In March of 2010, Hiromi and I led a Washi Tour in Japan, which will be documented here in separate blog posts. I took many pictures and will try to share as much as I can, so as a warning the posts may be image heavy!
For this tour, the group consisted mostly of conservators and their family members from Rome, Italy. So, this was going to be a Washi Tour focusing on conservation papers. We met the group in our hotel restuarant over dinner the first night in Kyoto. Introductions, schedule overview, Q&A were done, as well as instructions for the early morning departure the next day.
We warned the group beforehand that we would be constantly loading and unloading the bus/hotel/etc so the best way was to pack light. However, (especially since many washi tour participants go on travelling around Japan beyond the tour), it is not so easy touring Japan with just one small suitcase. Shopping and souvenirs are a must afterall. So, we experienced our first hustle: the loading of the bus, which had to temporarily park in the tight street in front of the hotel. Once in the tour bus, the group was able to spread around, relax, and enjoy the views en route to Kochi Prefecture on Shikoku Island.
Rest area/ Tourist point we stopped at along the way:
Back on the bus:
(Map below is a rough representation of the path taken)
Being further south in Japan, the warmer temperatures meant early cherry blossoms blooming:
Shikoku Island produces more handmade and machine made Japanese paper (washi) than any other area in Japan. Raw materials (Kozo, Gampi, and Mitsumata) are cultivated here and used in washi all over Japan. Kochi itself has had a history of making paper for over 1000 years. Our hotel in Kochi was at the “Tosa Washi Village Kuraudo“, which over looks the Niyodo River:
The Niyodo River flows through Ehime and Kochi Prefectures in Shikoku Island and is 124 km long. While not as famous throughout the country as Shimanto River in Kochi, it ranked #4 in 1999 in water quality for the whole of Japan. This abundant and wide river is a popular spot for water activities such as canoeing and fishing, camping, and the annual Niyodo River Kami no Koinobori event. This event takes place every May in Ino Machi (Town), where participants color special paper that then “swim” down the river. Ino Machi is also known as the starting point of Tosa Washi papermaking in Kochi.
*HPI note: our Inkjet Niyodo series is made in Kochi and is named after the river by Hiromi.
*Tosa refers to Tosa Province, now called Kochi Prefecture.
Next up: Part 2 Kochi Washi Museum