Ms. Yumiko Komura, creator of the BREATHTAKING Strap, was an active performer and educator in her earlier years. While preparing for a performance and increasing practice load as usual, she encountered issues such as the inability to move her fingers or hold eating utensils. She sought help from various medical professionals and it was then that she realized that the root of the issues stemmed from neck irregularities due to the weight of the instrument. She was able to perform by taking time off until the day of the performance but it was this experience that inspired her to develop a strap.
Ms. Komura tried various types of straps, looking for clues to remove the weight of the instrument from the neck area, but everything she encountered didn’t quite resolve all of the issues. A harnes type strap was indeed comfortable for the body but restricted breathing and lead to quicker exhaustion. Hence, Ms. Komura decided to cut off the sides of a harness strap and discovered that breathing became instantly easier, leading to the realization that constricting the body had to be avoided at all costs. This subsequently lead to the development of the Side Auxiliary Strap on the first iteration of the product.
There was one more issue: how to avoid the constriction of the neck. Ms. Komura one morning thought of a cabinet pull handle that she had left over from a DIY project. She immediately got out of bed and put it on a strap. This became the basis for our current Front Bar of the strap.
Why is it that playing an instrument becomes so much easier with proper body alignment? Ms. Komura went through consecutive acupuncture sessions leading up to her recital. The absolute ease she had in performing allowed her to realize the intertwined nature of the body, posture and sound, setting her off towards various pursuits in research and experimentation.
By this time, the strap’s basic form took shape and although still in early testing stages, the straps were requested by an increasing number of saxophonists. However, there was simply not enough time for Ms. Komura to fulfill these orders on her own. She decided to move towards mass production for eventual commercialization to meet the demands of a larger population, but finding a manufacturer or even suitable parts was difficult. Rather than sacrificing quality for accessibility in price, she wanted to create a genuine product that every person would approve of. This mentality led her to meet other like-minded people that wanted to create with uncompromising dedication. Subsequently, accelerated commercialization became a reality.
The prototype of the product was unveiled at a saxophone event in the Kansai region of Japan in 2006. The unveiling received numerous high praise from musicians. The following year, BLISS (now BREATHTAKING) was established and the product saw over 300 pre-orders prior to the release date. Reviews from professional saxophonists pervaded the market and many retailers across the nation started carrying the straps. The strap underwent a dramatic change and became re-introduced as the Lithe in 2013.
Ms. Komura’s background as a performing musician and educator has been a critical factor for the growth of BREATHTAKING. She tests products herself, making sure the products are of utmost quality for the performing musician. She obtains feedback from many other professionals, in constant pursuits for improvement. Her lengthy career as an educator allows her to understand the needs of students and reflect them in the products. Development is focused on creating products that enable the body to “perform well with ease.” BREATHTAKING aims to continually evolve, pursuing a product that’s consistently better with each iteration. We currently have two workshops in Japan where daily dedicated research takes place.