Tengucho and the Hamada Family

The summer edition of World of Washi is now up online here.

by Tsuyoshi Ageta
Kochi Washi Coop

Tengucho is described as the wings of the May Fly and some of the world’s thinnest paper. The sharp, intense papermaking style for the Tengucho creates a presentation of dancing water. With washi’s greatest features, the raw materials of bast fibers is used with neri in the papermaking process. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Tengucho, with such extreme features for paper, is the representative for washi. In the 1880’s, with Kochi prefecture’s quality Kozo, there was a huge development for the Tengucho. And with the typing stencil paper for typewriters recognized in Europe and America, the result was Kochi prefecture overwhelmingly becoming Japan’s number one washi producer. However, even with 200 households making Tengucho in the golden age, by 1970’s, Hamada Sajio became Japan’s sole maker.

Sajio Hamada
Sajio Hamada

For the Hamada family, Sajio was acknowledged as a living national treasure in recognition of his Tengucho making skill. For many years, his wife, Setsuko, supported him by taking daily labor, peddling, and such in times when the paper was not selling. Now, she is occupied in drying the paper. Also in the Hamada family, the married Mie performs dyeing treatments in the efforts to bring new developments of the Tengucho. Last year, she attended Hiromi Paper’s 20th anniversary party, so some of you may have been acquainted with this charming lady. Three years ago, Mie’s two sons, Hironao and Osamu came to tour America in assistance to Hiromi Paper(and through the Japan Foundation Los Angeles) in order to demonstrate washi papermaking. Such an experience gave the two sons courage, self-confidence, a global spirit, and an immeasurable sense of purpose. Now, as the successor of his grandfather Sajio, Hironao is Japan’s sole Tengucho maker. The younger son, Osamu, is challenged with cultural mending, woodblock printing, and various other fine art paper. We believe that these two will carry on not only Tosa washi, but the washi industry in Japan.

Tengucho by the Hamada family available at HPI:

HM-1 Tengucho 21”x 31” 11g/m2

KH-83 Tengucho Black 21”x 31” 11g/m2

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