When I arrived in Gifu Prefecture I went with my guests in a small fishing gear shop located a few steps from the Itoshiro river held by Hirata-san. Located a few steps from the river this little shop is the place to stay in the region to be informed of the fishing conditions in the area and buy what you need.
In many ways the Hirata-san shop reminded me of those still existing fifteen years ago in my area and that were held by true fishing junkies and where we were going to buy as much as our material for the simple pleasure to discuss. Hirata-san's tackle shop is exactly that kind of shop.
If Hirata-san's shop is small it offers no less than anything you need to practice ayu, esa zuri and tenkara. The latest gear rubs beautiful tamos manufactured by the master of the house and bamboo tenkara rods.
I did take advantage also of Hirata-san advices to purchase some spools of fluorocarbon tippet then I became interested in the contents of two wooden boxes placed on the counter of the shop. One of them contained the famous "mamushi kebari".
This kebari really deserves to be described as "one of a kind" as Hirata-san uses the skin of gloydius blomhoffii, a highly venomous viper which is called "mamushi" in Japan. Having met several of these snakes when I was in the mountains around Tadami I can assure you that the behavior of this snake is typically that of a viper: it does not flee at your approach, quite the contrary.
Hirata-san uses the skin of this venomous snake to make the body of its kebari. To people who tell him that they are too expensive kebari, around USD 8.50 each, he replies with a smile: "I risk my life to tie these kebari!"
Hirata-san is used to tie his kebari with a pair scissors as sole tool and the result is nonetheless very successful, that is the evidence of a long experience of tool-free tying.
But Hirata-san's kebari are not only beautiful, they are also very strong as he uses nail varnish as a glue. Hirata-san uses Owner Kuwahara Tenkara hooks.
The second box on the counter of the shop contained other kebari tied by Hirata-san. He of course also ties them without tools on the same hooks but with embroidery thread as a body. When I visited all of them had a beige body but differed in the colors of their hackles ranging from grizzly to black through furnace brown.
Hirata-san also finishes these kebari by a thin layer of nail varnish on the body to make it more durable. As he stated varnish body does not change in appearance when the kebari has been submerged. Like most of the tenkara anglers I did meet in Japan Hirata-san has observed long ago that it is not the kebari that catches fish but the angler who knows how to use it wisely.