An Inside Look at Takada Tawashi

Tell us a little bit about the company.

Takada is a Japanese scrub brush specialty store. Since we first opened 1948, we have developed and produced tawashi brushes, adapting and evolving our designs over the years to meet the shifting maintenance needs for each new generation of homemaker.

How did the company start?

In the 1930's, Kainan City in Wakayama Prefecture was a thriving region known for producing scrub brushes and brooms. During that time, my father worked as a brush craftsman, producing brushes by hand from his home. 

I eventually inherited this technique and established Takada Kozo Shoten in 1948.

What is your process for making Tawashi?

First, we harvest palm bark from palm tree trunks. Harvested palm bark is then processed into individual fibers using a threshing machine, which are cut according to the ideal length for the types of brushes being manufactured. The cut fibers are then gathered between the wires, twisted and bundled all at once. At this point they become bound into a stick-shaped scrubbing brush and the ends of the brush hairs are cleaned using a special machine. The brush is now ready to be bent into a U shape, which is done using pliers to wrap the wire on one end around the other wire. Once properly shaped, brush ends are re-inspected thoroughly and trimmed with scissors as necessary. 

How does sustainability fit into your brand?

As a tool maker, I believe that the best materials are environmentally friendly. Using those materials purposefully will lead to sustainability by eliminating the need for replacement, which we feel is more effective than applying an environmental initiative to a product only expected to last a few years. 

Palm fibers have long been known and trusted as a durable material in Japan.

In the past, people in Japan were more well-versed in choosing the right material for the right task so it is natural that palm fibers were the material of choice for brushes and brooms.

Where do you see yourself and your brand in 10 years?

Due to environmental concerns, there are still consumer hesitations about scrubbing brushes, so I want to first dispel these notions and clarify what makes us different. Sadly, many scrubbing brushes are still made using materials that are condemned by UN sustainability recommendations, while our palm fiber brushes are built to last using natural components that stay true to our value of using the right material for the right task.

Our next 10 years might pass in the blink of an eye, and, in that time, we may only ask people to try our palm brushes to feel for themselves our superior build quality over ordinary scrubbing brushes.

It is very difficult to sell scrubbing brushes overseas, so the first step will be to illustrate that our brushes are a good companion for Japanese tools.

For example, as Japanese wooden chopping boards grow in popularity overseas, palm brushes are emerging as indispensable tools for domestic maintenance.

I think that normalizing the relationship with and use of such a compatible tool is the shortcut to integrating our brushes into people’s lives and kitchens.

We hope that by continuing to make high-quality tools, our work will be recognized by manufacturers from a variety of industries and backgrounds so that we can mutually compliment each others’ utility and strengths.

We carry a collection of Takada's products, which you can shop here.