Kumano Makeup Brushes Made with Branches from A-bombed Trees
“Makeup brushes bring smiles, smiles bring world peace”
Kumano brushes are a traditional craft with a hundred years of history beginning in the Edo period. Seizing the opportunity of the G7 Hiroshima Summit, Koyudo Co., Ltd., a well-established maker of Kumano brushes, created makeup brushes using branches from an a-bombed tree in the handle. As the President Tsuchiya Takemi powerfully stated, “Makeup brushes bring smiles. Smiles bring world peace.” We visited Koyudo’s makeup brush workshop in Aki District’s Kumano Town to learn about the development history and philosophy behind these brushes made with a prayer for peace.
Koyudo’s President Tsuchiya Takemi during our interview
Koyudo began making calligraphy brushes in 1978 and makeup brushes in 2000. With makeup brushes, consumers prioritize not only functionality but also aesthetics, and Koyudo has come out with innovative designs such as heart-shaped brushes. They work to secure the future of Kumano brushes by honoring tradition while also pursuing innovation to create new value in their products.
The company’s makeup brushes were also featured during the previous G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting (2016), and later makeup brushes were made through the Kumanofude Cooperative and presented at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit. There was a desire to present makeup brushes at the G7 Hiroshima Summit as well, so they explored possible products that would reflect the meaning of the summit being held in Hiroshima, a city that has been hit by an atomic bomb. At that time, through a number of meetings and connections, they learned about the pruning of an a-bombed tree at Misasa Shrine in Hiroshima’s Nishi Ward.
Misasa Shrine’s camphor tree
The a-bombed tree at Misasa Shrine is a camphor tree that is roughly 120 years old. The tree was formerly located at a private home 1,850 meters from ground zero when the bomb was dropped. It was later relocated for protection at the shrine, where it maintains its dignified appearance to this day. Koyudo decided to use an a-bombed tree to make makeup brushes when they thought that perhaps by using pruned branches they could make a strong statement for peace to the world, that there are no obstacles that cannot be overcome.
Pruned branches are limited in supply, but President Tsuchiya’s desire was for as many people as possible to hold one in their hands. He decided to use the pruned branches in part of the handle in combination with cherry blossom wood used in Hiroshima-made wooden rice paddles. The result is a subtle, simple design made with respect to the a-bombed tree.
Wood from the a-bombed tree is used in part of the handle
The brushes use environmentally-friendly artificial hair made from plants such as corn. Kumano brushes typically use animal hair, but Koyudo decided to use artificial hair so that more people from all around the world would be able to use these brushes. Using traditional Kumano brush technology, the result is a brush that has the same high quality as animal hair, and the vanity cases are made using recycled paper from folded cranes offered up at the Memorial Mound in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
President Tsuchiya is deeply concerned about recently increasing threats to world peace, such as the war in Ukraine and conflict in Sudan. He explained the intension behind making these brushes saying, “Sufficient clothing, food, and housing is vital to peace, and while makeup may not have the highest priority, using it makes you smile, doesn’t it? I think makeup brushes can bring smiles, joy, and courage to people. If these makeup brushes could bring more smiles to the world, I think the a-bombed tree would be very happy with that.”
The year “2023” is carved into the handle to signify that they were made with branches pruned this year. These makeup brushes were made for the G7 Hiroshima Summit, but they intend to carry on the project into 2024 and 2025. President Tsuchiya passionately said, “I’d love for guests from overseas to take these brushes in their hands, bring them back to their home countries, and become messengers for peace by spreading the story of Hiroshima and a desire for peace to those around them. I’ll continue to use these brushes to spread smiles and send a message of peace.”
[Kumano Makeup Brush with a Prayer for Peace – Cheek Brush]
Limited to 200 brushes, sold at Orizuru Tower (Naka Ward, Hiroshima) and ekie in Hiroshima Station (Minami Ward, Hiroshima), ¥7,700 each (incl. tax)
■Koyudo Makeup Brush Workshop
Address 4-4-7 Hiradani, Kumano Town, Aki District, Hiroshima Prefecture
Hours 9:00 am ~ 5:00 pm *Excluding Sundays and holidays
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