JTCO strives for inheritance, creation and development of Japanese traditional culture.
Japanese Traditional Craft Resource Center Category


Japanese Traditional Craft

Craft Category Stationery
Name Kawajiri-fude: Kawajiri brush

Main Production Site:Hiroshima

The main material for Kawajiri brush is animal hair. High quality technique “neri-maze (kneading mixing)” was firstly used, and then “bon-maze” technique was also adopted, which made mass production possible. Through this innovation, Kawajiri brush gradually became known across Japan. In order to make a brush, sincere efforts made by many craftsmen and various processes are necessary.

Kawajiri brush is hand made one by one using a traditional process. Craftsmen make the most of their skill and put their enthusiasm and affection through all the process of making one brush.

[Nationally designated traditional craft (by minister of Economy, Trade and Industry)]
Provided by Kawajiri Brush Cooperative Association
Translation by: Haruka Kumada, reviewed by Tham Wan Xin

Materials Animal hair
Crafting Processes [1] Selection of animal hair (Hair selection)
The animal hair of wild animals varies in its condition because it might be scraped or partly cut. Craftsmen select only high quality animal hair using only their senses of sight and touch, and relying on long years of experience and intuition.

[2]Removal of cotton(Cotton removal)
After the animal hair is thoroughly dried, the cotton attached to the root of raw hairs is removed with a golden comb.

This process is to straighten the animal hair like an iron and to dissolve fat content with the heat.

[4]Ash rubbing
When the fat contentdissolves , the hair is wrapped in deer skin and rubbed carefully to remove to fat content before it cools down.

[5]Aligning hair ends(Aligning)
Repeatedly combed hair is placed on a brass-made steel board, and the hair ends are aligned little by little by using the board.

In order to make the shape of a brush, the first hair to the last hair of each hair bundle are cut to their designated lengths.

Each bundle of hair is shaped depending on the characteristics of the raw materials and its amount. This process is like the blueprint where the craftsmen's experience and skills play the most important role.

Hair roots are aligned, inferior hairs are removed, and soaked in water. An appropriate amount of hair is taken and flattened down using bamboo weights. It is then combed to make an organized shape called “hirame.”

For each hair bundle, from the first hair to the last hair , a certain amount is taken to make a single “hirame.” This is stretched thin and folded into a single layer. This process is repeated over and over again.

[10]Core Making
“Hirame” is divided into a certain size and placed through a tube called “koma” to make the shape of the brush and remove unwanted hair. It is then removed from the “koma” and left to dry.

[11]Rolling Outside Hair
Thinly stretched hair is wound around the outside of the core. This part is made using beautiful shiny hair, and is also known as “make-up hair.”

The root of a brush head, after dried, is tied with a cotton thread and applied firmly to a slightly heated tong. This process is the last step to make the shape of a brush and prevents messy and falling hair.

[13]Core Inserting
A brush shaft is shaved evenly with a knife to match the size of the brush head as the craftsman rolled it by hand. The process is completed when the brush head is secured.

After the brush head contains enough glue(called “funori” in Japanese), excess glue is removed and the hair is brushed to make it smooth. Unwanted glue is removed again using a cotton thread. Lastly, the brush head is shaped using fingers and it takes about a week for the brush to dry naturally.

History Kawajiri started to get involved in brush making since the end of Edo period. In 1838, Sanzo Kikutani, who lived in Kawajiri, imported brushes from Arima, Sesshu (now Hyogo prefecture.) and, sold them at terakoya (temple schools) and other places.

After Sanzo succeeded in the business of selling brushes, he started to encourage villagers to produce the brushes instead of only importing them. The first Kawajiri brush was made in 1859. Yaekichi Ueno spent 9 years in the Arima region to acquire skills to make the brushes, and after he returned to his hometown, he hired craftsmen who had skills to deal with high quality technique “neri-maze.” “Bon-maze” technique, which made mass production possible, was also adopted later. As more factories followed this method, the name of “Kawajiri brush” became known across Japan.
In the Meiji era, school system was established, and the demand for brushes increased in elementary school curriculum. This led to the rapid development of Kawajiri brushes. During World War Ⅱ, while there was a time when the production of Kawajiri brush declined, the tradition and skills to make the brush did not disappear and they have been passed down until today.

◆Exhibition / Showcase
For more Infomation
Kawajiri Brush Cooperative Association
1-2-2 Kawajirinishi, Kure-shi, Hiroshima 737-2603 JAPAN
TEL: +81-(0)823-87-2395
(Japanese only)

Kawajiri Brush Museum
502-39 Kawajiri-cho, Kure-shi, Hiroshima 737-2631 JAPAN
TEL: +81-(0)823-87-2390
(Japanese only)

JTCO Newsletter "Delivery of Seasonal Tradition"Experience Japan with you tour guide!Find us@Facebook