Nara Fude(奈良筆:Nara Brush)

Traditional crafts

1.What is a Nara Fude?

Nara Fude are brushes made around Yamatokoriyama, Nara City, Nara Prefecture.

Nara is said to be the birthplace of making in the prefecture.

The oldest surviving brushes in Japan are the 17 “Tenpyo Fude”, which are the treasures of Emperor Shomu, and are stored in Shosoin.

Features and raw materials

The characteristic of Nara Fude is that it is made from the hair of more than a dozen kinds of animals by a traditional technique called “Kneading method” that skillfully combines different hair chambers such as elasticity and length.

Animal hairs that can be used as raw materials include squirrels, flying squirrels, weasels, raccoon dogs, sheep, horses, deer, and rabbits.

The quality of the finished brush is affected not only by the type of animal hair, but also by the individual differences in the hair chambers of each hair, the part used and the time of seed collection.

The brushmakers read the characteristics of the hair and make repeated corrections, and knead it many times so that there is no bias due to the various hair chambers, and finish it as a single brush.

The “kneading method” is a technique in which animal hair, which is the raw material, is separately soaked in water to harden it, and the distribution and dimensions are determined according to the characteristics of the raw material, and the hair is kneaded.


The history of brushes is old, and it is said that the shogun presented the animal hair brush to the true Qin Shi Huang in China about 2300 years ago.

Brushes were introduced from China to Japan in the early Asuka period, and many Chinese-made brushes began to be imported along with Chinese culture.

Brush making began in Nara about 1200 years ago.

When Kukai (later Kobo Ambassador) returned from the party as a mission to Tang in 806 (the first year of Daido), he brought back Chinese brush manufacturing technology and taught it to a person named Kiyokawa Sakanai of Yamato. It is

Many scholars were studying Buddhism in Nara at that time, and brushes made in Nara became widespread, centered on ideas and scholars.

Eventually, when kana characters came to be used, more delicate brushes that could freely draw Marui lines were required.

Therefore, the foundation of the current Nara brush was established by the brushmakers by drawing out the advantages of a limited number of animal hairs and skillfully combining them.

2.Working process

No machine is used to make it.

This is a thing that all the hairs are different and change all over the world, and on the contrary, in order to make a standard product using the hairs, there is only a clear sense of handiwork and excellent technology. Absent.

Work process procedure


Put a comb in the hair, remove all the fluff at the root, spread it on the board, and mix well.

②Hair fir

Sprinkle the ashes of rice husks, heat them over charcoal, degrease them to improve the ink content, and wrap them in deer skin to repair their curly hair.

③Claw pulling

Align the ends of the hair while pulling out the hair little by little with your fingertips without using any tools.


Put the hair together on the hand metal, hit it with a board from the tip of the hair, and use the vibration to align the hair toward the tip of the hair.

⑤Reverse tweezers

Use your finger to pull out the reverse hair with the tip and root reversed. This is the first stage of hair selection.


A single brush cannot be made with one type of hair. Therefore, we cut various hairs with different properties into long and short hairs. Cut into 1 hair, 2 hairs, 3 hairs and lengths according to their role.


The hair cut into small pieces is called flatfish, and matching each flatfish is called flatfish matching.


Knead the various flatfish cut into small pieces many times so that there is no variation or bias.


The thickness is determined by passing the hair through a small cylinder called a coma according to the direct line of the tip of the brush to be made. This is called centering.

⑩Top hair

Wrap the stretched and spread upper hair around the core.


Place the roasting iron on the bottom of the ear to harden the root, and tie it with hemp thread. This completes the ear.


Use a stiff brush soaked in the glue solution and let it squeeze into the inside.


While squeezing out the glue with a thread, shape the spikes.

⑭Finished product

When it dries, it is complete.

Brush type

Animal brush: As shown in the manufacturing process above
Feather brush (Umofude): Made from cormorant hair, crane hair, peacock hair, Shamo chicken hair, etc.
Bamboo hair: Cut young bamboo to a specified length, divide one into small pieces, and hit that part with a mallet.
Human brush: Make the first hair of a born child in the same way as animal hair
Others: Straw brush, grass brush, continuous brush, etc.

Raw material for brush

① Squirrel

It is a raw material that has been often used for a long time. For fine brushes, it is suitable not only for brush strokes but also for expressing unique and interesting lines by mixing hair with other raw materials to improve the smoothness of the brush.

