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...

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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.

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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.” 

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