The range of Butterfly blades has been expended once again by two series of blades united by a special attribute: The use of pure natural wood. The blades of HADRAW and GARAYDIA series sure raise some questions as to “where” “how” and “since when” Butterfly blades are created. Let’s take some time and review the history of blades that make history.

Who creates Butterfly blades, and where?

Butterfly TEC

Butterfly TEC

Tokorozawa is the name of the place rich in history, surrounded by two lakes in the Prefecture Saitama near Tokyo. Here, the Japanese aeroflight program made its first steps and it has been home to Butterfly’s blade creators, making popular table tennis blades from raw natural material – for decades.

A lot has changed over the years, Tokorozawa and the blade production facility alike. New technologies were invented, the demands to quality raised on a steady basis.

blade_expert_2But some things will never change: The passion and work ethics of the experts at work.

It is always a pleasure to see them in their element. Touching the material with their fingers, feeling for irregularities in the surface of a blade. It seems they are locked in a silent conversation with each product.

blade_expert_3BUTTERFLY TEC is the new center for Research & Development in Tokorozawa, founded in 2013. New blades leave this facility polished, formed and finished, created with the most modern technology and inspected thoroughly to fit weight, finish and dimensions.

Aside from all the modern technical instruments, the R&D team have kept their revolutionary spirit. Without it, none of the numerous technical innovations in the past would have been possible.

„Technology and processing have changed a lot over the years, but our inventive spirit is unchangeable.”

In the last years, Carbon-Materials have majorly influenced the world of blades, making them harder, more precise and stable. All limited by a single ITTF ruling, stating that at least 85% of the blades has to be made from natural wood. This has brought on the recent renaissance of natural-wood blades. But more on that later.

Where it all started

Tamasu_Yanai-TokorozawaBlade production started in 1946, shortly after World War 2, about 1000 Kilometers south of Yanai in Yamaguchi prefecture. Under the name „TAMASU UNDOU DOUGU TEN” („Tamasu Sports Equipment Store”) employees from the region were working on the very first blades and rackets.

In 1949, “Tamasu Sports Equipment” opened a francise in the far-away city of Tokyo to facilitate distribution of blades, rackets and rubbers. 1950, “Tamasu Inc.” was founded just there, with 14 employees. Only two years later, blade production was moved there, as were the local experts from Yanai.

blade_production_B-TEC_man-machine1967 Tamasu moved again. All blade and racked productions, Research&Development and the whole headquarters was moved to Tokorozawa.

The new Butterfly TEC replaced the old production facilities and gave room for modernization and expansion in 2013.


Honest products, despite mass production

blade_production_garaydia_267 have passed since then. In the beginning, everything was done manually, but today, Butterfly relies on the most modern production technology, specifically designed to fit the purpose.

40 employess produce around 600.000 blades per year, using materials such as Carbon, Arylate, Arylate Carbon, ZL (Zylon) Fiber, ZL (Zylon) Carbon and Super ZL (Zylon) Carbon with a single credo to produce products of the highest quality using technology that has evolved over decades.

blade_production_expert1Butterfly blades and other products have become the standard in table tennis, but also a trend. Despite the success and increasing mass-output, one thing remains unchanged for all colleagues at the Butterfly TEC:

Create honest products with real value that stay true to their promise.

blade_expertA strict management program has been set up and established in order to maintain the high motivation and work ethics required to create products of only the best quality as well as to stave off degenerative influence of mass production.

Butterfly_expertsEven though a lot of work is done by machines, it is the highly motivated human expert that stays in control of all important processes at Butterfly. This is to make sure that only flawless products leave the facility.

This combination of Knowledge, Technology and Workmanship keep the Butterfly on course on its voyage across the globe.


Japanese Adaptation by Frank Völler, english translation by Sebastian Hallen

About The Author


Manabu Nakagawa is a publisher of “table tennis report”, the magazine founded by Hikosuke Tamasu (founder of Tamasu Co.) with a long standing tradition of 60 years. Manabu has been editor for 25 years, traveling all over the globe to cover tournaments such as the Olympic Games or World Championships, taking care of various aspects, such as coverage, photography, comments on technique in addition to conducting interviews.

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