NIHONMONODiscovering Japan [Nihon] through authentic craftsmanship [Honmono]

“Craftsmen making Echizen washi paper ”Iwano Heizaburo Seishijo Co., Ltd. “

"Craftsmen making Echizen washi paper
”Iwano Heizaburo Seishijo Co., Ltd. "

Drawing out the potential of ”washi”

Said to date back 1200 years, Echizen ”washi” is known for many different forms of ”washi” created by combining different materials and using different paper-making techniques. Echizen-shi, Fukui is home to Otaki Shrine, the only shrine worshipping “the deity of paper” in Japan. Back in history, when Echizen ”washi” was used as ”hokoshi” paper and was Japan’s first paper used in making bank bills, ”kamisuki” technique was practiced throughout the region.

Today, ”Craftsmen making Echizen washi paper ”Iwano Heizaburo Seishijo Co., Ltd.” is considered to be one of the largest workshops manufacturing ”Echizen washi” in Japan. It was in the Meiji period when the first Iwano Heizaburo started making paper. Enthusiastic about research, he was not satisfied with just plain-colored ”Echizen washi” and even revived old techniques such as those used to make ”uchigumo” paper. In this way, he created many different patterns of ”washi”.
The founder is also said to have reproduced ”washi” made from hemp, which had come from China, and as a result, greatly contributed to the development of modern Japanese-style painting. Master artists such as Yokoyama Taikan and Kosugi Hoan preferred to use the hemp paper and left numerous masterpieces.

Passing on tradition

”Iwano Heizaburo Seishijo Co., Ltd.” is also one of the largest in terms of the size of paper manufactured. They have a ”sukifune”, a wooden tub used for paper making, which is about 2 meters long and about 2.7 meters wide. It is used to make ”washi” for special Japanese-style paintings among others.

The current Iwano Heizaburo is the fourth generation. He leads the many craftsmen involved in making the various special ”washi” products.
When Nakata visited the workshop, a young craftsman and an experienced, certified traditional craftsman were working together to make a large sheet of ”washi”. This is truly a place where the culture of Echizen is handed down.

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Iwano Heizaburo Papermaking Workshop Co., Ltd.
27-4 Otaki-cho, Echizen-shi, Fukui