Japanese wooden combs? Boxwood? Tsuge?

Japanese wooden combs
Japanese wooden hair combs, beauty, and heritage.

Wooden combs are regarded as objects of good luck, blessing, and sacred significance in Japanese culture, and are often used to express respect and blessings. Japanese wooden combs are not only a kind of daily necessity, but also a carrier of cultural tradition and spiritual value, reflecting the Japanese people’s treasure and inheritance of traditional culture.

Japanese wooden combs

The history of wooden combs in Japan can be traced back to ancient times, as early as the ancient Wabi-sabi era, the Japanese began to use wooden combs. In ancient Japanese society, wooden combs were considered a luxury item and were often used by nobles and courtiers. As time went by, wooden combs gradually became popular in the lives of ordinary people and became indispensable items in the daily lives of Japanese people.

1. Material of Japanese wooden combs

Japanese wooden combs are mostly made of high-quality wood, such as cherry blossom wood, cedar, tsuge, and so on.

  • Sakura wood: Sakura wood has a hard texture, fine grain, and light color, often used to make high-grade wooden combs.
  • Fir: Fir wood is soft, does not easily produce static electricity, suitable for combing hair.
  • Tsuge: tsuge is hard and durable, with natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties.

2. Japanese wood comb production process

The craftsmanship of making Japanese wooden combs is very unique and requires multiple processes and fine hand techniques.

  • Wood treatment: select high-quality wood, after drying and cutting.
  • Sanding: The surface of the wood is sanded with sandpaper or whetstone to make it smooth.
  • Carving: Carve according to the design requirements to increase the decorative nature of the comb.
  • Surface finishing: Apply wood wax or protective lacquer to increase the lustre and protection of the comb.

3. Importance of Japanese wood combs

In traditional Japanese culture, wooden combs are regarded as a symbol of status and position. In ancient times, aristocrats and courtiers often used fine wooden combs to represent their honorable status. Wooden combs are often collected and handed down as a traditional handicraft.

Japanese boxwood combs

1. Characteristics of boxwood

  • Boxwood is a hard wood with a fine texture and high durability.
  • The color of boxwood appears as dark yellow to dark brown, sometimes with some golden yellow streaks, which is very beautiful.
  • With a clear grain, boxwood is hard, durable, and not easily deformed, cracked, or discolored, making it suitable for high-quality wood products.

2. Advantages and uses of boxwood comb

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Japanese tsuge wood comb

Japanese Tsuge wooden combs are usually made from the Tsuge tree (scientific name: Brosimum rubrum), which is unique to Japan, where it is known as Tsuge, while in other countries it may be called Soro or Muntingia. it is a different species of tree from the Chinese boxwood (scientific name: Buxus sinica). Boxwood is also a wood commonly used for making wooden combs and other crafts and is popular for its fine wood and moderate hardness.

1. Features and advantages of tsuge wood

  • Unique wood grain: Tsuge wood has a beautiful wood grain with a unique pattern, which makes the crafts made from it not only practical but also of high ornamental value.
  • Moderate hardness: Tsuge wood is moderately hard, neither too soft nor too hard, which makes it easy to work with and allows for the creation of combs and other products in a variety of shapes and styles.
  • Good durability: Tsuge wood has good durability, and with proper processing and care, it will retain its shape and function for a long time, making it suitable for crafts that will be used for a long time.
  • Gentle touch: Crafts made of tsuge wood, such as wooden combs, are usually gentle to the touch and do not irritate the scalp, making them suitable for daily use.
  • Traditional craftsmanship: The craftsmanship of tsuge wood combs is inherited from traditional Japanese handicrafts, and each comb is a handmade work of art by craftsmen, full of cultural heritage.
  • Aroma: Certain tsuge woods emit a unique aroma during processing, which makes them not only a pleasurable experience to use but also makes the artifacts themselves collectible.

