ABOUT Sendai Ofude
A writing brush made from a craftsman’s labor produced only in Sendai
The origin of Sendai Ofude (writing brush) began when Matabei Komura, a very skilled brush maker from Osaka, started to serve Sendai Clan’s first lord Masamune Date. In the year 1614 (Keicho era 19th) Date wanted to encourage his lower ranked soldiers to make brushes as a side business. After Matabei settled down in Sendai, Sendai Ofude’s production increased in Sanbyakunin-machi, a local area where three hundred common gun soldiers lived in and also in Renbokouji (Wakabayasi ward).
People in Edo (Tokyo), Osaka, and Kyoto started to take notice of this beautiful writing brush and as the word spread, Sendai Ofude became more popular.
The different types of brushes evoke reminders of the regions their materials are made from. The “Hagifude” with its shaft made out of Miyaginohagi (Lespedeza thunbergii ), has a deep connection to Sendai, Miyagi. “Goshikifude”, a set of five brushes with their shafts made out of Hagi (Japanese bush cover), pine tree, Japanese pampas grass, phragmites and polygonum became popular after the Meiji era. It is commonly believed that people use the word “Ofude” for brush, when they dedicate the brushes to Showa Emperor. Since then the writing brush made in Sendai have resulted in it being called “Sendai Ofude”.
In most brush productions are always divided between several craftsmen. The making of Sendai Ofude is unique in that the procedure is one craftsman handles all the processes to make a writing brush. They use high quality raw wool for the brushes, because they are whippy and hold ink well. It is created by these highly skilled craftsman to be able to last forever. At one time there were approximately 100 workshops during the early Showa era, but now only the “Otomo writing brush shop” is left. There is now only one craftsman who practices the traditional skill to continue making Sendai Ofude in Sanbyakunin-machi, the same place where they established the business in the year of Meiji 8(1875) .
Otomo writing brush shop