NIHONMONODiscovering Japan [Nihon] through authentic craftsmanship [Honmono]

Kamikawasaki ”washi”, history of 1000 years ”Nihonmatsu Washi Traditional Crafts Gallery”

Kamikawasaki ”washi”, history of 1000 years
”Nihonmatsu Washi Traditional Crafts Gallery”

Traditional Kamikawasaki ”washi” from Nihonmatsu

Since the ReVALUE NIPPON PROJECT theme in 2011 was ”washi”, ”washi” is one of the materials that Nakata has special interest in. There is a area known for ”washi in Fukushima Prefecture – Kamikawasaki district of Nihonmatsu City.
The history of ”washi” in Kamikawasaki is long and dates back to the mid Heian period. In the early Heian period, the paper was called the ”paper of Michinoku”, and was popular among the nobles. It is also said that ”Mayumigami”, commonly used by writers such as Murasaki Shikibu or Seisho Nagon was also Kamikawasaki ”washi”. It’s exciting to think that the same paper that was used for novels which were enjoyed by people in those times, has been passed on to the present.

The sound of water resonating in the quiet

We visited Nihonmatsu Washi Traditional Crafts Gallery which produces and sells Kamikawasaki ”washi”. Not only do they sell products and sundries made with ”washi”, they also make ”washi” here.
All the materials used to make ”washi” in the Traditional Crafts Gallery comes from local mulberry trees. 2 to 3 meter mulberry trees are harvested in December. Then the bark is peeled, boiled and pounded to make ”washi”. The paper that is made here is genuinely Kamikawasaki ”washi”.
We could hear the rocking sound of the papermaking vats or ”sukifune” as we were listening to the explanation. We observed their work. In the ”sukifune”, water and fine fibrous ”kozo” was mixed with a tool called ”maguwa”. After this, ”neri” (”tororo aoi”) is added, mixed well, then scooped up with the papermaking mat or ”suki take”.

Handmade ”washi” diplomas

As the name Nihonmatsu Washi Traditional Craft Gallery suggests, along with production, they are also focused on passing on the tradition. Nakata asked what kind of activities they were involved in.
”The most important thing is for people to develop an interest in ”washi”. The best way to make this happen is for them to come in contact with it. So we offer free papermaking sessions to all of the city’s middle school students.” our guide, Yoshishimizu told us.

Another activity that Nihonmatsu City is involved in is ”diplomas”. Yoshishimizu said she graduated from a local middle school, and the diployma she received was made with Kamikawasaki ”washi”.
She laughed as she told us ”I don’t remember where I put my elementary school diploma but I still have and cherish my Kamikawasaki ”washi” diploma.

ACCESS

Nihonmatsu Washi Traditional Crafts Gallery
33-1 Kamidaira, Shimokawasaki, Nihonmatsu, Fukushima