The WASHI Story
The traditional craft of hand-making paper, or Washi, is practiced for over 1000 thousand years in Japan. The paper is typically made of fibres of “Kozo”, “Mitsumata” and “Gampi” plants and used for letter writing and books, but also to make paper screens, room dividers and sliding doors.
The craftsmanship is handed over from generation to generation – families and their employee’s work under masters who have inherited the techniques from their parents. The communities play important roles in keeping this craftsmanship viable, ranging from the cultivation of the “Kozo” “Mitsumata and “Gampi” plants up to training the techniques of making the Washi paper.
The plants are grown on farms so the bushes cut for the Washi paper productions are continuously replaced.
The handmade Washi paper has a unique characteristics that cannot reproduced by machines. Each Washi master has its own way of creating that unique type of Washi paper which is passed on from generation to generation. Washi is only produced in sheets with long fibers entangled and bonded together.
The light which shines through the gaps – which one can only see by looking through the microscope – gives the Washi paper its unique soft glow. As air comes and goes through those gaps, you can feel the outside season when the washi paper is used as walls or sliding doors in Japanese houses.
The Washi paper is tough and has a very, very long life. There are still papers in existence which has been hand crafted a thousand years ago. Its long entangled fibers make the paper very durable even though it looks so light. The Washi paper can be repeatedly folded without paper cracking due to its long fiber structure.
The way the Washi paper is produced gives it its century’s long lasting quality. Produced with almost zero chemicals it is acid and Lignin free.
The Washi paper is nominated as United Nations “Intangible Heritage”. Intangible cultural heritage includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, arts, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.
“The Washi paper has an emotional dimension due its century of craftsmanship. Handmade Washi paper has wonderful warmth that fills our hearts with a peaceful feeling. We are proud that – with our ILFORD GALERIE Washi paper range – ILFORD is part of that over thousand years old legacy.”
Keiichi Shindo – President ILFORD