In Japanese culture, brushes play a very important role for, such as, calligraphy, painting and drawing, and painting lacquerwares. There are literally hundreds types of brushes.
The most productive area in Japan is Kumano, Hiroshima prefecture, where is famous for Kumano Fude for makeup.
However, in the area of high-class brushes for calligraphy, Toyohashi Fude occupies 80% of the production in Japan and 1.8 million brushes are sold per year.
The beginning of Toyohashi Fude was when then leader of Mikawa Yoshida domain invited brush making artisan, Suzuki Jinzaemon, from Kyoto. He taught the way of brush making to lower rank samurais as their second job.
The brush making suited to this area, since there were many raccoon dogs and weasels.
In the first year of Meiji period, 1868, one artisan named Haga Jirokichi innovated the conventional style, Shinmaki Fude (rolled core style) and created Mizu Fude (integrating tips with water).
The pupil of Jirokichi, Sano Jusaku improved the style and taught to numerous other pupils. It became the foundation of today’s Toyohashi Fude.
Brush making starts with collecting animal hair. In modern Japan, mostly imported, but some ardent artisans make use of locally obtained animals.
Next step, which distinguishes Toyohashi Fude from other brushes, is sorting the hair by length, hardness, thickness and litheness, and put together the hair of similar forms and characters by water.
This step does realize the unattainably useful brushes, especially for calligraphy. Such brushes are said to absorb ink very well and be dried out slowly, that the character of calligraphy artist loves and because of this, Toyohashi Fude is trusted by them.
Toyohashi Fude was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1976.