It’s now off to Kochi for Yuki and I! A bit tired and wary from traveling long distances on the bullet train, but we were undoubtedly excited for this leg of our journey.
We arrived after dusk and tumbled our way from the station to our business hotel. The next morning I was surprised to see such a nice view outside of our window. Once again, I was very thankful for such great weather on this trip. Perhaps the Gods of paper making were blessing us!
The first mill we visited was Takaoka-san’s! We get a fair amount of our machine made rolls from here such as: Okawara Roll, Shikoku Natural and White Roll, Surface Gampi Natural and White Roll, and the Mulberry Thick and Thin Rolls.
They go through a large amount of pulp daily, and it is beaten with mechanical beaters.
Both a mechanical mixer and a human mixer are used. Unfortunately, we were not able to take pictures of the actual machine they use to make the roll paper. This was the first machine made paper mill that we saw on our washi tour, and it was definitely on a larger scale due to the needs of machine made rolls!
They focus on producing one type of paper each day. Look how amazingly delicate but strong the paper seems mounted on machinery!
Next was a visit to Mie-san, and her gorgeous dyed tengucho studio. Mie-san was in the middle of washing some cooked Thai Kozo. The water that she uses is all natural water running through a pipe connected to a river not visible from where we were. Upon questioning her about the water source, she stated that typically on the good seasons the water flows out at maximum strength. However, on that certain day the water was not at it’s maximum capability. It did seem a bit concerning, but it is still sufficient for Mie-san to wash her kozo pulp, and hopefully for many generations in the future.
We went to visit a paper museum and tried out Tamezuki style papermaking for the first time! Much easier then nagashizuki, since we didn’t have to sway the suketa side to side and back and forth. The museum, for a set price, let us make six thick post cards. We also dried it on a metal dryer! At the same time, Osamu Hamada and his mother, Mie-san, were drying their freshly made sheets. They make our 100% Color Kozo (kizukishi) papers.
We made a quick stop at Yamamoto Tadayoshi’s studio, and he was in the middle of making a Su (screen) for an order. Papermaking tool makers are now very rare, but still as vital in the papermaking world. Because of that Yamamoto-san is a very busy man and was swamped with orders that day! He makes screens and other tools for organizations and paper makers all around the world. I also found it fascinating that he’s spent some years abroad, but when I asked him to converse in English he replied firmly, “This is Japan!”.
We also had a brief visit to the Shikoku Wagami machine made Gampi mill. For more information please take a look at a previous post made by Yona on her washi tour here. Their chiritori machine had broken down recently, which is why we were not able to restock on our Natural Gampi machine made paper and rolls for a while. When we arrived, two of their workers were performing the chiritori process by hand on the gampi pulp. Gampi pulp is noted to be far more difficult for chiritori compared to Kozo pulp. The chiri (extraneous black specks), are hidden deep within the gampi fibers. We definitely agree with them after we tried it out for ourselves! Keep in mind that the tweezers used to extract the chiri, are dull so that it doesn’t cut the pulp.
Last, but surely not least, we visited Kensho Ishimoto (Refer to Yuki’s post for which papers come from this mill). They were in the middle of drying their sheets ! Yuki was quite a pro at it already on her first try. I do agree with her that it is more difficult than it seems.
While traveling I tried out some very interesting onigiri’s (Japanese rice ball) that are sold in their local convenience stores. Tarako, being my second favorite filling for an onigiri, is, as expected, fresher. Another one, which I absolutely was dying to try, was the Omelete rice onigiri (the yellow one on the top right image). It’s wrapped with egg, and the inside consists of a tomato fried rice mix. Aside from those Godly onigiri’s, I came across this little bowl of raw little fishes (I assume to be silverfish), at an Izakaya in Kochi. Honestly, not something I would order again, but it was worth a try!