Toyohashi brushes Toyohashi fude
High-quality craftsmanship and top-class brushes
Smooth touch and flow loved by professionals
What is Toyohashi brushes ?
Toyohashi brushes are calligraphy brushes produced in the area centering on the city of Toyohashi in Aichi prefecture. They are known as high class brushes of the finest quality and they are preferred by many calligraphers. There is a wide range of brushes that are not only for calligraphy but also for makeup, Japanese painting, and many traditional crafts, which produce more than a hundred types of brushes. Toyohashi brush is the second largest brush production in Japan following the Kumano brush from the town of Kumano in the Hiroshima prefecture. The overall annual production of Toyohashi brushes is of 1.8 million brushes and its premium range accounts for 70% of the high end market.
The characteristic features of the brush are the smooth writhing stroke and its easy ink absorption. Those characteristic features are the result of the fine technique of hair mixing. The hairs are carefully assessed and sorted by their length, thickness, stiffness and elasticity. The sorted hairs are then soaked in water, combed, and mixed together to ensure easy ink absorption. This feature gives the calligrapher a feeling of stability when writing, earning the brushes their impressive reputation.
In 1804, the lord of the Yoshida domain invited a brush maker from Kyoto to come and work for the domain administration. At that time, the Yoshida domain had financial difficulties and its lower class samurai were making brushes as their supplementary income.
Toyohashi is located in a mountainous region, making it relatively easy to secure the hair of the raccoon dogs and weasels. In addition, it was one of the 53 post towns of the Tokaido highway, which helped spread the Toyohashi brushes across the nation.
Later in the early years of the Meiji period (1868-1912), Jirokichi HAGA promoted the production methods of a coreless brush called a suihitsu (current calligraphy brush). The new production methods improved the previous brushes with their paper wound core and are still being used today. His apprentice, Jusaku SANO, further improved the calligraphy brush and the foundation of the current Toyohashi brush was established. The postwar baby boom and the reintroduction of calligraphy to the school curriculum heralded the golden age of Toyohashi brushes and they spread once again throughout the country.
In 1976, Toyohashi brush was registered as a Japanese traditional craft.
General Production Process
- 1. Selection
The quality and length of the raw materials are visually inspected and classified by purpose of use. Then, the hair is boiled or doused in boiling water. The water temperature is adjusted depending on the hair type.
The bundles of hair are then dried and a metal comb is run through them to remove unnecessary hair.
- 2. Hair rolling
Bundles of each type of selected hair are mixed with the rice husk ashes and rolled in buckskin to remove the oil content, which improves the absorption of the Chinese ink. Then, the hair tips are aligned and allocated to the tip, middle, or base section of the brush head.
- 3. Combing
The hair tips are aligned and the bundles of hair are carefully combed with a brush makers' specialized metal comb to shape the brush head.
- 4. Hair mixing
Different hair types from three different sections are soaked in water and evenly mixed. This is the most characteristic process of Toyohashi brushes, which allows the creation of an elastic brush that easily soaks up the ink. The way of evenly mixing and blending the core hair with no loss of hair is a testimony to the many years of experience and skills of craftsmen.
- 5. Core making and wrapping hair
Poor quality hair are removed from the bundle tip to ensure the brush tips will not split. Then a single brush core is separated out, rounded, and inserted from a bundle into a mold to form the core shape. The finished core is dried and then a thin outer layer of evenly combed fine quality hair is wrapped around the core to produce a brush with a smooth writing stroke feeling feature.
- 6. Finishing
The brush head is soaked in glue to harden it and linen thread is wound around it. The base is firmly tightened to adjust the brush head shape.
Then, the completed brush head is inserted and glued into a bamboo holder and sun dried to finish. Finally the name of the artisan or the product's name is engraved on the brush holder.
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