How to Use a Marudai

A marudai is a tool used in the creation of Kumuhimo a kind of Japanese braid. It is generally 16 inches high and the braider will use it while kneeling or sitting if placed on a table.

The Western Style Marudai is 26 inches in total length and is normally used while sitting. The frame of the Marudai is more often than not wood-based but may also be constructed using plastic.

The Marudai is used freehand and does not denote where the thread should be positioned. For added tension in the braid tama are placed on the strands of threads and counterweights are put on the base knots.

The Tama are bobbins manufactured from wood. They are usually made more weighty with lead or any other heavy metal.

This article will highlight how to use the Marudai but will not give any instructions on how to create the pattern that must be used when forming the braid.

Things You Will Need

  • Marudai
  • Bobbin
  • Material to create Kumuhimo/braid: string, ribbons, etc.
  • Counterweight


  1. To use the marudai you will need to learn one or more of the several Kumuhimo stitches that can be created. If you are a beginner choose a very basic stitch. You can perhaps use the 16-thread rotating stitch which is considered a fairly simple stitch to learn. Your pattern will widely be dependent on how you arrange the strands before using the marudai. You may use yarn, ribbon, or any other fiber to create your braid with the marudai.
  2. You will need to decide what length you will begin the braid with.
  3. Cut the first strand that will be used.
  4. Once this length has been acquired use it as a guide to cut the other strands. You can use as many strands as you desire. The thickness of the braid will be determined by the number of strands used.
  5. Once the strands have been cut and designated for use you will attach the tama to all the strands being used on the marudai. Ensure they are attached to the Tama securely.
  6. Tie the ends of the strands together and attach the resulting combination of strands to the counterweight.
  7. Place the section of the string with the counterweight attached into the hole of the marudai and position the strings neatly over the surface of the marudai.
  8. You are now ready to braid. Wrap the strings around each other as instructed by the pattern you are using. Because there is no specific area that indicates where the strings will go much of what you will do will be approximate.
  9. While creating the braid check periodically at the hole in the center of the marudai to see how well the braid is developing. If the braid does not look as you intended it to look, stop and pull out the braid or restart using new strands.
  10. Once it is completed you may cut the braid and secure the ends.

Do’s and Dont’s

  • Always look for a pattern before using the marudai. Follow the pattern instructions carefully to produce a better braid.
  • When looking for material to create the braids with a marudai ensure that they are not too thin or flimsy as this will result in breakage of the strands while making the braid.