Echizen Washi Update

Written by Yoshinao Sugihara / Translated by Yuki Katayama

In Japanese, kami can mean either god or paper. Every spring, the annual Kami Festival (honoring the paper goddess Kawakami Gozen) takes place here in Echizen’s Okamoto Otaki Shrine. Usually the paper goddess and the two local gods that live on top of the mountain will travel down to the Okamoto Otaki Shrine to stay for three days (May 3rd-5th) during the festival. Every year, this festival brings together the entire Echizen Washi village, and many visitors from all over the world. However, due to the effects of the global pandemic, this year’s festivities were limited to the minimum number of participants donning face masks. 

(The impressive wooden architecture of the Okamoto Otaki Shrine. Photo Credit: Echizen Washi Facebook)
(The deities are transported in the wooden mikoshi. Photo Credit: Echizen Washi Facebook)

Although the state of emergency order has been lifted in Fukui Prefecture, most people voluntarily continue the stay-at-home protocols, and not going out unless it is necessary. The usually bustling Echizen Washi village has fallen silent in the past month, with zero outside visitors. The paper museum and shop reopened this week, with hopes to gradually attract visitors by having workshops and exhibitions. 

Echizen Washi Village Main Square / Photo Credit: Yoshinao Sugihara

Many of the papermakers in the village have been hard hit by the current situation, experiencing a drastic decrease in orders, along with multiple promotional events/projects being canceled in the coming months. Yet, no matter the situation the paper making artisans still head to their studios everyday, diligently making their papers with a positive attitude and smiles on their faces.

Echizen Papermaker Hiroya Yamashita / Photo Credit: Yoshinao Sugihara

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