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Japanese Encyclopedia: Washi (Japanese Traditional Paper)

Japanese Encyclopedia: Washi (Japanese Traditional Paper)

2016.08.08

Delicate and elegant, washi (Japanese paper) has been taking the world by storm. Let's take a closer look at this traditional handicraft.

Translated by Hilary Keyes

Written by Mako Hayashi

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Washi, or Japanese traditional paper, is a type of paper made using traditional techniques. This paper is made from hemp, mulberry tree, oriental paper bush or other types of plants found naturally in Japan.

Compared to Western papers that are made from wood pulp, the long and narrow plant fibers are left intake in Japanese paper, giving them a delicate yet robust quality.

Furthermore, washi paper is known for its slightly rough texture, similar to a fabric, while Western paper has a smoother, more slick feeling to it.

Long-lasting and multi-functional, washi has been used for Japanese painting, calligraphy, and other art forms, as well as in Japanese currency, shōji and other daily necessities.

Read also: Japanese Encyclopedia: Shōji

Across Japan: Local Washi

In one short, washi brings to mind Bicchū washi (from Okayama), Kurotani washi (from Kyōtō), and other regional variants made with local products from all across Japan.

Washi is a local, uniquely textured and robust paper.

When you find yourself traveling in Japan, you might consider looking for the different types of washi paper that exist in each area. Wouldn't that make a creative souvenir of your time in Japan?

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