band that they use to tie a shipping pallet full of boxes with. It also crushes the average folded hishigami as if they were …um, made from paper. In my opinion, some styles of tsukamaki are nearly impossible to achieve with this ito such as tsumami-maki or katahineri-maki where the strands are pinched instead of folded.
It also makes the end knots a virtual nightmare to execute properly.
Tsunami ito is approximately 8mm wide (minus the fuzz) and 1.5mm thick, though I have seen some small variances between colors and batches before.
Here you can see the seam on the reverse side. There is also a seam on any real leather or leather variant ito on the market.
This is what the weave backing looks like with the fuzzy layer scraped off
You can also see the backing from the ends
Some of the tsunami projects I’ve done in the past are among my all time favorites, but I can’t honestly say that I enjoyed the entire process. Each one I take on adds a little extra stress.
As a functional wrap, it’s hard to beat the grip and the comfort of Tsunami ito, and the affordable price puts it in the running in place of genuine materials for the budget minded.
Some also like that it is an animal friendly substitute, which I have to admit I like also. I’m just not sure I will continue to offer it as it’s a real pain to use. We’ll see.