② Flying squirrel

Flying squirrel, also known as Nobusuma, is a rare animal that has a membrane between its front and hind legs and flies like a bird between trees. Its hair is soft and resembles wool, but it also has a unique stickiness and hair tips. It has a taste and is prized as a raw material for brushes.

③ Itachi

It is a typical raw material for fine brushes, especially for kana brushes.

It has the best properties as a brush, such as softness, elasticity, sharpness, and stickiness, but it is mainly used for fine brushes because the size to be collected is short.

④ Raccoon dog

The raw materials for brushes in raccoon dogs are Japanese raccoon dogs and Chinese raccoon dogs.
Especially Japanese raccoon dogs are of high quality and express beautiful lines such as splash, swing and hold. ⑤ Monkey

⑥ Pig

⑦ Cow

⑧ Amao (Amao: near the tail of the horse)

⑨ Fox

⑩ Sheep

The sheep used for the brush are special edible sheep that are kept only in a very limited area in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River in China, and the number is very small and they are very valuable.

In addition, the hair of a single sheep is also sorted into dozens of types depending on the part, and especially Saikouho has long been widely known as an excellent raw material for brushes.

⑪ Cat

Cats usually use white cat hair, but also known as ball hair, which uses only sharp-edged hair balls with ball-like tips. With only a few hairs growing between the fluff, it is an expensive item that can be taken from a single cat in a very small amount, making it the finest item for pseudonyms.

⑫ Horse (copper hair)

Used for bristles and thick brushes.

Most of the thick brushes are made of horsehair to give the brush elasticity.

Among them, the hair that grows near the tail, called Amao, has the best properties among the hairs.

Wool as vellus hair and horsehair as bristles are said to be the two best.

⑬ Skunk

⑭ Deer

Bay is sharp and rough and has poor elasticity, so it cannot usually be used on the tip of a brush, but it is often used on the waist of a brush to adjust its strength and appearance.

⑮ Rabbit

Rabbit is a raw material used from the Tang dynasty, and the sharp hair from which the fluff has been removed becomes the finest fine brush.

Bai Juyi’s poem also says, “Enjoy bamboo, drink springs, do not grow purple hair, and the craftsmen of Xuancheng make brushes by picking. Choose one hair out of ten million hairs.”

3.Traditional craftsman

Brush teacher Ichiro Suzuki

Think about the person who uses it

The reason why the brush was born from Nara is that only the people in power at that time handled the characters.

The number of people who can handle letters increased during the Edo period when terakoya became popular.

And writing letters has become commonplace.

Suzuki says, “No matter what you do, everything starts with writing.”

For example, understanding the person in front of you.

“The letters represent the person himself. It’s good if the person’s personality and personality are revealed,” says Suzuki.

That’s why he makes the book he wants to write and the brush that fits his hand.

In order to put thoughts and feelings into the brush with the image of the user, the whole process is done by one person instead of division of labor.

The biggest praise for such a carefully made brush is to have it used as the “best daily necessities”.

In other words, ask them to choose Nara brush as a tool that they use on a daily basis and that the more they use it, the more they feel attached to it.

Even if you use it and something goes wrong, Suzuki will send you the brush for maintenance.

“Nara brushes aren’t the end of the purchase, but the relationship begins after you buy them,” Suzuki adds.

“I want you to be kind to the brush all the time.

Certainly, the present age may have shifted from the era of using brushes to the era of not using brushes.

However, “writing” does not disappear.

As long as “writing” exists, Nara brushes have the potential to connect with many people.

It’s the same for special brushes used by calligraphers and painters, as well as for everyday brushes.

Suzuki makes brushes with the people who use them today in mind.

Red brush for makeup connects important people

Suzuki says about the brush he made, “It’s not a work. I’d like you to use it.” However, in modern times, brushes are no longer the tools we usually use.

Recently, the number of ceremonial ceremonies and garlands written with a brush has decreased.
At one point, Suzuki thought that Nara brushes would decline unless he made something that suits the needs of customers and life scenes, so not only calligraphy brushes, but also other crafts such as “red brushes”. We also started making products.

A red brush is a makeup brush used when applying lipstick. At first, I made the red brush as a gift for the female staff who participated in the craft exhibition.

The red brush made by Suzuki has a very thin brush tip and is exquisitely curved, making it easy to paint the outline.

