Ryushido – High-end Handmade Kyoto Brushes
Tucked away in the calligraphy center of Kyoto, Teramachi Marutamachi, the calligraphy brush and tool specialist Ryushido has been serving calligraphy newcomers and experts alike since 1781.
Offering everything from every day to expert tools, Ryushido is at the top of its class when it comes to the share range on offer. In addition to brushes, Ryushido also has a vast array of calligraphy paper, postcards, ink and inkstones. However, with over 400 different brushes in stock, its needless to say that their signature item is, their brushes.
In line with this, Ryushido is especially well known for its massive range of Kyoto made brushes. What makes this particularly impressive is the fact that despite the number of brush makers declining year after year, the over 230-year-old Ryushido is able to maintain a stock of local Kyoto made brushes thanks to their relationships with craftsmen and makers.
— “Although craftsmen made brushes may be expensive, their value becomes clear the moment you use them. Not only are they satisfying to use, but they are sure to give you a lot of use.” — Ninth generation owner Ogawa
The moment you see a brush, you can tell by the beauty in the uniformity and angle of its tip whether its made in Kyoto or not.
Brushes vary greatly depending on the length, thickness and hair used in the bristles. With over 400 different brushes, you’re sure to find your perfect brush at Ryushido.
Whether you’re looking to get deeper into calligraphy or start it has a hobby, Ryushido is definitely a store to check out.
/ Extra-large: ¥20,000｜Large: ¥10,000｜Medium: ¥7,000｜Small: ¥5,000｜Extra-small: ¥4,000 (all excl. tax)
Yamashiro is a popular base level Kyoto brush. The bristles are made of entirely nonsynthetic nylon tanuki fur and sheep’s wool. The handles of the extra-small to medium brushes are made of bamboo, giving them a wonderfully natural feel.
Take your time handling each size and see which one is the right one for you.
/ ￥3,000 (excl. tax)
This instone set contains a brush, ink, an inkstone and a container for water. The small light blue piece of pottery is called a mizusashi and is used to hold the water needed for the ink. After pouring about a coin-sized amount into the front side of the inkstone, take the hard block of ink and begin rubbing it in a circular motion. Once you’ve adjusted the amount of water and ink and found your desired thickness of ink, you’ll be ready to dip your brush in and start.
This compact set gives you everything you need, and the box’s cute too, so it’s a great choice for a souvenir.
3Check it out!
/ Large: ¥5,000｜Medium: ¥4,500｜Small: ¥4,000｜Extremely Small: ¥3, 500 (all excl. tax)
Shiko are a series of incredibly fine-tipped mensofude brushes that showcase the raw talent of the brush makers. Made with high-end weasel fur, these brushes are characterized by their tough, yet flexible bristles that make for a wonderful release. Also, as the britles are arranged incredibly skillfully, the brushes work best for painting extremely thin lines. Additionally, if you feel that the bristles are a little too long for your liking, you can take them out and adjust their length.
If you’re a painter, then we highly urge you try at least one of these brushes for yourself.
4Check it out!
/ ￥700– (excl. tax)
Ryushido’s hariko are popular little ornaments made from reused calligraphy paper. In addition to the animal designs like the cat and monkey pictured above, there are also Kyoto themed designs as well, such as the symbol of Kyoto summers, Gozan no Okuribi (pictured in the back). As these small figurines are made entirely of reused calligraphy paper, they are incredibly light and relatively unlikely to break compared to something like pottery. So if you’re on a bit of a hunt for odd souvenirs, then these might be just what you’re looking for.
Since the hariko are handmade, they’re only available in limited quantities, and since they change every season, you won’t know which cute figure you’ll run into until you get there.