Washi (Japanese paper) in Japan

When you visit Japan, you will see lantern with unique Japanese paper called Washi. “WA” in Japanese in this case, means Japanese and “SHI” in this case means paper in Japanese.

Washi is a Japanese paper with long history and softer texture than Western paper.

Traditionally, it has been made by hand, but these days, some are made by machines with the use of non traditional ingredients.

These machine made washi does not have the same characters.

According to Japanese Wikipedia website here, Washi is known to have much  longer fiber compared to Western paper and, even if they are thinner, it is stronger (tough) and lasts longer and has its own unique texture.

History and usage of Washi (Japanese paper)..

Japanese paper has been made for more than 1,000 years from local plants like Kouzou (paper mulberry) and mitsumata, mixed with pure river water.

There are several area famous for Washi making.

One of them is Mino city in Gifu prefecture in Japan.

Gifu prefecture is located in the center of the main island.

Mino city is also famous for street which are in the style of the early Edo period (1603-1868).

The Washi made in Mino city is called Mino washi and highly respected in our culture.

Japanese paper making history has several theories but, according to Japanese wikipedia website, evidence you can find as paper usage is around 4 century where we started recording events on paper.

By the beginning of 6 century, paper making has started.

By the middle of 6 century, family registration on paper has begun (and we still have ko-se-ki system,where you report birth,moving, marriage,death and all that and all of those are recorded in the municipal system.).

Mino city is facing Japan’s famous water Nagara River and being surrounded by rich green mountains.

Mino washi paper is not only used for these important documentation but also used for interior items such as lantern, umbrella,paper fan (u-chi-wa), restoration for Conservation of Cultural Property.

Washi Japanese paper itself can be used for envelopes, postcards, letter paper, and business cards too.

How Mino Washi paper is made..

Below, you can watch how Mino Washi is made but here are the break down of general method of making them.

1.The bark of kouzou and mitsumata are soaked in the water to soften them.

2.The softened barks and water are placed in water and they are boiled with soda ash.

3.The bark is struck to break down the fiber into small pieces

4.Fibers and tororoaoi (suspension material made from yum) are put into water tank and mixed

5.Paper is made by sheet,using the paper mold

6.The water is drained from the paper.Paste paper which is brushed onto the board to dry.

Mino Washi Japanese paper..

If you know me, I am kind of a person who is interested in hands on experience/cultural stuff more than simply looking around the building and all that when traveling.

When my husband and I were still dating, I planned a visit to Kobe city in Japan (western part of Japan in main island). Kobe had paper making place where tourists can go there with appointment and learn how paper is made.

I thought it would be interesting for both of us and we visited the spot,and watched and learned how paper is made、 and we got to make our own paper too using the rectangle screen with two hand hold area as shown in the youtube video.

It was a lot of fun.

Here are some articles I found on Mino washi paper.

You can read the washi article at japanesepaperplace website here.

If you visit Mino city and interested in Mino Washi, you can visit Mino Washi museum there. Here is their official website for you to learn more about the museum.

Jul 18, 2016 | 3 | Japan

3 Responses to “Washi (Japanese paper) in Japan”

  1. Sally Hummel Says:

    I really liked learning about Japanese paper! Something so simple like paper, and what a difference between the two countries! I love your interest in learning about new things! I’m a lot like that too!

  2. johnnie maleszewski Says:

    So very interesting, enjoyed seeing this very much, thank you for sharing!

  3. johnnie maleszewski Says:

    Very interesting and enjoyable to watch, thanks for sharing!

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