After visiting Yamamoto-san, we were off to see Shikoku Wagami – a machine made paper production mill that began in the 1960s. Owned by Mr. Kariya, they are currently mainly making Gampi papers. Hiromi Paper’s Gampi Rolls are currently all from this mill. Compared to Kozo (Mulberry) and Mitsumata fibers, Gampi fibers are thin and very difficult to clean during chiritori. Because the plants cannot be cultivated like Kozo, workers have to go deep into the mountainsides to gather Gampi bark. Otherwise, Gampi is also imported from the Phlippines. Philippine Gampi may produce washi that is not as smooth, but it can be obtained much easier than Japanese Gampi.
above: 1 barrel of cooked Gampi fibers waiting for chiritori
above: beaten Gampi pulp laid outside one of the several buildings of the mill. Fibers are soaked overnight and then cooked for 3-5 hours.
above: The mill may appear expansive at first, but upon closer look we found most of the buildings were empty storages. They were once used for making handmade washi (perhaps in Mr. Kariya’s fathers time), but have been phased out for the machine made papers. One factor was the apparent lack of workers.
above: In their storage on one side was Japanese Gampi collected from years and years ago. They have been using this storage so far and are unsure of any more future supply when it is gone. On the other side of the storage were stacks of Philippine Gampi.
above: The daunting task of chiritori – picking any dark specks from the Gampi fibers so that they do not appear when the paper is made. 2 Barrels of this cooked fiber is approx. 20kg, which can make 1000m of paper. It also will take 2 months of chiritori.
above: We were shown a variety of machinery used in the process of machine made washi, including hollandar beaters for the pulp, and a range of metal screens that decrease in size of holes – all for more chiritori before the fibers are put in the paper producing machines.
above: Last, Mr. Kariya brought us to an archive room with treasured old Gampi paper. The one pictured above brought back memories for Hiromi – looking like the school forms used by students.
Coming up next: Nai Gai – Machine Made Tengucho Paper