In addition, it is easy to fill because it contains lipstick.

It became a hot topic in a blink of an eye because of its ease of use.
Currently, red brushes are popular as a gift for the wife of the person who took care of them and as a gift for Mother’s Day. By incorporating the techniques and knowledge cultivated in making Nara brushes into red brushes, we have created something that will please many people. Even if it breaks, Suzuki will repair it.

However, it is said that his red brush will not come back easily.

It’s because they do a careful job and the brush is strong.

Suzuki’s brushes will continue to foster good relationships with customers.

Meet people through a brush. Learn life from a brush

What Suzuki cherishes is the meeting place.

He wants to meet people and be asked a lot about the brush.

It is said that there is room for improvement and ingenuity.

That has a positive effect on brush making.

Another special class that Suzuki cherishes is an elementary school.

This is to let children experience the field where they can experience traditional crafts.

Suzuki says that he asks the children to write their name on the Yoshinori with a brush he made.

Suzuki seems to see his name first when he sees the book.

The “name” written by that person most represents that person.

At the same time, it is the most attached word to the person.

Suzuki says he is looking forward to seeing a work called “Name” that none of the children look like.

Furthermore, through that experience, Suzuki conveys not only the fun of Nara brushes and letters, but also the preciousness of life.

A Nara brush born from the lives of a wide variety of animals such as sheep, horses, deer, raccoon dogs, weasels, rabbits, and squirrels.

Suzuki tells the children that he is making brushes while thanking many lives.

It’s not just the brush, it’s the same for food and everything around us.

Suzuki hopes to meet many people and convey a lot of learning through Nara brush.

We asked Mr. Suzuki about the modern meaning of writing with a brush.

“When you write with a brush, your feelings are tightened first. Next, the shape of the letters changes depending on the emotions at that time, but the brush writing shows that well. So, without being good or bad, that person’s You can see the feeling. “

Needless to say, “character” is a symbol to convey.

However, the brush puts people’s feelings on the “character” itself and makes it a “character”.

There is no writing tool that is more suitable for expressing what Mr. Suzuki calls “human spirit,” that is, feelings.

Write with feelings in beautiful Japanese words and letters.

Even if the shape is a little distorted, a brush will convey more hearts.

Such magic brushes continue to be made in the ancient city of Nara today, waiting for people to choose them.

Brush teacher Chiyomi Tanaka

Chiyomi Tanaka, the first woman to become a traditional craftsman, visited the production area of Nara brushes, which boasts a tradition of 1200 years.

I want to do something! The energy that made me become a brush craftsman

A nagaya with a nostalgic appearance that makes you feel as if you were back in your grandmother.

When I rang the chime at the entrance, Mr. Tanaka greeted me with a smile.

A very charming woman with a lovely smile.

It was 37 years ago that Mr. Tanaka aspired to become a brush craftsman.

At that time, he was a full-time housewife and his children were still small.

“When I was young, I worked as a designer for a printing company, but I got married and became a housewife. But I’ve always felt a dilemma, and every day I want to do something!” But I was having a frustrating day because I couldn’t find what I thought it was. “(Mr. Tanaka).

One day, Mr. Tanaka learns that the country is conducting a business to develop successors to traditional crafts.

The craftsman training course was to be able to learn for one year free of charge.

Mr. Tanaka, who thought, “This is it!”, Applied immediately and sometimes went through while pushing the stroller.

By the time I realized it, I was completely obsessed with the charm of making brushes.

After completing the training course, Mr. Tanaka joined a brush manufacturing company and spent his days devoting himself to making brushes as a master.

“At that time, brush making was said to be a man’s job. Because I pluck the hair of animals in order to get good quality materials. What a scary thing! I started because I didn’t know that, but when I realized it It was too late. It was so much fun and interesting that I didn’t mind that, “said Mr. Tanaka with a laugh.

At that time, housewives usually supported their husbands while knitting, dressing, and dressmaking.

It seems that there were criticisms from the people around him for getting a job in his hand.

However, although I started, at the end, Mr. Tanaka smiled, “I fell in love with the depth of brush making.”

However, the turning point comes suddenly.

The number of deliveries to wholesalers has decreased, and we are now thinking about closing the business.

Therefore, Mr. Tanaka decided to set up a shop and start direct sales.

