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Edo Hake
(Edo Brushes)

11 Edo Hake (Edo Brushes)
Main Areas of Manufacture
Taito Ward, Sumida Ward, Shinjuku Ward
Designation/Certification Dates
February 4th, 1982 (Tokyo Certification)
Traditional Technologies and Techniques
  1. For lacquer brushes (Urushi Hake), the hair comprising the brush head is stiffened using a starch paste. The brush head is then mounted and affixed to the brush block.
  2. The following techniques are employed when manufacturing paper hanger brushes (Kyoji Hake), dye brushes (Senshoku Hake), doll brushes (Ningyo Hake), woodblock printing brushes (Mokuhan Hake), paint brushes (Toso Hake) and the cosmetic brushes (Oshiroi Hake) used to apply white face powder:
    • ①For brushes whose brush head is comprised of hair from different sources, the different hair types are mixed equally using a steel comb.
    • ②Rice husk ash is used, and animal hair is ironed and softened in order to eliminate grease from the hair.
    • Suretori is the process of spreading out and sorting the hair; broken and irregular strands are removed using a small knife.
    • ④Binding involves hair being placed in a device called a Shimegi (comprised of wooden boards), or the use of something similar. Silk thread or wire is used for binding bundles of hair.
Traditionally Used Raw Materials
As brush materials, human hair, animal hair, as well as plant fibers such as Tsugu and hemp palm are all used. Cypress wood, bamboo and similar materials are used to make brush handles.
History and Characteristics

As painting tools, brushes have been made in Japan since long ago. Within literary sources, the oldest reference made to the use of brushes comes from the Heian Period (approx. 794 - 1185). It discusses using millet feathers as rudimentary brushes to apply lacquer. The use of hemp palm hair in a similar role is also cited.

In a book called "Bankin-sugiwai-bukuro" (which might be described as a "guide to contemporary products") that was published during the mid-Edo Period in the 17th year of the Kyoho Era (1732), there is a map featuring a number of brush varieties then in use. Among these, the "Edo Hake" is listed.

In modern times, there are seven brush types designated as "Edo Hake" (Edo Brushes). These are paper hanger brushes (Kyoji Hake), dye brushes (Senshoku Hake), doll brushes (Ningyo Hake), woodblock printing brushes (Mokuhan Hake), paint brushes (Toso Hake) and cosmetic brushes (Oshiroi Hake).

The tip of a brush represents its most important feature. Because materials that "don't allow for uneven coating in brush strokes" and those "with stiffness" are the best, in addition to deciding on which materials to use when manufacturing brushes, the rigorous attention to duty of the brush craftsman is also important.

Modern brushes use human hair and animal hair such as horse, deer and goat, etc. They also use plant fibers such as hemp palm. With respect to hair strands that are curly or contain grease, such factors can impact craftsmen and their ability to carry out detailed work when brush making. Thus, an important part of the manufacturing process is dedicated to both organizing the tips of the hair, and correcting curliness and eliminating grease from among the hair strands.

Accordingly, the majority of time spent making brushes is expended on such activities.

Furthermore, when the Golden Hall of Chuson-ji Temple (built in 1124) in Hiraizumi Town, Iwate Prefecture was dismantled for repair in 1955, a very ancient and rare lacquer brush measuring 20.5 cm long with a thickness of 1.05 cm was discovered.

Contact Details
Manufacturing Area
Cooperative Name
Tokyo Brush Manufacturing Association
AddressTokyo Burashi Kaikan, 2-2-14 Azumabashi,
Sumida Ward, Tokyo 130-0001
Telephone No.03 (3622) 5304
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