Kawajiri brush is high quality used all over the word


Kawajiri brush, a famous and high-end brush from the Seto Inland Sea

Kawajiri brush is made in Kawajiri-cho, Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture. Hiroshima Prefecture is the second largest producer of brushes. Hiroshima Prefecture is also home to the Kumano brush, which has the largest share of the domestic market for brushes. Including the Kawajiri brush, more than 80% of all brushes in Japan are produced in Hiroshima Prefecture. If you are a calligrapher, the name of this place may sound familiar. This is the production center of high-end brushes for those in the know. In recent years, the production lineup has expanded into cosmetic brushes, and they are capturing celebrities and makeup artists’ heart. 

 Kawajiri brushes have been produced since the end of the Edo period (1603-1868), and are recognized for their high quality, both in the past and in the present, in the tradition of Kyoto brushes. The flexible tip of the brush has won the support of many specialists, including calligraphers and Japanese-style painters.

Animal hair is used as the main material for the tip of the brush, and all the processes, including the advanced hair mixing technique called “kneading mixing,” have been used since ancient times, resulting in a brush known for its high standard of quality.

In recent years, production areas across Japan have been promoting rationalization and modernization in terms of management and technology in order to survive, such as the conversion to joint-stock companies, the introduction of machinery to some production processes, and the creation of factory-based businesses. In the midst of this trend, we have been striving to carry on, develop, and refine our traditions. In order to carry on, develop, and refine the tradition, they continue to produce high quality brushes with a single craftsman handling more than 70 processes.

kawajiri brush
Source: #setouchi skip

History of Kawajiri Brush

In 1838, Sanzo Kikutani of Kawajiri purchased brushes from Arima in Settsu (present-day Hyogo Prefecture) and sold them at Terako-ya and other stores. Sanzo, who was successful in the brush business, not only purchased brushes but also encouraged villagers to manufacture brushes. The first Kawajiri brush was made in 1859, when Yaekichi Ueno of Kawajiri hired a shaft craftsman from Izumo to handle high-quality “nerimaze” brushes after he returned from a nine-year apprenticeship with Arima Brushes. Eventually, he also introduced the mass-produced “Bonmaze” and several traders followed suit, and the name “Kawajiri Brush” gradually became well known throughout the country.

In the Meiji period (1868-1912), with the establishment of schools and the revision of the Elementary School Ordinance, the demand for brushes increased and Kawajiri brushes developed greatly. During World War II, there was a period of decline, but the traditions and techniques of Kawajiri brushes have never ceased and are still being passed down today.

Production Method and Process


1. sorting of raw wool

The finest wools, called “old fine top bristles” from under the chin to the chest, are further sorted into several levels by distinguishing subtle differences, and the finest among them are used as raw materials for the brushes. In order to maintain consistent quality, work is done in the morning on a sunny day, facing south. Even the same animal hair differs slightly in terms of luster, condition of the tips, and overall shape. This process is done solely by eye and touch, relying only on long years of experience and intuition.

2. hair assembly

During the selection of raw hairs, the characteristics of the brush to be made and the finished product are imagined, and the characteristics and quantity of raw materials to be used are considered while making the selection. It is like a blueprint for brush making. This is where the brush maker’s experience and sense are tested the most.

3. boiling

The selected raw materials are divided into appropriate quantities, wrapped in Sarashi, tied with linen threads, and soaked in water. The water is soaked into the raw materials and boiled, while gently husking them with both hands. This process removes any quirks from the hair and makes it easier to remove the fat.

4. de-cottoning

After boiling, the hair is thoroughly dried and de-wadded. This is the process of removing the fluff from the base of the raw hairs using a golden comb.

5. fire-removal

Ashes made by burning rice husks are sprinkled on the hairs, and the hairs are then subjected to a fire ironing process. The ash is used to straighten the hair like an iron and to dissolve the oil.

6. ash fluffing

When the oil is dissolved, the hair is quickly wrapped in deerskin and rubbed carefully to remove the oil before it is heated down.

kawajiri Fude
Source: #setouchi skip

7. tip-over

The raw hairs are aligned in the direction of the tips. When all the hair ends are aligned, the hairs are placed on the hand, and any hairs that have popped out are removed and combed firmly. The combed hairs are placed on a brass Yosegami, and then placed on a Yoseban made of cherry wood, and the ends of the hairs are aligned little by little.

It is said that the sound of the comb hitting the Yoseban is a good indicator of the craftsman’s skill. After this, the hairs are put back on the yoseban and the tips are repeatedly gathered.

8. jonkiri

The root part of the hair is cut off by attaching a different sized piece of wood to the yarn-arrayed hair.

9. saraeri

At this stage, the damaged and waste hairs at the ends of the hairs are removed with a small bladeless knife called a hansashi.

10. hair mixing

The hairs are mixed together. Slowly soak the bundle of hairs in water. The bundles of hairs are then combed to remove any unnecessary hairs and flattened to form what is called a “Hirame”.

11. mixing

Once the “Hirame” have been made in the same manner, they are divided into portions and layered together to form a single Hirame. Then, the mixture is stretched thin and folded into a single layer.

This process is repeated over and over again to mix five different lengths of hair. This makes the core of the brush all the more uniform.

Japanese traditional brush
Source: Bunshin-do


12. brushing

At this stage, we also remove any damaged, waste or inverted hairs from the tips of the bristles.

13. centering

Pieces are selected to make the core. First, “Hirame” is split into pieces of a certain size. This is then placed through the piece and the girth is aligned and shaped. Next, while checking the feel with fingertips and hands, we firmly remove the wasted hairs from the outside of the core to the center part. Finally, the core is removed from the pieces and placed on a sieve to dry.

14. upper hair wrapping

Thinly stretched hair is wound around the outside of the core. The top hair, also called “cosmetic hair,” is made of beautiful, shiny hair. The upper hair is made in the same way as the core, and is divided into even pieces using the eye of a comb. The core is then rolled onto the hand with the right hand, and the upper hair is rolled off with the left hand.

15. removing the hairs

Again, the wasted hairs are carefully pulled out in small pieces and shaped by hand, then returned to the sifter (sieve). Only through the repetition of this steady process can a brush with a good finish be created.

16. burnishing

The base of the dried ear is tied tightly with hemp thread and quickly hardened by burning with a hot iron. This process prevents the hairs from falling out. The ears are then separated from the thread one by one and combed to complete the ear.

17. shaft insertion

The shaft is pressed against a small knife on a stand and rotated with the palm of the hand, shaving it to match the thickness of the ear. Once the ear is in place, the brush is ready to be judged.

18. glue hardening

For the final step of “glue hardening,” the tip of the brush is first dipped in glue. Once the glue has been thoroughly applied to the inside of the shaft, the glue is squeezed out and the brush is combed to straighten the hairs. Next, squeeze the tip with a piece of hemp thread and squeeze out the excess glue by turning the brush from the root to the tip of the hair. Finally, shape the brush with your fingertips and let it stand and dry naturally for about a week to complete the process.

Japanese Fude
Source: PR TIME


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