The secrets of Japanese washi paper

22 Jun 2017 in So Design

It's used in Japanese art, furniture, clothes and wallpaper. But what exactly is washi – and how is it made?

Hohino Resorts KAI Kawaji (1)

Washi literally means “Japanese paper”. More specifically, it’s a type of high-grade paper hand-made using traditional methods – and highly prized for its exceptional quality.

If you visit Japan, you’re likely to come across washi without realizing it. It’s used in shoji screens, lampshades and book covers, kites and origami – and even in wallpaper. Such is its cultural importance that washi has earned a place in UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Hohino Resorts KAI Kawaji

Today, traditional washi-making is increasingly rare, but a number of small producers still exist. One such company is Fukuda Seishi in mountainous Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo. If you stay at Hoshino Resorts KAI Kawaji, you’ll have a chance to see the company’s traditional methods in a demonstration at your hotel. You’ll even be able to try your hand at creating your own washi!

So, how is washi made? The raw material usually comes from the kozo, a type of mulberry bush. First, the inner bark is removed, boiled and pounded to loosen the individual fibres. Next, the pounded fibre is added to a large quantity of water and a glue made from the roots of tororo-aoi (sunset hibiscus). To form a sheet of washi paper, you scoop up this solution on a sieve frame and carefully drain it, leaving it to dry overnight.

Washi paper

It may sound like a lot of effort, but washi paper is unlike any other. The way the fibres bind make it stronger, more flexible, more absorbent and lighter than standard paper. And that’s precisely why it can be used in so many ways – and what makes it’s so special to Japanese culture.

Hoshino Resorts KAI Kawaji

Would you like to find out more? Subscribe to our mailing list!

* indicates required




OTHER EXPERIENCES

HOSHINOYA Tokyo

3 reasons to stay at HOSHINOYA Tokyo, the capital’s first luxury Japanese-inn

29 Jul 2016 in So Design

3 reasons to stay at HOSHINOYA Tokyo: this is a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 17-storey hotel, however designed like a traditional Japanese ryokan ! Read more

knife-japan-cuisine

Why are Japanese knives among the best in the world?

27 Jan 2017 in Food Culture

It’s no surprise that Japanese knives are prized by the world’s top chefs: they’re razor-sharp, pinpoint-precise – and, in the right hands, they can do some incredible things! Read more

design-terrace

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

OTHER EXPERIENCES

tissu-furoshiki

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

geisha-ougi

Ougi, one of the classic images of Japan

30 Nov 2016 in So Design

Part fashion accessory, part ancient artform, discover the origins of this very special fan... Read more

knife-japan-cuisine

Why are Japanese knives among the best in the world?

27 Jan 2017 in Food Culture

It’s no surprise that Japanese knives are prized by the world’s top chefs: they’re razor-sharp, pinpoint-precise – and, in the right hands, they can do some incredible things! Read more

most popular articles