It can be rare for a performer to order directly from a bow craftsman and collaborate in the production process. Japanese violinist Fumiaki Miura commissioned a bow from master bow maker Kunitaka Ohse. Their process is illustrated in this short film Searching for the ideal bow, produced by Japanese bow manufacturer Archet Co.Ltd and stringed instrument specialists Bunkyo Gakki Co. Ltd. 

In celebration of Archet’s 40th anniversary, this documentary takes a closer look at the production process of the bow that brings out the tone from Miura’s 1704 ‘Viotti’ Stradivari violin, with bow maker Ohse’s subtle exchanges. 

At the age of 16, the Japanese violinist Fumiaki Miura won the 2009 Joseph Joachim Hannover International Violin Competition, making him the youngest winner ever. Since then, the young solo violinist has made a name for himself internationally, performing with many prestigious orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Berlin Deutsche Symphony Orchestra, and BBC Scottish Orchestra, working with conductors such as Gustavo Dudamel, Valery Gergiev and Pinchas Zukerman.

Miura was selected as one of the ‘30 under 30 who will change the world in 2022’ by Forbes Asia. He performs on the 1704 ‘Viotti’ Stradivari violin on loan from the Munetsugu Collection. 

Kunitaka Ohse is a bow craftsman at Archet Co. Ltd. He began making bows in 1983 after ten years of training at Bunkyo Gakki. In 1990, he relocated to Paris to study with Mr. Stéphane Thomachot, a leading bow maker. His numerous awards include a gold medal in the cello category at the 11th 1994 Violin Society of America (VSA) Competition, and the silver medal at the Manchester International Cello Festival. He currently has a workshop in Gokayama. 

Nine months before an anticipated concert, Miura and Ohse visited the Archet workshop in Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture, to carefully select the pernambuco wood that would be used to craft the ideal bow. 

After four months, Miura visited Ohse’s workshop in Gokayama, a World Heritage Gassho-Zukuri village. There, they held a concert to test out the ‘temporary bow’ at Iwase House.

Finally, using the completed bow, Miura performed Bruch’s Violin Concerto with the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, with Ohse in attendance.