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Japanese Traditional Craft Resource Center Category


Japanese Traditional Craft

Craft Category Papermaking
Name Yatsuo washi paper

Main Production Site:Toyama

Yastuo-machi is a town full of natural beauty. Long ago, it was a bustling business center located along the trade routes of the time. Trade with merchants from the adjacent Hida area (current Northern Gifu Prefecture in Central Japan), along with various local businesses brought prosperity to the town. These included silkworm farming, producing and selling of medicinal items, and of course, Yatsuo washi paper. Handmade in this town, Yatsuo washi has not traditionally been produced as paper to write on; rather, it has been crafted and developed as a base material for creating other products, such as sachets and carrier cases used in the medicinal products vending of the region.

During Yatstuo-matchi's most productive period back in the early Meiji Era (19th-20th century), many families made washi paper to earn a living during the cold winter when farming was suspended. There was even a common saying: "There is no family among the thousand in Yatsuo that does not make paper."

Handmade washi paper is generally thought to be delicate and easily torn. Washi paper made in the Ecchu (Central Japan) area, including Yatsuo washi, has set itself apart by being so durable that it can function as a base material to make other paper products.
The age-old papermaking tradition of Yatsuo washi has been preserved and passed on to today’s artisans, and long-lasting paper products made from it are appreciated and enjoyed by many.

[Ecchu washi is designated as "Traditional Craft Product" by Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry]
Information provided by Keijusha

Translation by: Misa Imanaka-Miller

Materials Paper mulberry, edgeworthia, gampi barks
Crafting Processes 1) Maceration
Soak in water and macerate the dried bark from trees such as paper mulberry, edgeworth, and gampi.

2) Boiling
Boil the bark in caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) or soda ash solution for two hours.

3) Washing and bleaching
Wash the boiled bark in clean water as many times as needed to reach the desired brightness. Washing removes alkaline residues as well as unwanted matter, including non-hemicellulose materials such as lignin and pectin. Bleaching agents can be added if necessary.

4) Cleaning
While keeping the bark under water, remove dirt, specks and other imperfections by hand.

5) Beating
Beat the bark and separate the fibers to make the pulp.

6) Pulling sheet
In a vat, mix water, pulp and "neri" (a mucilaginous material extracted from taro roots) into a slurry. This helps the fibers to distribute evenly in the water. Using a screen laid in a deckle, scoop the slurry and shake it back and forth to coalesce the fibers into a sheet. Place the freshly made paper sheets (shito) one by one to make up a pile.

7) Pressing
Remove water from the sheets by pressing the pile.

8) Drying
Peel the pressed sheets one by one and dry them on a flat surface such as a metal or wooden board.

9) Quality check
Each sheet is carefully examined for its quality.
History Papermaking in Yatsuo peaked between 1688 and 1704 in the Genroku Era, when the 2nd Domain Lord of Toyama, Masatoshi Maeda, took an active role in encouraging medicine vending throughout the area. His actions caused dramatic growth and a huge demand for paper products used in the medicinal businesses in the area, such as medicine sachets, ointment paper, thin paper strips for binding, and logbooks used in record-keeping.

According to a wholesale paper pricing handbook published in the first year of the Keio era (1865) by a paper merchant in Toyama, Yatsuo paper was available in various colors including grey, yellow, red, and blue. This indicates the dyeing technique in this area was utilizing plants and other pigments, and was quite advanced for the time. These techniques are still being used in Yatsuo washi papermaking, and the area still produces the largest amount of hand made paper in Japan.
Related URL http://www.keijusha.com/

◆Exhibition / Showcase
668-4 Kagami-machi, Yatsuo-cho,
Toyma City, 939-2341, Japan
TEL +81-(0)76-455-1184 (Japanese only)
FAX +81-(0)76-455-1189

Washi papers are in display at Keijusha's paper mill; "Washi Bunko". Papermaking workshops are also available at the mill.

Hours: 10:00 - 17:00 (Door closes at 16:30)
Closed: Mondays (Tuesday, when a holiday falls on a Monday), 9/5, 9/6, 12/29-1/10
Admission: 500 yen (Free if only visiting the gift shop or the coffee shop.)
Papermaking workshop fee: 500 yen

More info at http://www.keijusha.com/kamisuki.html (in Japanese).

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