Japanese calligraphy is a traditional form of visual art that has been handed down from generation to generation. However, did you know that most calligraphy brushes in the past were handmade from animal fur? You can still find plenty of this kind at the Fudenosato Kobo Brush Museum in Hiroshima, Japan. Other than that, the museum also exhibits high-end makeup brushes, paintings, illustrations, as well as other Japanese crafts.
It is said that 80% of calligraphy brushes in Japan are made in Kumano, a town located in the Aki District of Hiroshima Prefecture. The town has been producing traditional handicrafts such as brushes for more than 180 years. However, none of the materials used to make the brushes come from the area. Instead, they use the natural hair of horses, wolves, raccoons, sheep, and the like, which have been imported from other countries such as China and North America.
The story behind this is quite an interesting one. A long time ago, farmers in Kumano started buying brushes and ink from Nara and sold them to people in their town. In return, they got extra income besides what they earn from harvesting rice. The local government eventually encouraged them to continue the activity and so they began making their own brushes. Later on, the demand for brushes increased and the brush industry became stable.
The manual process of brush making normally requires 70 steps to create a single brush. It is a tedious process, making calligraphy brushes expensive. Many of them cost several tens of thousands of yen – some even reach 300,000 yen!
In order for people to experience the artistry and craftsmanship of brush making, the Fudenosato Kobo Brush Museum was opened. It houses the world’s largest brush which is 3.7 meters long.
The museum also shows the history of brushes in Japan as well as its development in Japanese culture. Moreover, you’ll find demonstrations and special exhibitions held by famous calligraphy artists all year long.
There’s also a Kumano brush gift shop where you can buy several types of brushes for writing, drawing, and even cosmetics. There are around 1,500 brushes from 32 companies in Japan. You can freely test them out before deciding on what to purchase. What’s great about Kumano brushes is that their handmade brushes are naturally uneven. This, surprisingly, makes a delicate contact with the paper, allowing for a superb finish.
The Fudenosato Kobo Brush Museum is open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day except for Mondays. You can reach it in 45 minutes by bus from the Hiroshima Bus Center at the JR Hiroshima Station, or in 35 minutes by car from Hiroshima City.
The admission fee depends on the exhibits on display at the time of your visit. However, the usual admission fee is 500 yen to 600 yen for adults and 200 yen to 250 yen for students. Preschools have no entrance fee so feel free to bring them along.
If you’re thinking about learning calligraphy, you should definitely check out this museum and purchase some Kumano brushes as a souvenir. If you’re also interested in makeup then you won’t go wrong with a Kumano brush, as many renowned makeup artists around the world use them.
What are you waiting for? Head to the brush capital of Japan now!