Translated by Hilary Keyes
Written by Ayame Nagano
Full of mountains and the sea, Kochi is a prefecture overflowing with attractions. At Inochō Paper Museum, you can learn to make Tosa washi, a kind of traditional paper specific to this region.
Kochi prefecture is found in the Shikoku region of Japan, and as it faces the Pacific Ocean, if you head slightly south, you can catch a glimpse of the beautiful waters easily here. Full of mountains and the sea, fresh seafood and delicious Japanese sake, Kochi is a prefecture overflowing with attractions and charms that is still little known overseas. Not only that, but Kochi is a great place to visit as it has plenty of fun and different activities to take part in. Today we would like to introduce one of the amazing experiences offered in Kochi.
Make Washi at the Inochō Paper Museum
If you take the train from JR Kochi station for about 25 minutes (or the street car), you will reach Inochō. Walking 10 minutes from Inoekimae Station will bring you to the Inochō Paper Museum. At the Inochō Paper Museum, you can take part in a washi (Japanese paper) making class. The type of washi Kochi prefecture is known for is called Tosa washi, Tosa being the former name of the prefecture used in ancient Japan. In 1976, Tosa washi was designated as a traditional handicraft by the government of Japan. For more information on washi: Japanese Encyclopedia: Washi (Japanese Traditional Paper)
Let's Make Washi!
To start off the lesson, a simple explanation of the whole washi paper-making process is given. Within the paper-making experience there are two standard processes, known as tamesuki and nagashisuki, however the most common to take part in is the tamesuki process.
Mixing Raw Paper Materials by Hand
In order to prevent the raw paper materials from being one-sided or too thin, you must firmly mix them using your hands.
Fill the Bamboo Mat with the Raw Materials and Water
This is the suketa or bamboo mat frame. You use this tool to draw water into the raw paper materials. Once the raw paper materials have reached a uniform thickness, the mat is carefully rocked in all directions in order to set the fibers in place. After this step, the paper is moved from the suketa to the shitodai or drying rack. The helpful staff really want you to get the most of out this experience, so if you have any questions or points you're not sure about, feel free to ask them for help. Use the time it takes for your paper to dry to check out the rest of the Inochō Paper Museum.
See the Museum!
The Inochō Paper Museum is divided into 4 large sections.
Room 1: The History of Washi
In the first room you can see a chronological history of Tosa washi paper, kamiko or clothing made from washi,and various other items that have been made using this Kochi specialty.
Room 2: Raw Materials and Tools
In the second room are explanations of the tools used to make washi paper, as well as of the raw materials that are processed into it, which will help you to better understand the process that you took part in.
Room 3: Handmade Paper Classroom
Here you can watch as skilled workers manufacture Tosa washi, and on the first Sunday of the month, you can take part in the process yourself.
Room 4: Modern Washi
The fourth room is a souvenir shop selling goods made from handmade washi and other Japanese paper products. There are plenty of cute things to buy here that would make great gifts for family and friends.
Our Handmade Washi is Ready!
In the time it takes to look around the museum, your paper should be dry (about 30-40 minutes). Stamps and other items placed in the museum are free to use so you can make original postcards. If you come to you Kochi should definitely give paper-making a try!
Inochō Paper Museum
Address: Kochi, Agawagun,Inochō, Saiwaichō 110-1
Closed: Every Monday (if a national holiday, the next day)
Parking: Available (room for 3 large vehicles, 50 regular sized)
Credit Cards: Cash only Other
Languages: Only with advanced reservations
Pamphlets in Other Languages: English, Chinese, Korean Nearest
Station: JR Inoekimae Station (伊野駅), Ino tram stop (伊野) Tosa-den line
Access: 10 minute walk from Inoekimae Station, 10 minute walk from last stop of Tosa-den tram line
Entrance Fee: adults 500 yen, children (elementary to high school) 100 yen; discounts are available for those with disabilities (with certification) and the elderly
Washi Experience: 400 yen (for 2 sheets of large paper or 8 postcards); advance reservations required for groups over 10
Phone Number: 088-893-0886
Website: Inochō Paper Museum