Circa 1874, during the Meiji era, copies of French hairbrushes began popping up in shops around Japan. At first, these hairbrushes were called Western Brushes. Later, they went into mass production churning out machinemade cheap versions that took over the market. However, the demand for handplanted brushes persisted.
The public wanted Tokyo Hand-planted Brushes made from goat hair for face brushes, horse hair for body brushes, and boar hair for hairbrushes. The brush’s purpose determines the type of hair used, and hair quality is dependent on from which part of the animal the hair is grown. The craftsmen find the best texture by ascertaining flexibility and elasticity of hair while balancing and mixing these two traits.
Hand-planted brushes offer the most durable bristles because the handdrawn lines, which are stainless-steel wires, fold the hair in two and pull them through the holes one at a time much like a sewing machine. This technique yields bristles that stay in place much better than machine-manufactured brushes. One other bonus is that the bristles are replaceable, making the brush an item that can be close to one’s heart and used for decades. Brushes come into contact with the body making it even more important to have highquality, handmade brushes crafted by experienced craftsmen.