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JAPANESE TRADITIONAL CRAFTS

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Etchu Washi, Etchu paper

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The history of paper making in Etchu area, current Toyama prefecture, is long. Washi is mentioned as the tribute from this area in Engishiki, book about laws and customs in Heian period (794-1185), and the name is seen in some ancient documents in Nara period (710-784). Now, Etchu Washi, Etchu paper artisans produce various kinds of paper with traditional methods.

Etchu Wasih, Etchu paper production is divided into three region, Yatsuo, Gokayama, and Birudan. Each area has its own profession and history.

Yatsuo Washi’s most thriving season was during Genroku period (1688-1704) when medicines produced in Toyama domain were sold well and plenty of wrapping paper for them were demanded. Later, the artisans in this area established their own dyeing technique. The technique has been succeeded and now Yatsuno area produces the largest amount of dyed washi in Japan.

The feature of Gokayama Washi is mass production. Gokayama is famous for the traditional style of Japanese architecture with a thatched roof supported on steep-angled principal rafters, and under this special roof, people gathered and produced paper for their living. In this area, paper for religious use and shoji have been mainly produced.

Birudan Washi is made from kozo tree and the warm texture has been loved. The originality comes from the special method of paper making, which expose kozo to the snow before boiling. For dyeing, natural plants, dyestuff, and pigments are used. Currently, only one artisan keeps producing this special paper.

Etchu Washi, Etchu paper artisans are known to be rather younger than other areas and traditional crafts. They produce traditional kozo paper and dyed paper while creating novel craft paper and processed goods.

Etchu Washi, Etchu paper was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1988.


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