Why Japanese Makeup Brushes?

When you hold a Japanese Fude (meaning ‘brush’, 筆) makeup brush, you hold centuries of tradition and hundreds of hours of work. Beyond the tradition and craftsmanship, Fude provide are gentle on sensitive and mature skin, and extend the longevity of makeup products – and are little pieces of visual delight. This makes Japanese makeup brushes ideal for any looking to upgrade or grow their existing makeup kit.

Japanese Fude are used by internationally renowned makeup companies like Chanel and Dior, who seek only the highest-quality brushes to support their premium brand status.

Discover what makes Japanese Fude brushes so special...

Centuries of History

Nestled in a mountainous area in Japan, the Kumano region produces the most revered makeup brushes in the world. The region is home to over 1000 artisans who use techniques refined over centuries. 

Japan is home to high-quality artisanal calligraphy and makeup brushes known as Kumanofude (Kumano brushes), traditional handmade brushes from the Kumano region in Hiroshima prefecture. Historically, the penmanship tools were sold by local farmers who had traveled away looking for work after the rice harvest ended, and brought back with them calligraphy brushes and ink from larger towns to sell at home in Kumano. During the Edo period, the brushes became so popular that they began to be produced locally, and the Kumano region’s brush making industry was born.

Today, Kumano is home to a number of artisan manufacturers who craft around 80% of all domestically made brushes. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has officially recognized Kumanofude brush-making as a traditional craft of Japan.

[READ: From Calligraphy to Makeup, the Evolution of Japanese Fude Brushes]

Expertly Handmade

Kumano brush makers understand the intricacies of their products - how to make ergonomic handles, leaving bristles uncut for a natural application, tightly applied ferrules for the perfectly formed unit. And that in addition to practicality, a brush’s appearance should inspire pride in its owner. Kumanofude are used by internationally renowned makeup companies like Chanel and Dior, who seek only the highest-quality brushes to support their premium brand status.

Kumano makeup brushes are produced by Japanese artisans with a long history of expertise in crafting handmade calligraphy tools, and are ideal for solving any makeup trouble and ensuring the best application possible.

The quality of craftsmanship by Japanese Kumanofude manufacturers is extremely high, and can require up to 10 years of training. Over those years of training, Kumanofude artisans to gain the knowledge required to be able to handle animal hairs for the bristles proficiently, as well as judge quality. Kumano Japanese makeup brushes require around 30 steps to create, and most of these steps are still done by hand. Great attention is paid especially to the most essential part of the brush—the tip—which are always handmade using traditional Kumano artisan techniques. Given the great care and precision used to make Kumano brushes, they are known to be more durable than other makeup brushes.

Bristle Tips are Hand-Bundled, Not Machine-Cut

The bristles are the most important feature of a brush, and the key factor that sets a good makeup brush apart from a poor one, as well as a handmade brush from a synthetic one. Like Kumano calligraphy brushes, makeup brushes produced in Kumano use natural animal hair such as goat, squirrel, and horse. The natural animal fibers used in Kumanofude brushes tend to hold powder and color pigment better for a more even application and natural look, blending out beautifully. They are also extremely soft to the touch.

The end of every bristle gently tapers into its own fine point, unlike synthetic brushes where the end of the bristles is machine-cut, which can irritate the skin due to the prickly exposed cross-section of the bristles.

While synthetic fibers have some benefits in the application, such as being useful for liquid and cream cosmetics, they are less effective at catching powder and can result in wasted makeup or poor blending.

High-Quality Materials

Inferior hairs are sorted out by hand using a special combing tool to prevent any rough hairs or stray, crooked bristles. Because the bristles of Kumano brushes are always handmade, the tip of the brush has a very slight natural unevenness to it, which allows the brush to make lighter contact with the face, ensuring a more even makeup application.

Kumano brush handles are typically made with Japanese wood or brass. The size and the thickness of a handle determine the brush’s use. Long, thin handles provide precise control for detail work such as applying eyeshadow and eyeliner, whereas fat, shorter handles provide excellent coverage and blending for powder and blush brushes.

The ferrule is the part of the brush that keeps the bristles at the tip attached to the handle. Usually made of metals such as brass, copper, or aluminum, the ferrule is stamped into a shape that controls how the bristles splay or fan out from the brush. High-quality brushes are made with a seamless metal tube, as a seamed ferrule may come apart over time causing the bristles to fall off of the brush handle. Glue is applied at the bottom of the ferrule, so when washing brushes are sure not to wet the ferrule, and brushes should never be left in the water. 

Makeup Performance & Preservation

From pro beauty artists to casual makeup wearers, we know the thought and care that goes into makeup application. However, a surprising number of people overlook the most important part of their makeup kit: brushes. A high-quality makeup brush makes a significant difference, not only for smooth and even control when applying makeup, but also for preserving makeup, and preventing acne and other skin problems. For example, applying liquid foundation with a sponge can lead to blackheads from pore-clogging bacteria, while applying it with one’s fingers can create an unpleasantly shiny finish from the oil glands in fingertips.

3 comments on What makes Japanese Fude Brushes so special?
  • Meghan DUCEY
    Meghan DUCEYSeptember 10, 2023

    It’s a privilege to find clear historical information about fude and 21st-century makeup brushes and shop all in one site. The salient features of some brush styles become clear to the brush user over time, as one learns with products and surfaces what effects can be achieved. Also, there is a feeling of an echo of traditional beauty practises and esthetics from centuries ago, far from the Western world. It is a wonderful introduction for any person wanting to learn more, in practise and by study.

  • Justine
    JustineSeptember 10, 2023

    Reading IKIGAI I am inspired and enthralled by the mindfulness approach to the craft of making these brushes. I would love to own something with this energy and beauty.

  • carla carson
    carla carsonJune 09, 2023


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