The term "kumihimo" means intersected threads and refers to any type of braid executed using a loop manipulation method. Kumihimo has a very long history in Japan, where early examples of impressions of braided structures date back to the Jomon period (8000-300 BC).
Kumihimo is unique in that braiders can use any number of techniques, many specialized stands, or braiding machines. Over the centuries, various stands were designed to execute specific braid structures, and five of them are still in use today. The most common in this country is the Maru Dai, which is made of a round, smooth piece of wood with a hole in the center, four wooden legs, and a square wood base. The fiber being used to braid is wrapped around weighted wood bobbins called "tama." To counter the weight of the tama, weights are hung from the braid (through the center).
Another easier method involves using a foam disk, numbered from 1-32, with slots for the braiding material to be held in while weaving, and plastic bobbins. This disk can be held by hand, or attached to a stand (similar to the Maru Dai) on which the disk can be secured, using velcro, for more control over the braiding process. There are even stands available now with a lazy susan type top for ease in turning the disk. The foam disks come in round and square shapes, each used for a different effect on the braid.
Braids can be made with a variety of materials, and can be braided with or without beads.