Beauty, Expression, Hieno, Japan
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Kumano: History, Beauty and Community.

Today’s feature is on a quaint, green Japanese town– Kumano. Unlike big Japanese cities–Tokyo, Hokkaido, Kyoto and Osaka–Kumano (in Hiroshima) is off the mass-tourism radar. Yet, beauty junkies globally know that Kumano is home to the highly raved Hakuhodo make-up brushes.

In 2008, I did a home-stay in Kumano. As the birthplace of the influential global organization Mayors for Peace, Kumano too advocates peace via community-based tourism. Compared to mass-tourism, community-based tourism is definitely more sustainable, environmentally-friendly and provides more opportunities for conversation with locals. A hotel stay for instance, can never give you the privilege of exchanging world views with locals who have opened their houses and hearts to you. Those sharing over sake are priceless.

Outside my host family's house in Kumano town, Hiroshima.

My host father and I.

We visited the Kumano Brush Museum:

A signboard explaining the history of the legendary Kumano Brushes.

History of the legendary Kumano Brushes.

During the start of Showa period, demand for writing brushes increased. The Kumano village decided to specialize in the production of these brushes, which gradually expanded to cosmetics brushes. Today, 15 million high-quality Kumano brushes are produced annually.

A Kumano brush is always special because each premium brush is handmade by skilled craft-men.

Taken on a polaroid. A huge Kumano brush and I!

Taken on a polaroid. A huge Kumano brush and I!

More photos:


The many types of brushes.


History of brush


After the museum, we went farming:







The Kumano City Organization actively plans and runs small guided tours. Tourism revenues go entirely to local communities.

Sixty years ago during World War II, the atomic bombing in Hiroshima not only took thousands of innocent lives; it left their land and economy in ruins. Today, wounds remain raw. With a small town population of 24,000, a typical citizen in Kumano inevitably knows someone who perished in that catastrophe. Grannies recount the day of the bombing when black rain fell. Because of this trauma, locals are determined to champion peace in today’s increasingly chaotic world.

“Let’s advocate peace with the world, our environment, and within ourselves.”–A farmer told me.

Indeed, peace isn’t quiet–it is proactive! Tourism in Kumano is more noble than bringing about economic, social and cultural benefits to locals– It really is about the healing process. By showcasing Kumano’s beautiful culture, hosting me as an international tourist was the local’s way of reconciliation with the world, post-war. To the global community, tourism in Kumano is a powerful political song and testimony for world peace.

After farming, my host mother prepared gyudon for dinner.
And sashimi for breakfast the next day. a31
 Here’s the family cat who sleeps with me on my futon
…And the view outside my room.
After six years, I still recall this homestay experience fondly.
Thank you, Kumano.



    • Hey Konnichiwa, Lorraine! Yes I did. Haha, I assume that you are comparing Hiroshima okonomiyaki with Oosaka’s? 🙂 I like both actually!

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