Let me share my father’s choices and thoughts on brushes for painting netsuke.
– My father uses fine point brushes known as menso fude (lit. brushes for facial features / facial appearance).
– Good brushes are elastic and durable, while bad brushes split at the tip.
– A brush that has been used for ink should not be used for pigments, and vice versa.
– Among menso brushes, my father recommends the type known as rori menso (brushes made from the fur of weasel and raccoon dog). The rori memso brushes have several varieties in size, and he particularly recommends the smallest type called bessho.
– To paint the lips of human figures, he most often uses a type of menso brush called hakkei. While the hair of menso fude is usually brown, that of hakkei is white: thus the red color (a vermilion pigment) can be seen easily when mixing the pigment with water and glue. The shortness of the hair of hakkei is also advantageous for painting lips.
My father learned about the rori menso at Tokuoken, an art supply store specializing in Japanese-style painting. It is a long-established store located in Yanaka, Tokyo. Due to its proximity to the Tokyo University of the Arts, their customers include a number of professors of the University.
He says that it was the father of the current female owner/manager of the store who kindly taught him various things about brushes and pigments, for which he is very thankful.
Tokuoken website (Japanese language only): https://www.tokuouken.co.jp
My father’s rori menso brushes are inscribed “made by Seishindo.” This suggests that these were produced by the Seishindo studio, and my father bought them at Tokuoken.
Rori menso: https://seishindoabe.com/p/rori-menso/
(Japanese language only. Unfortunately they don’t do international selling or shipping).