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Mall Entrance --> Mall Map --> 'Hon-baren' by Goto-san

'Hon' Barens
(Click photos on this page to see larger versions in a pop-up window)

Handmade Barens

There are not many people left in Japan who are willing to take on the extremely time-consuming job of making hon ('real') barens. It is an absolutely 'un-economic' job, as if the craftsman really priced his hourly labour at a sensible rate, these tools would be so expensive that nobody could possibly afford to buy them. Their work is really a 'labour of love'.

Our selection of barens on this page are from the Kikuhide workshop. Don't be misled by that word 'workshop', implying a group of people working together - this is completely a one-man operation. Every aspect of these barens is totally authentic, and everything is completely made by hand. The inner bamboo coils are made from finely braided 'shiradake' (white bamboo), and the backing disk from just about 50 sheets of fine washi, laid up one sheet per day until the appropriate thickness is reached, then covered with a layer of thin silk and finally topped off with lacquer.

They are absolutely beautiful tools ... not for everybody, but if you have built up a fair amount of experience in woodblock printmaking, then once you have a chance to try one of these tools, you will never be willing to go back to a cheaper option!

A Baren from the Kikuhide workshop


Here are a couple of snapshots of the extremely tedious process of making the inner coil ...


We are currently offering Kikuhide barens in the following types:

  • 8-strand (fine): thin paper, delicate carving, etc.
  • 8-strand (medium): average use
  • 8-strand (heavy): wide woodblocks ... thick paper
  • 12-strand (medium): colour blocks, (also good for wood engravings with ink)
  • 16-strand (medium): very strong baren, for colour blocks on heavy paper
  • 16-strand (fine): also strong, but less likely to leave striations in the colour

Special note: Each of these barens is made to your order - there is no stock on hand. Just how long it will take depends completely on how busy he is at any moment, so before ordering one of these barens, please send an email to the mall manager to ascertain the current schedule. Recent quotes have been on the order of 'three months', but do not be surprised when the reply comes that it may take up to half a year. Once the schedule has been confirmed, if you wish to proceed with having one made for you, then return here and make a deposit to initiate your order. When your baren is ready to be shipped, you will be contacted, and can then come back here and pay the balance.







8-strand (fine)



8-strand (medium)



8-strand (heavy)



12-strand (medium)



16-strand (medium)



16-strand (fine)





Order form for these barens

Select the appropriate item from the form above, then click on the 'Add to Cart' button.