Nigirikawa can be changed for any reason – it can be worn out, uncomfortable or just to change colour or style. Typically, in the shops you can find different types of nigirikawa, for example:
Single colour deerskin
Deerskin with volume print “inden” 印伝
There are many different types, the most important thing is to choose the one that fits you the most.
Removing old nigirikawa
It’s actually quite easy to remove nigirikawa, in most of the cases it’s fastened with white glue (PVA). It can either be ripped off, otherwise, wrap it with a damp cloth for 10-15 minutes so the glue can become more liquid. It would ease the process a lot.
Any excess glue can be removed with household cleaners.
As you can see, I have likewise changed the below padding to a smaller one. This can be useful for someone with short fingers.
Placing new nigirikawa
First of all, start with measuring the proper length of nigirikawa. Usually it’s cut diagonally, so start with the cut edge, placing it along the line of rattan (籐) – top wicker binding.
To make the wrapping neater, start with the outer left side of the bow and thoroughly wrap the grip without much overlap.
Measure the length of nigirikawa couple of times, just to make sure your measurements are correct (sometimes when wrapping you can oversee some larger gaps). Now cut the excess part. I have marked the cutting line with a knife, carefully pressing it into the material along the endge of lower rattan to make a distinctive line.
Cover approximately 1/3 of the band with white glue, and start wrapping around. Add more glue along the way – if you cover the whole nigirikawa before the start, it will be more difficult to control the process. Any overlap can be tucked inside with a hook-looking pin from a toolbox.
Pro tip – if you add enough glue to the edges, it will be sufficient to just place the wrappings as close to each other as possible. Edges of nigirikawa will be glued together and no overlap will be needed. Likewise, this will ensure a very smooth grip.
That’s it – now let the glue set for at least 30 minutes dependent on the weather. I usually change it in the evening, so it can dry overnight.