An Artisan Effectively Versed within the Custom of Japanese Brush Making

Once I journey to town of Kyoto, lower than an hour’s prepare journey from Nara-machi, to go to the flagship retailer of the Hiroshima-based brush firm Hakuhodo, I’m drawn into the world of beautiful magnificence brushes. The shop is a contemporary white field, with glowing show instances and a skylight harking back to a James Turrell set up, in distinction to the staid Ippodo tearoom throughout the road. In Kyoto, brush making has all however disappeared — the remaining three fude shokunin are too few to benefit dento kogei designation — however the metropolis is understood for its conventional arts and excessive tradition.

Hakuhodo makes use of the phrase “fude” liberally to explain its tons of of make-up applicators, which appear to be extremely specialised variations of cosmetics brushes bought in malls world wide. They’re priced in line with their supplies, and vary from roughly $15 to a number of hundred. One powder brush, enclosed in a plexiglass case on the wall, has Hey Kitty painted in lacquer and gold mud on its deal with (and prices roughly $800). I select a tiny fan brush for eradicating mascara clumps (once I attempt it later with Japanese Dejavu Fiberwig mascara, it makes me appear to be I’m carrying false lashes), and a double-sided brush-comb for eyebrow grooming that has a 24 Okay gold ferule attaching it to a pleasantly weighty deal with lacquered the identical shade of vermilion as a shrine gate.

A sophisticated saleswoman reveals me how a well-liked eye shadow brush works in another way relying on the hair it’s produced from. Kolinsky (a sort of weasel hair banned within the U.S.) applies comfortable, light coloration, and can be utilized for concealer and gel shadows. Horse applies the shadow extra thickly, constructing it up sooner. And goat is nice at depositing glitter and vivid coloration. She explains that tufts of artificial hair are effectively suited to making use of basis rapidly and mixing liquid coloration, however pure hair picks up extra powder. A protracted, skinny brush for drawing on swoops of eyeliner appears just like the menso fude in Tanaka’s store, designed for portray the face on a doll; its comfortable, versatile hairs take skilled talent to regulate, however could make a advantageous line of unparalleled magnificence.

Most of Hakuhodo’s brushes are, in truth, yofude, or Western-style brushes distinguished by a metallic ferule holding the bristles in place. Kumano, town in Hiroshima the place they’re manufactured, first made its identify with paintbrushes — and now cosmetics brushes. Hiroshima farmers who labored in Nara through the low season used to convey dwelling fude to promote for additional earnings, and within the early Nineteenth century, the Kumano area sponsored Nara artisans to show these farmers the craft of brush making. Now, 80 p.c of Japan’s brush manufacturing is finished in Kumano. The method is split into discrete duties, every assigned to a distinct artisan, so it’s simpler to outsource to a machine or abroad manufacturing facility.

Tanaka says doing each step herself, solely by hand, is inefficient; however it makes you care about the entire course of. She’s devoted to persevering with the custom of Nara fude, however her pal inspired her so as to add make-up brushes to her repertoire. A small glass case in her store shows lip brushes like those depicted in Nineteenth-century ukioy-e work of courtesans, and spherical powder puffs made of soppy pink-colored goat hair set atop a stout cypress deal with that appear to be these of Kumano brushes. These she calls “burashi,” a Japanized pronunciation of “brush,” to tell apart them from fude. (I purchase an itachi lip brush with a deal with manufactured from bamboo and water buffalo horn, however it’s so stunning I’m afraid to make use of it.)

As passionate as she is about Nara fude, Tanaka tells me she would discourage nearly any younger particular person from taking up the a long time of examine, soiled, painstaking labor and uncertainty that include a profession making brushes. She earns sufficient to maintain her store open, however it was her husband’s salaryman job that supported their household. I ask why she’s caught with all of it these years. She replies, “As a result of it’s nonetheless enjoyable and attention-grabbing.” In her coronary heart, she says, she needs her daughter (now a mom, too) may discover the identical pleasure in making fude.


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