2. Design and use of tsuge wood combs


  • Craftsmanship: Tsuge wooden combs are usually handmade by experienced artisans, and each comb is a unique work of art.
  • Wood selection: Artisans carefully select tsuge wood for their combs, which is hard and beautifully grained to ensure the durability and beauty of the product.
  • Shapes and sizes: Tsuge wood combs come in a variety of shapes, from traditional Japanese round combs to more modern straight-handled combs, and in both large and small sizes to suit different people.
  • Detailing: Artisans carefully sand each side of the comb during the production process to ensure smooth, burr-free edges, making the comb minimize irritation to the scalp and hair when in use.


  • Daily brushing: The tsuge wooden comb is primarily used for daily combing of hair, providing a gentle and effective combing experience for both long and short hair.
  • Massaging the scalp: The comb’s tooth tips are sometimes designed with the need to massage the scalp in mind, helping to improve blood circulation and relieve scalp tension.
  • Hair care: Due to their gentle combing properties, tsuge wooden combs are also believed to help protect hair from damage by reducing static electricity.
  • Collection & decoration: Due to its unique design and handmade craftsmanship, tsuge wooden combs have also become a work of art and collector’s item, with some collectors specializing in collecting different designs and styles of tsuge wooden combs.

The status of comb in Japanese traditional culture

1. Boxwood comb

1.1. Status symbol

In traditional Japanese culture, the boxwood comb is seen as a symbol of status and position.

In ancient Japanese society, poplar combs were often used by aristocrats and upper-class people to represent their noble status and high position.

The elegant appearance and exquisite craftsmanship of boxwood combs show the owner’s taste and status.

1.2. Symbol of fortune

Boxwood is regarded as a kind of lucky wood, which has a certain symbolic meaning in Japanese culture.

Poplar wood has a tradition of warding off evil spirits and illnesses, so poplar combs are believed to ward off evil spirits and bring peace and good luck to their owners.

Poplar combs are often given as gifts to friends and relatives in the hope of conveying blessings and good wishes.

1.3. Traditional rituals

Poplar combs have an important place in certain occasions and festivals in Japan.

In wedding ceremonies, the boxwood comb is considered an auspicious and beautiful gift, symbolizing the happy reunion of the newlyweds.

In traditional festivals or celebrations, boxwood combs are also often used as one of the gifts to the gods or ancestors to express respect and blessings to the ancestors.

2. Tsuge wood comb

2.1. Considered auspicious

tsuge is considered a sacred symbol in Japan and is regarded as a good-luck object.

Yuzu is believed to have the power to ward off evil spirits and illnesses and is often used as an amulet.

tsuge combs are believed to ward off evil spirits, expel calamities avoid harm, and bless the bearer with peace and health.

2.2. Rituals and gifts

Tsuge combs play an important role in traditional Japanese rituals.

In Japanese marriage ceremonies, tsuge combs are used as wedding gifts to symbolize a happy life for the newlyweds.

Tsuge combs are often given to elders or relatives to express wishes for health and happiness.

tsuge combs are also given as valuable gifts during certain festivals or ceremonies to show respect and gratitude.

2.3. Inheritance of tsuge traditional craftsmanship

The craft of making tsuge combs is considered a valuable traditional craft that deserves to be passed on.

The making of tsuge combs requires skillful hand craftsmanship and superb carving techniques.

Each tsuge comb is a work of art made by craftsmen with great care and attention, displaying the essence of Japanese woodworking tradition.

In traditional Japanese culture, the tsuge comb not only serves a practical function but also carries the significance of treasuring and passing on good fortune, blessings, and traditional craftsmanship. Its existence is not only an amulet but also a cultural symbol of a better future and a happy life.


It can be seen that Japanese wooden combs have a rich historical background and traditional cultural significance, and are one of the most important representatives of traditional Japanese handicrafts. Different kinds of Japanese wooden combs, such as Japanese boxwood combs and Japanese tsuge wood combs, have their characteristics and merits. As a traditional handicraft, the craftsmanship of Japanese wooden combs is worth cherishing and passing on.

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