As one of the few Darker Table Tennis distributors in the world, OOAK Table Tennis Shop is privileged to be granted an interview with Darker, the Japanese table tennis manufacturer.

Darker Japan has always been a bit of boutique manufacturer that was mainly known by the blade connoisseurs that appreciate the very high quality of materials and workmanship that they offer.

Since the details about this company, who’s Master Craftsman still makes their blades by hand, has always been a bit of a mystery, we hope this interview will reveal some of their secrets.

 

Darker is a Japanese table tennis blade manufacturer that was established in 1955 by Mr. Hidetaro Okada. They specialise in premium quality Kiso Hinoki blades.

The craftmanship of their blades is second to none, and they are well known to use only the highest quality of Kiso Hinoki for their blades, a wood that’s only found in the Kiso region of Japan, and is only suitable for making blades when it’s many hundreds of years old.

 

Darker Table Tennis Interview

Questions:

The quality of your Kiso Hinoki blades are widely regarded as amongst the best in the world. Do you have special access to the very best quality Kiso Hinoki, or is it your blade makers that make your blades of such high quality? How do you source your raw materials, and how do you ensure it’s of the highest quality?

Our company has our own special access to high quality Kiso Hinoki and also we have well experienced blade makers. Both bring the result of making high quality Hinoki racket.

 

Many of the large manufacturers use mass production equipment to make their blades, which usually means less attention to details. How much of Darker’s blade manufacturing is still done by hand?

We maintain our tradition to make each blade by hand

 

Do you design and test your own blades? If so, who does the testing?

Yes we do design and test our blades. We also ask other people outside our company for test and advise as well.

 

 

Players are usually willing to pay more for blades made in Japan, because they expect higher quality. Your latest Liberta Synergy series of blades are made in China, and clearly very high quality. How do you ensure that the quality of these blade remains high, like what we’ve come to expect from Darker? Will future new blades likely be made in China as well?

We will use both Japanese and Chinese factories for different purposes to take advantage of making best quality items.

However Hinoki items will be made only in Japan.

 

 

Some of your blades have been discontinued in the last few years, including several famous shake-hand blades like the Darker Speed 90, which is now very hard to find.

Is this due to the shortage of raw materials, or are there other reasons?

It is due to material shortage.

Recently it is becoming a very serious problem. It’s very difficult to get hold of satisfactory materials to make blades.

 

Most of your blade range includes Kiso Hinoki plies. Will Kiso Hinoki continue to be the key ingredient in the future?

Yes indeed.

 

 

 

The Sakura series (Alba & Serio) seem to be a breakthrough in technology, offering more linear performance previously found only in 1-ply Kiso Hinoki blades. How successful has this series been for Darker?

It is made for players for who like the feel of touch of 1-ply blades when hitting the ball.

The Sakura series have very close feeling to 1-ply blades. Also the blades are comparatively light and does not break easily, we recommend it to young generations who haven’t used 1-ply blades yet.

 

You have a few new rubbers on the ITTF LARC, namely the Turbo 70, Leone, Crea and Anessis. Can you reveal any details about the what these rubbers are, and when you expect them to be available? Are these rubbers optimised for the new 40+ balls?

Turbo 70 and Leone is limited for sale only in China. Crea is pimples out rubber. Sales release date for Anessis has not been decided yet. All rubbers above are suitable for the new plastic balls.

 

 

From my own experience, your Provine and Spalbird rubbers are quite a good match to your Hinoki blades. Do you have any recommendation of what type of rubbers work well with which of your blades? Was the Liberta Synergy designed specifically for the modern tensioned rubbers like Tenergy?

Yes, Provine and Spalbird are well matched to our Hinoki blades.

As you said the Liberta Synergy is designed for the modern tensioned rubbers like Tenergy.

 

 

What are the future plans of Darker? Do you plan to go from ‘Boutique’ to more mainstream? Are you planning to widen/broaden their market or they are satisfied with current production? Are you trying to attract more professional players to use your equipment?

We are working on new product development for Liberta series. Please look forward to seeing new products, designed for top players use, next year.

We will keep providing high quality Hinoki blades, our specialty, and also developing new products to enlarge our marketing.

—End of Interview—

 

This Interview was brought to you by OOAK Table Tennis Shop Australia, official Darker Distributor in Australia. Do not copy without permission.

 

Darker Esteem