Remembering Tadayoshi Yamamoto

Tadayoshi Yamamoto in his studio during the 2019 Washi Tour

It is with a heavy heart that I write of Tadayoshi Yamamoto’s passing. Yamamoto-san was one of the only remaining craftsmen who specialized in the making of su (bamboo screens) and keta (papermaking frames) for Japanese papermaking. I personally have had the honor of visiting his studio a few times—most recently on the 2019 Washi Tour.  His kindness and generosity stand out in my memory.  On our visits, he explained his work in detail and showed the tour participants his techniques – always with a big smile on his face.

Yamamoto san was one of the only craftsmen who made su (bamboo screen) and keta (frame) all by hand.

We asked our representative Tsuyoshi Ageta in Kochi prefecture to say a few words in Yamamoto-san’s memory. Below are Ageta san’s words:

Once known as the ‘Kingdom of Washi’, Kochi Prefecture was the epicenter of Japanese papermaking as well as the suketa tool making that is essential to the craft. Tadayoshi Yamamoto, a central figure in tool making, passed away on August 18th, 2022 at the age of 94.

Yamamoto san naturally began helping his family business of tool making when he was young, and continued to hone his craft over the years. After much hard work and diligence, he eventually became the go-to person for papermaking tools, and papermakers from around the country would seek out Yamamoto san’s creations.

He was always energetic and optimistic and would happily accept visitors such as the Hiromi Paper Washi Tour participants even despite his busy production schedule. I recall how he would explain and demonstrate his tool making process with such joy. Yamamoto san was the president of the National Preservation of Handmade Japanese Paper Tool Making Techniques from 2008 to 2012 and contributed to the unity between toolmakers and papermakers all over Japan. 

Yamamoto san’s powerful influence was not limited to Japan. He traveled to and resided in the kingdom of Bhutan for some time and taught his tool making techniques to the people of Bhutan, so they would be able to make their own tools for Japanese-style papermaking (papermakers in Bhutan learned papermaking from Japanese papermakers). Tadayoshi Yamamoto was a central pillar in the realm of papermaking as well as around the world, and he will be missed terribly. 

Yamamoto san’s studio

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