Joey’s Washi Tour 2012 Recap Part 1

Hello everyone! I had the most amazing trip with Yuki a couple of weeks back, as you may have noticed from the wonderful updates packed with images and notable information she has been posting. It was definitely overwhelming to jump into the hustle and bustle of the Tokyo city life from day 1, but coming from Los Angeles, it was easier to adjust to. Racing against a threat of jet-lag, we roamed the city street life from morning to dusk!

 

The Harajuku crowd is something to not take lightly of! There was a large variety of people from around the world, different languages were being used right and left. We even got to witness a traditional wedding ceremony at the Meiji Shrine (actually there were a few of them that day). The amount of cuteness in every store which packed all corners of the streets had me gasping in awe every other minute. It also helped that we were in the motherland of Washi Tape, something that we’ve been very crazy for lately!

At the Takashimaya department store in Nihonbashi we visited the Echizen Washi x Fumio Tanai exhibition. I was very excited to meet Mr. Sugihara for the first time, and seeing all the different purposes of Washi from a cooling floor mat for the middle of summer, to hand bags and intricately designed works of art by Mr. Osada. I thought it was organized really well for the amount of items and washi they had!

Early (very early) of the next morning we left Tokyo with our suitcases and began our journey to Mino! It was hard to say good bye to Tokyo, but we were very eager to meet paper makers with our questions and return with answers.

Mr. Hasegawa, above, is showing us some of his finest Nasu Kozo fibers and mixing a bucket of tororoaoi. Whether it be its gooey substance or the importance of it in Nagashizuki (paper making technique), I just find it absolutely fascinating. Thanks to Mr. Hasegawa we were able to have an extensive tour of where the Mino paper is being made, the public chiritori places in his town, and even visited some shrines!

We also had some time to visit the Mino paper making museum, which was my favorite out of all the museums I had been to. With a bit of encouragement from Mr. Hasegawa, Yuki and I were able to try out paper making (at long last!). The method was a bit difficult having to sway side to side and carefully but forcefully scooping then releasing the water, but atleast the Suketa we had was not as huge as Mr. Hasegawa’s!

After stopping at the Sugihara household, we spent some time at Heizaburo Iwano’s mill. The size of these papers require 2 people to make the paper! We were hypnotized by the swift but steady rhythmic motion of their synchronized paper making.

At Mr. Oki’s (Mohachi) studio, I saw paper making with the Tamezuki method for the first time. His partner (aka wife) was in the middle of prepping the pulp. The first round of washing the pulp turns the water to a dark brown color. By time, the water should be clear, and that is when you know that the pulp is fully cleaned. It was very interesting to see how different each studio is set up, since the various handmade papers require specific details and handling.

Closer towards the end of our Echizen visit, we visited where the Echizen Shikibu Gampi is made at Umeda’s studio. Yuki and I were also given a chance at paper making again. This time the suketa was larger and heavier, and it was very difficult. It’s a good thing that they were able to reuse the pulp that we had scooped out!

Stay tuned for my next recap, thank you for reading!

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