- “Japanese paper” is registered as intangible cultural heritage for its thinness, strength, and beauty.
- All papers are made by hand. A Visit to “Ogawa-washi,” Kubo paper manufacturer.
- The reason why each soaked paper doesn’t stick together.
- Keep the tradition and history of handmade Washi.
“Japanese paper” is registered as intangible cultural heritage for its thinness, strength, and beauty.
On November 27th, 3 types of Japanese papers; Sekishu-washi from Shimane Prefecture, Hon Minogami from Gifu Prefecture, and Hosokawa-gami, all from Saitama Prefecture were registered into the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage for its traditional art of “washi” style paper making. Japanese paper or “Washi,” came from China and was evolved into world-astonishing thinness, strength, and beauty made through manual procedures. Ingredients are bark fibers, such as paper mulberry, paper-bush, and Gampi. Using mucus of sunset hibiscus to stir the fibers is also Japan’s own technique.
※The ingredients, paper mulberries
All papers are made by hand. A Visit to “Ogawa-washi,” Kubo paper manufacturer.
I went to Ogawa-city, in Saitama Prefecture and enjoyed the sound of wind, songs from birds, and the tranquil scenery. In the traditional old studio, I watched the “Nagashi-suki” technique that requires a lot of experience. They use a wooden frame called “Suki-keta,” and swung the paper with it. Through this craftsmanship, thin and strong beautiful paper can be made.
The quality of paper is largely dependent upon humidity and temperatures. No matter how bad the conditions are the craftsman can still maintain a certain quality. I’ve also tried my hand at it with a smaller Suki-keta, but it was unexpectedly heavy, and the swinging procedures were very difficult. The water must be very cold, so I imagine it is in high demand during the winter.
The reason why each soaked paper doesn’t stick together.
The raw papers are piled up one by one very neatly and they don’t stick to one other after swinging and draining the water properly. You need to settle the paper’s fiber down otherwise it will swell up and stick together. This means that each sheet of paper is already very neat when it’s wet. After draining the water from the pile of papers and sun drying for a day, it’s finally finished.
Keep the tradition and history of handmade Washi.
Recently, washi became more available to us thanks to machinery manufacturing. On the other hand, old traditional style of handmade washi has decreased. Vivid washi made out of machines are also good, but handmade washi is very nice and warm. I feel relieved at the sight of fusuma, shoji screens, and letter paper created this way with its unique soft textures. The traditional art of washi making is one of the most important assets I wish to carry over to future generations.
■To reserve workshop. Please contact here,
Kubo paper manufacture Ltd.
WEB SITE (Information is offered only in Japanese)：http://homepage2.nifty.com/ogawa_washi/index.htm
※A card made by the writer HATSU. It has a brilliant colour.
1116-2 Ogawa, Ogawa city, Hiki district, Saitama Pref.