“It’s rare to sell directly to a wholesaler, and I was very worried by the people around me. Actually, there were some difficult times, but thanks to the people around me, I managed to do it. When a long-established craftsman held an exhibition, he once said to me, “I’ll line up together.” He said, “I don’t need a commission.” I was so happy that I cried. It was hard to start from the beginning, but it was a lot of fun “(Mr. Tanaka).

The brush is not a work of art, but a tool. That’s why I think about the writer first.

It is said that many people who come to “Nara Brush Tanaka” to look for a brush are delicate and unique, such as calligraphers and painters.

“If you make a brush that doesn’t suit your wishes, you won’t shake your head vertically. When you’re happy to pick up the finished brush while adjusting the length and thickness until you meet your wishes, It’s a good time to be there “(Mr. Tanaka).

Unique items such as makeup brushes with pink hair tips, brush key chains, and brush earrings were also lined up in the workshop.

When asked if he was trying something new while the demand for brushes was declining,

“This is a play. A brush is a tool. It is not a work of art. Therefore, I want to make a brush that is easy for anyone to write as a” writing tool “that will please customers.” Will answer.

And he continued like this.

“The craftsman is the one who keeps going straight without deviating from the purpose” .

The appearance was very refreshing.


We carry out various activities such as hands-on classrooms so that we can learn more about Nara brushes.

Currently, there are less than 30 Nara brush craftsmen.

It is said that seven of them, including Mr. Tanaka, are certified craftsmen.

It seems that young people sometimes come to Mr. Tanaka to say, “I want to be a disciple.”

However, “It’s a tough job to eat. I refuse because I can’t make my precious children have a hard time,” says Mr. Tanaka.

On the other hand, for the general public, we have them experience a part of the brush making process in order to inherit the brush culture, and we hold a hands-on classroom to write with a brush so that they can use the brush. We are energetically engaged in activities to get people to know the tradition of Nara brushes.

In addition, every June, we exhibit at the Women’s Craftsman Exhibition held in Hakata, Fukuoka, to widely disseminate the charm of Nara brushes.

“There are customers waiting for this exhibition, and I’m looking forward to it every year. I’m making a new work for it now. Rare white raccoon hair, wool, and horse tail. It’s a “three-width pair” that combines hair and three types of hair into one brush shaft, “he said, showing us a prototype.

My daughter, who lives in the neighborhood, will help me with hands-on classrooms and exhibitions during the housewife business.

My daughter has been watching Tanaka’s work from an early age.

“I’m secretly hoping that my daughter will get the manicure someday. The brushmaker shouldn’t do the manicure,” he laughs mischievously.

Why do people stick to writing tools?

A person may want a stationery to speak for himself, just as the words he spins speak for himself.

It not only fills the joy of writing, but also the joy of owning and wearing it.

We hope that you will get a gem of such a customer’s attachment.

Nara brush Akashiya

We have opened a showroom on the first floor of the new office building that incorporates the vision for the next generation of “Nara Brush Akashiya”, which is over the 300th anniversary of its founding.

We are exhibiting masterpieces unique to long-established stores, such as makeup brushes that have been developed while inheriting the craftsmanship and heart of traditional craftsmen, makeup tool sets used in the Edo period, and the Four Treasures of the Bunbo.

It is a showroom where you can experience the tradition and the latest “Fude culture” that inherited the spirit of the old and new.

Source: See Akashiya Co., Ltd.
資料:株式会社あかしや 参照


The brush was made in Nara because “only the people in power at that time handled letters.”

In the olden days, the only way to know the latest information was to cross the sea, and in the first place, ordinary people such as samurai and commoners had no way of knowing the existence of such a new culture.

However, now that we are in an IT society, anyone can get new information and it has become a very convenient world.

Instead, only a limited number of people now use brushes, and the environment has become such that traditional crafts are steadily declining.

Meanwhile, I think Mr. Suzuki, who devised a new makeup brush, made a new page of brushes in history.

Furthermore, not only can you convey the goodness of a brush, but you can also learn through a single brush how to have a very important heart in modern society, such as “the preciousness of life” and “gratitude” for that life. It made me realize.

Each person has a different place and thing to feel the necessary ideas and information at that time.

I think that knowing the essence of something as deeply as possible will lead to what you are looking for now, so I hope that you will be able to realize it as much as possible through this blog.

Next time preview

Thank you for reading to the end (^^) /

Next time, I would like to post about ” Nara Sumi ”.

Let’s have a good trip!