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I bought an Oozora from another online kendama merchant in a color that you don't offer. Is it a real Oozora?
Oozoras are sold in red, green and blue painted versions, as well as an unpainted version. The manufacturer has also produced a limited edition speckletone series at the request of the JKA for a special promotion. As if April 15, 2009, there will also be factory painted pink and sky blue Oozoras.
Any other colors, or any pink or sky blue versions purchased before the release of the factory painted editions, may be genuine Oozoras, but the ball painting is not factory original. We have spoken to the manufacturer, and they are very clear about this.
The Oozora manufacturer lathes cherry wood into ball shapes and then drills the basic straight-sided string and spike holes in the balls. At that point they paint the balls by rolling them or immersing them in thinned paint (what they call dobusuke, or "dunking," painting). The final step in making the balls is to bevel the entry points of the string and spike holes on a drill press after the paint has dried.
So a genuine factory painted Oozora will have a small unpainted raw wood bevel on the string hole, and a large unpainted raw wood bevel around the spike hole. Because these were done after painting, there will be no paint on the bevel surfaces. An aftermarket painted ball will have paint on the string bevel,* and often paint or paint smears on the spike bevel, because it's hard to perfectly mask off the hole while painting. On a factory painted ball the edge of the bevel where it meets the painted surface of the ball will be precise and crisp.
So if you bought an Oozora in Oozora packaging in another color than is available here, the odds are that, yes, it probably is a genuine Oozora, at least in the sense that originally it was an Oozora, but it probably came out of the factory as an unpainted natural wood Oozora, and has been painted by the seller in the color you received. These probably no longer qualify as official JKA kendamas, although unless you are living in Japan and participate in JKA competitions, that doesn't really matter. We've heard that at least one aftermarket repainter is removing JKA seals from repainted Oozoras to avoid being accused of selling doctored kendamas as though they were still JKA legal.
*On TK16 Masters the string hole bevel (but not the spike bevel) is machined prior to painting, so it will be coated with paint even on genuine, factory painted TK16 Masters.