Home Brushes A Traditional Brush, a very special Place

A Traditional Brush, a very special Place

by Sonia G.

A very striking moment during my short stay in Japan was when I suddenly realized that actually, I was on Holiday!
This precise moment happened when I boat landed in the isle of Miyajima. The excitement and stress of the first encounters with my contacts in Kumano had calmed down and I finally switched to an acceptable and relaxing brain speed mode.

Recently, Hakuhodo Japan sent me a beautiful Christmas card with a picture of the torii and it reminded me of my beautiful trip to the island, today I would like to take some time to tell you a bit more about the trip and show you a special lip brush I haven’t yet shared with you.




I know some of you want to visit Kumano, if you go there, you need to take some time to visit Hiroshima and specially Miyajima. The landscape is surreal, you are sitting in a bench with deer lying or walking all around you. Children giggling and playing with them,  a very zenifying atmosphere that will hit you very hard with emotions, you simply cannot miss that.

First let me show you this special brush, when I exchanged souvenir with Hakuhodo’s Manager, Mr Takamoto, he offered me 3 traditional Japanese brushes, I knew I had to bring something from Switzerland but I wasn’t expecting also to get a present myself. One of the brushes he offered me is this “Craftsman” lip brush, made with kolinsky hair. It is very different from what we are used to see, the ferrule is assembled in a slanted mode around the brush and you can barely feel the line between the black ferrule and the red handle, it’s so nicely attached.

The Hakuhodo logo on the brush is painted in silver, the handle is made of wood, the ferrule is chromed brass. It feels light but of great quality.


When it’s dry, the shape is not conical and the head is not tapered and you wonder what to do with it since it’s not very precise at all.


It’s made of 100% kolinsky, therefore very soft and although it’s flexible, it is firm enough to paint the lips with moderate control, not a lot of control here but more like an art feeling to it.


The Hakuhodo S141 is also a kolinsky brush and has the same length of hair (1.8cm) but not the similar shape. The most interesting feature is that since it’s kolinsky, it’s appropriate for powder, liquids and creams. I use the S141 with gels, cream shadows and concealer. It does wonders to highlight the inner corner of the eyes or to place thick paintpot textures near the upper lashline before blending with other thicker brushes.


This craftsman brush next to the S141  is a lipstick/eyeliner brush more appropriate for Geisha makeup, absolutely unique and even if I don’t apply Geisha makeup, this is a wonderful brush to own as a collector and lover of Japanese Traditions.
When you damp the brush with product it gets pointy and more controllable, I have been playing with it and admiring it and I found a way I can actually use it for makeup routine “therapies”. Since it has to be damped to get a more pointy shape, I first press and “roll it” on a lipgloss wand (this is to shape it as you pick the product), once it has a bit of product I then do the same but with lipstick, then it’s pointy enough to follow the shape of your lips and softly apply colour.  This is the shape when it’s wet :


Nobody told me how to use it so I just play around until I get some connection with the brush, even if it’s not its original purpose.

Just like a lip brush, it needs to be washed after each use and I will actually use it more for the love of tradition than the efficiency for a daily use, but still, a great honour to own it and great fun using it.

Now, for those of you who are planning the trip to Kumano, you should do your best to plan the Miyajima visit, it doesn’t take long to get there and it’s super easy and cheap but even if you had to pay, or spend a day just for that trip, it’s absolutely a must-see.

If you already have a JR train pass, the train to Miyajimaguchi (where you can take the ferry) is free, and in the ferry pier the JR ferry is also included in your pass, it won’t cost you anything but you have to take that one and not the other ferries. It takes 25 mn by train from Hiroshima central station, then 10 mn by boat!

The first thing I noticed when I got there was this sign :



I knew about the deer but I thought it was difficult to see them, but then I looked just at my right and they were everywhere !! Even one crossing the pedestrian path :


Now, you tell me if this is surreal or not… you can just sit and have a conversation with them, not that they would understand me but who did anyway ??



“Hello there, you have a nice umbrella… do you have any food for me?”



A very close call…

Children hugging and patting the deer and not caring about anything at all …


You better watch or else…  !!


In the distance you can see the boat that makes the trip and see how close you are to the ferry pier.


Walking on the sand felt amazing, relaxing, it was not very busy and I could enjoy my walk peacefully.



I sat there for a long while, didn’t want to go anywhere, just enjoy the peace and the view…


Then a man asked me for help to take a pic of him with the shrine and then he asked if he could do the same for me… and I said yes 🙂


I was very swollen and it was a sign that I was going to be sick (gluten-lactose, etc), I was so sick in the evening and the day after in Kyoto that I could barely walk but I just could not resist the food counters in the island! I wanted to try everything and of course that had consequences. This, plus then the cappucino at the Yojiya cafe, I was really being optimistic 🙂

If you walk inside the island, you have the food counters, there are so so so many things that you will want to try all, the noise and the atmosphere becomes more intense and busy but near the shrine it’s quiet and very calm. This little island is so full of history, temples, walks, you certainly need more than a few hours to properly enjoy it.

There are ceremonies held there and you can enter the shrine corridor (Kairo), you have to pay but it’s really something to do. Have a look at this site, they have nice pictures of the corridor.





A ceremony was taking place, with an impressive samurai and I was lucky to be able to enjoy a little part of it. It’s not only about the visual, but the sounds and the smell are hypnotizing.


I didn’t walk to the top of the island but next time I will…  many things to see, your agenda would be full for the whole day and more if you wish.




