50 Years of the All-Japan Handmade Washi Association
by Satoshi Hasegawa/Translated by Yuki Katayama
The All Japan Handmade Washi Association is an organization constructed of Japanese papermakers from around the country. Established in 1963, this group has acted as a prime spot for information exchange for 50 years. Though our activities and members have decreased since establishment, the association is still striving to preserve handmade washi.
Back in March, we all gathered to look back on the past 50 years. We were surprised to realize that many of the past records and documents had not been organized or even stored, so there was almost no records of the first 25 years of association activity. There was one individual we came across while organizing data that caught my attention. From the documents I could tell that he was a very devout ‘washi-lover’, who put much effort into succeeding the washi traditions to further generations.
He also greatly contributed to Hon Mino paper being chosen as an Important Intangible Cultural Asset, stating that “We must make (Hon Mino) an Intangible Cultural Asset, before we lose the paper forever”.
I feel that these countless efforts from past individuals is one of the main reasons handmade washi has survived for all these years.
Handmade washi has been proposed to UNESCO for their Intangible Cultural Heritage candidate as “Traditional Japanese washi”, but there are many existing problems in washi production and well as succeeding the traditions.
I wonder what the dedicated, washi-loving individual would say about the current situation of handmade washi. Though I can never meet him, I can’t help but want to exchange thoughts and ideas with him.
From Hiromi Paper:
Like Hasegawa-san, we at Hiromi Paper are also concerned about the decrease in papermakers that are able to make high-quality washi. We hope that we can be of help to those Japanese papermakers and preserve their traditions.