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The Basics of Japanese Washi Paper
3 months ago

The Japanese culture has many contributions in this modern era. The colorful culture of the Japanese still influences a lot of modern lives. You continue to see them anywhere you go and wherever you live. You must gain appreciation on what these things give you and where they come from originally. Learning more about the origins of the things around you will help you appreciate them better and look at them with more awe than before.

One of the more exciting things that the Japanese have contributed to modern society is their so-called traditional Japanese paper. This item also goes by the name of washi paper. In a literal sense, the word ‘washi’ means Japanese paper. It is a paper that is handmade with the help of traditional methods. Washi may come from wheat, hemp, rice, bamboo, mulberry bark, mitsumata branches, or gampi bark. These fibers are very strong. Using them to make washi paper is the reason why washi is stronger than Western paper. You can even use washi paper to make toys, clothes, and so much more. These papers are perfect for calligraphy and origami.

It takes a long time to make washi paper. Usually, manufacturers make them during the winter season when cold spring water is available. This factor is vital because this specific period helps prevent bacteria from degrading or damaging the fibers. With that, you only need a few chemicals to create these papers.

To remove the bark from Kozo branches, manufacturers should boil them first. After boiling, they dry them and cook them with tannin, fat, and lye to get rid of the starch. They rinse them once more to remove the lye. They bleach the remaining fibers in a stream and remove other impurities by hand. They laid them on a rock and beat them.

They get a vat of water and mix it with pulp and put them on a screen and shake them. For thinner washi, you may add Tororo root into the water. This thin paper is perfect for calligraphy. You don’t need to add this root if you need to use thick washi paper for arts and crafts, walls, and clothes.

You have the option to choose plain washi paper or one that comes with beautiful design prints. For high-quality washi paper, you can handprint different motifs and patterns of scenes, flowers, and lucky symbols to the paper with silver and gold details. For a long time, kimono designers printed paper in this manner for their paper samples because they are cheaper to produce than silk paper.  Read more about Washi here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washi.

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