The exit of the Kairo :



Then I left, went to pick up my luggage at the hotel and took the JR train from Hiroshima to Kyoto. If you plan a similar trip, remember to book your JR train seat in the morning providing you know when you are travelling. I didn’t because I had no idea when I would be back from the island so I had to wait in Hiroshima for the next available train which was in rush hour and quite busy. I was sad to leave Hiroshima and wished I could have stayed there for the night.

I spent 3 nights in Hiroshima and it wasn’t enough days to visit. You will certainly enjoy the shopping, the culture, the food, the organization and the people, they are extremely kind and generous and it was breaking my heart to have to leave.

I take this opportunity to thank Miki and Mr Takamoto for the lovely card, with beautiful drawings and sweet words 🙂

Gosh… I really want to go back…



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Stephanie 27 December, 2013 - 10:52 pm

I want to go to Miyajima so badly!!! It is considered one of the “three views of Japan”. Another one is Matsushima, where I went a couple winters ago. I highly recommend going there as well.

I am glad you had such a good time in Hiroshima. 🙂 It is funny, the pictures make it look so nice and cool, but as you and I know, it was actually terribly hot and sticky!

That ceremony is actually a wedding! Wow, what a beautiful place to get married. I love the wedding kimono. In Japan they do not buy wedding clothes; they rent them. My friend got married a few years ago, and renting the wedding kimono was roughly $1000 USD! So much. @_@

Japanese cards are always so beautiful. I wonder if the artist used a brush from Kumano to paint it? 😉

Sweet make up temptations 28 December, 2013 - 6:58 pm

Hello Stephanie!
yes it was hot and sticky!! I was melting 😀
I did not know what the ceremony was exactly, thanks for the info! this is such a beautiful place to get married! I wonder how long the ceremony lasts…
waw, 1000usd to rent the kimono ? phewww
The card is so beautiful, I can use it to decorate the room since the theme is quite discrete, it’s totally fine to leave it framed all year round 🙂
if you ever plan to go to Kumano next year and that falls when I will be there I hope we can do the Miyajima trip together!

Stephanie 7 January, 2014 - 6:24 pm

It would be great to go together! But, I suggest next time, going to Japan in the spring or fall, although the summer IS beautiful. 😉 I have been all seasons except for the spring! D: I really want to see cherry blossoms!

Mia 28 December, 2013 - 12:47 am

Sonia I have always wanted to go to Japan! Maybe one day I like everything about it the people and the culture. Thank you so much for posting such beautiful pictures. Sorry that you got sick but no one would ever know it you look beautiful.

Sweet make up temptations 28 December, 2013 - 6:59 pm

thank you Mia, so sweet, it’s my pleasure. I hope you will go there and then you tell us 🙂

Ann C. 28 December, 2013 - 2:51 am

Wow! Great pictures! It makes me want to go back to visit NOW! Lol
Thanks for sharing.

Kay 28 December, 2013 - 4:25 am

Sonia, thank you for such lovely photos and memories of Miyajima! What totally amazed me was that the Japanese tourists calmly lined up on the pier that was in front of the torii rather than rushing/crowding to the pier’s front edge. When it was your turn, you handed your camera to the person in back of you, walked to the front edge of the pier, turned around, and got your photo taken! No one organized it, everyone just seemed to know what to do! I’ve never experienced that anywhere else.

Sweet make up temptations 28 December, 2013 - 7:12 pm

yes it’s stunning, their attitude adds a “zen” accent to the holidays and when you come back it’s difficult to re-adapt here.. I have experienced kindness that I never did anywhere else in the world.
Old men rushing to help me when I was lost, old ladies handing their umbrella to me, walking me to my hotel when I was lost, asking everywhere for help in order to show me, “fear” is not felt anywhere and respect is something that is missing in most places, not there.

Raglo 28 December, 2013 - 10:11 am

So sweet. You want to go back and I want to just go 🙂

Sweet make up temptations 28 December, 2013 - 7:20 pm

I can see great things in the future for you Olga 🙂 I am sure you will go there, you have talent and you are determined!

Bea 29 December, 2013 - 3:52 pm

Sigh…… just…sigh….. lol!

It’s also nice to see you in one of your photos!

Sweet make up temptations 30 December, 2013 - 12:22 am

^_^ thank youuu ! I loved to see Melissa in her pictures, our super cute little agent on a mission 😛

Nikki 30 June, 2014 - 8:03 am

I am Japanese and left there as a child but even so,your pictures filled me with nostalgia. Do you know about beni? A dear friend recently sent me the authentic stuff purchased at the Beni Museum in Tokyo. It came in a porcelain tiny bowl with the precious substance painted on the inside complete with a brush similar to yours. You add water and depending on the amount it is supposed to produce everything from pale pink to geisha red complete with a slight green iridescence The set is so exquisite that I can’t bear to use it yet but seeing your post has made me excited about using the brush.

Sweet Make-Up Temptations 2 July, 2014 - 11:37 pm

that sounds so lovely, no I don’t know about Beni but I will enquire for sure, I am very intrigued! thank you for sharing! that is a wonderful gift you got!

Vera 8 February, 2015 - 7:47 pm

Hey Sonia

Japan is beautiful! you’ve captured Miyajima so perfectly i wish I visited when I was there! How did you end up meeting Hakuhodos GM? Did you visit their head office?

Rubaiyat Rahman 23 September, 2019 - 6:48 am

Japan is sooo beautiful. I cant wait to visit. I will most definitely take a long holiday to travel there and visit as many places as possible. What is the white porcelain piece where you are kept your brush? I think its so simple and beautiful I want one


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