Karakami: the design and elegance of Japanese printed paper

23 May 2016 in So Design

Do you know the secret to manufacturing the famous Japanese handcrafted Karakami printed paper? A marriage of modern design and a great skill by means of an age-old handcrafting production technique...


The Japanese are extremely attentive and pay a lot of attention to the details and the accuracy of the skill. In terms of craft, they are masters in the field and have been repeating the same skills for generations, applying the knowledge passed on by their ancestors with the same dedication. Printed paper with the “Karakami” method is one of the most used technique in craft. An art which combines care and accuracy, and which illustrates the considerable knowledge and skill of the Japanese craftsmen.


karakami definition

The “Karakami” technique is still in use nowadays, and printed papers are an integral part of Japanese interiors. The traditional method remains handworked and consists of using a carved woodblock to print the design on a surface. This technique goes back to the Nara period, when the upper classes used to use it to write letters and poems. Then, during the Heian period, the aristocrats used it for decorating the papers covering internal sliding doors. It became more popular during the Edo period, and Karakami is used nowadays to decorate interiors and print sliding doors, lamps, and printed papers.

Hoshino Resorts Hoshinoya Kyoto karakami room

Hoshino Resorts Hoshinoya Kyoto room

All the rooms at HOSHINOYA Kyoto have been decorated according to this principle with papers printed by old carved woodblocks from 130 years ago. This art remains practised by a craftsman in Kyoto who accurately reproduces the traditional methods passed on by these ancestors. A mixture of pigment is used for the colour, and an application technique that only experience, care, and a great deal of knowledge can master. So why not visit this craftsman during your stay in Kyoto to discover their work exhibited in their gallery called the Karakami Gallery.” 


Design lanterns in Japan

Lanterns: the Japanese ancestors of electric lamps

30 Jun 2016 in So Design

Japanese lanterns are the forebears of electric lamps. Some places even still use them instead of electricity.... Read more


Contest: your chance to win a white birch sake jug

25 Apr 2018 in Contest

This month, we’re giving away a sake jug hand-crafted from Hokkaido white birch. Don’t delay, enter today! Read more


Kazari-daru: the decorative sake barrel

02 Feb 2018 in Food Culture

Enter this month’s contest for your chance to win a superbly-decorated barrel of sake! Read more



Furoshiki: the wrapping cloth that does it all

09 Jun 2017 in So Design

Need a bag to carry your groceries? A hamper for a picnic? Or wrapping paper for a gift? The furoshiki does it all! Enter our contest for your chance to win one. Read more


Aomori Indigo Terrace: new style, old methods

07 Jun 2017 in So Design

Discover how local artists have revived classical indigo-dyeing to create contemporary style for a new terrace at Hoshino Resort Aomoriya. Read more


Shodo, the art of Japanese calligraphy

04 Jan 2017 in So Design

Learn the art of Japanese calligraphy and become skilled in this ancient art. Read more

most popular articles