Colorful, Traditional Patterns on Washi Paper

Chiyogami is the traditional decorative Japanese paper made from Washi paper. It features traditional colorful patterns used for Origami and other decorative items. Chiyogami is divided into Kyo-Chiyogami and Edo-Chiyogami. The Kyo-Chiyogami pattern is mainly a quiet design with the traditional beauty of nature and The Edo-Chiyogami patterns are bold and free. Chiyogami has a textured feel to the touch, compared to smoother foreign paper. Traditional patterns like cranes and hemp leaves are unique to the tastes of Japan. It is fun to look at the beautiful, colorful, patterns.


Ukiyo-e block prints are designs used for all classes of people

The origins of Chiyogami date back 1700 years ago to Kyoto. It was used for gift-wrapping by court nobles and was a familiar part of court culture. After the end of the 18th century, it was given to Edo (present day Tokyo) and was re-developed through the technique of Ukiyo-e multicolored printing giving it the name, Edo-Chiyogami. During this century, Chiyogami art directors would order special designs from Ukiyo-e artists. From this, Chiyogami became popular at Ukiyo-e shops, and more available to ordinary citizens.

【Photo by  Dominic Alves】
【Photo by Dominic Alves

Enjoying Chiyogami

Long-established Chiyogami studios have printed beautiful Chiyogami to Washi paper from wood blocks with more than 1000 kinds of patterns. Washi paper shops and paper craft shops stock not only small square small sized Chiyogami, but also the wide type Chiyogami. A Wide wood block print would sell for 2,600 yen. You can buy the small, cheaper Chiyogami as an origami set with several patterns at a supermarket or a stationery shop for 200 yen. There are many other ways to use Chiyogami such as, making decorative boxes and covers for books.

You can see traditional Chiyogami at Isetastu, a store from the Edo period. If you visit Japan, please stop by.

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Writer/ Translator

I love Japanese folkcraft article, traditional handicrafts and antiques. I’m seeking the Japanese people’s religious outlooks and its origins that are behind Japanese people’s unique sense and techniques rooted in the ordinary life.