【Introduction to traditional crafts】 ~Kumano Brush (Hiroshima Prefecture)~

【Introduction to traditional crafts】 ~Kumano Brush (Hiroshima Prefecture)~


Kumano Brush



【Production area of Kumano Brush】

Kumano Town, Aki District, Hiroshima Prefecture



【What is Kumano Brush?】

Not all brushes made in Kumano Town can be called Kumano Fude.

It is a condition that traditional techniques that have been passed down from ancient times, such as “using rice husk ash when doing hair kneading” and “using hemp thread for threading”, are used.


There are more than 70 processes before the finished product is completed, most of which are done by hand by craftsmen.

All processes require skillful techniques, but among them, “hair selection” and “hair braiding” are said to be particularly difficult tasks.


In May 1975, it was designated as a traditional craft for the first time in Hiroshima Prefecture.

Kumano has a population of about 24,000, of which 2,500 are engaged in brush making.

In order to pass on the wonderful traditional techniques to future generations, Kumano Town is actively promoting the training of successors.



【Features of Kumano Brush】

The biggest feature is the tip of the hair.

The ends of the hair are not trimmed and finished as they are.

By making the best use of the characteristics of natural hair, it becomes a brush with delicate and resilient bristles.


In addition, Kumano brushes use animal hair as a raw material.

There are many kinds of animals, including horses, goats, raccoon dogs, deer, weasels, and cats.



【History of Kumano Brush】

Many people in Kumano were engaged in agriculture, so during the off-season, many people migrated to Yoshino (Nara Prefecture) or Kishu (Wakayama Prefecture) to work.

With the money he earned there, he bought brushes and ink and sold them on the way back to Kumano.

In 1835, Sasaki Tameji went to Arima (Hyogo Prefecture) to learn how to make brushes.

Also, in 1846, Jihei Inoue learned how to make brushes from a brush-maker in the Asano Domain (Hiroshima Prefecture).

Otomaru Tsuneta also learned brush making in Arima and returned to Kumano.

They enthusiastically taught the villagers how to make brushes, and as a result, the craftsmanship spread throughout Kumano.

It is said that this is how Kumano brushes began.

After that, with the recommendation of the Hiroshima clan, brush making in Kumano became more and more popular.


In the Meiji era, when the education of the general public came to be emphasized, the demand for brushes increased and the production volume expanded at a stretch.

However, due to the Second World War, production was temporarily suspended.


After the war, calligraphy was removed as a compulsory subject in elementary schools, which triggered the company to start producing painting brushes and makeup brushes.

Calligraphy education was resumed in 1958, and the demand for Kumano brushes, which had expanded their sales channels beyond writing brushes, increased further.


Currently, Kumano brushes account for about 80% of domestic production.



【Production process of Kumano Brush】

①Hair selection and braiding


Hair selection literally means “choosing the hair to use as a brush”.

High-quality hair is selected from among the raw materials, and the amount of hair is determined according to the type of brush.


②Hair rubbing


Follow the steps below.

・Sprinkle the ash of rice husks on the selected hair

・Add heat using a tool called “Hinoshi”, which puts lit charcoal in and uses heat to smooth out wrinkles

・The oil is removed from the hair by wrapping it in deerskin and rubbing it.


③Hair straightening

In order to remove unnecessary hair, comb the ends of the hair and stack them.


④Remove reverse hair and stray hair

Using a small knife called a hanzashi, the craftsmen pull out the hair that has been cut or the back hair based on the feel of their fingers.

Only good bristles that match the brush are carefully selected.




The tip of the brush is divided into 5 parts in order from the tip of the brush: “life hair”, “throat”, “shoulder”, “belly”, and “waist”.

Sungiri is the process of trimming the hair to the length required for these five parts.

While the craftsmen check it over and over again, we will prepare it little by little.



The process of soaking the hair in water and arranging it so that there is no unevenness in the hair structure is called “Nerimaze”.

If there are any lumps, loosen them, and while stretching the hair thinly, fold it over and over again to mix it.




The process of dividing the kneaded bristles into individual pieces and arranging them into the shape of a brush is called “shindate”.

The bristles are passed through a cylindrical mold called “Koma”, and the amount of bristles is adjusted to suit the brush.


⑧Koromoge wrapping


Koromoge is the hair that wraps around the core of the ear neck, and is made of higher quality hair than that used for the core.

The work of wrapping the hair evenly around the core requires a highly skilled craftsman.

After wrapping, let it dry naturally.


⑨Thread tightening


After tying the base of the dried tip with linen thread, apply a baking iron.

The process is complete when the heat hardens the proteins that make up the hair.


⑩Axis selection

Choose an axis that matches the size of the ear neck.



In this process, the selected axis is heated over a fire to warm it up, and then it is straightened by applying it to the wood to eliminate the distortion of the axis.


⑫Cutting the axis

Cut the axis length to suit the purpose of the brush.


⑬Kotsu attaching

Glue a celluloid or wooden tip to the tip of the axis.


⑭Potter’s wheel processing

It is a process to scrape the kotsu glued in the previous process with a potter’s wheel.

Align the thickness with the axis.


⑮Axis polishing

In order to give the axis a luster, it is further polished with wax after water polishing.


⑯Thread attachment

Poke a hole in the tip of the kotsu with a tool to make a small hole, and then pass the string through.


⑰Daruma processing

In this process, the daruma is put on a potter’s wheel, turned, and shaved with a chisel-like tool called a “Kisage”.

It is used for chamfering and adjusting the daruma to the size of the axis.


⑱Daruma attachment

Once the adhesive is applied to the axis, it is the process of tapping the daruma lightly with a Kisage to fit it in.



After shaving the inside of the ear neck evenly so that it can be easily inserted, insert it into the glued axis.




The glue hardening is done to preserve the life of the ear neck.

Pound the tip so that the ear neck is fully covered with glue.

After that, the linen thread is wrapped around the neck of the ear, and the unnecessary glue is squeezed out while rotating the axis.

After shaping the ear neck and letting it dry naturally, the process is complete.




Engrave a name for each workshop.

Finally, the Kumano brush is completed after coloring the carved parts with pigment.





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