Kochi International Hanga Triennale

by Tsuyoshi Ageta
Translation by Yuki

Since the first exhibition was held in 1990, the Kochi International Hanga Triennale has been in session every 3 years and if everything goes smoothly, the 8th exhibit will be in March 2011. However, there have been doubts because of the lack of funds. Many inquiries were made about the exhibition, and although the date will be later than scheduled, the 8th exhibition will officially be held in October 2011.

This international exhibition solicits hanga work from professionals, which has gained recognition throughout the years. Now, it is known as one of the most distinguished international exhibitions in the world.

The first prize winner receives 1 million yen, the second prize winner receives 500,000 yen. For winners of work made especially from Tosa washi, the Tosa Washi Prize is given, as well as other awards.

In an island nation such as Japan, and in an even smaller island as Kochi prefecture, how is it that an international exhibition can take place? The answer is because Kochi prefecture has long been the center of washi production, and this event strives for the internationalization of Tosa washi.

Many are encouraged to display their work in this exhibition. On top of that, the number of past participants in this event is as follows:

Year                         1st        2nd      3rd      4th      5th      6th      7th

Japanese                   492       451        390        392      473       614       533

International           664     1001        954      1035     900       901       849

Total # of                1156     1452      1344      1427     1373      1515      1382

**For an Exhibition Entry Form in English and information on our Tosa Washi papers, please contact us.


• For Labor Day we will be closed on Monday, September 6.

World of Washi Newsletters will be continued and mailed out this month, HPI members – please update your mailing addresses with us.

• Look out for a workshop this fall on decorating our shikishi boards (see image above) with artist Jay Lizo

Tengucho and the Hamada Family

The summer edition of World of Washi is now up online here.

by Tsuyoshi Ageta
Kochi Washi Coop

Tengucho is described as the wings of the May Fly and some of the world’s thinnest paper. The sharp, intense papermaking style for the Tengucho creates a presentation of dancing water. With washi’s greatest features, the raw materials of bast fibers is used with neri in the papermaking process. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Tengucho, with such extreme features for paper, is the representative for washi. In the 1880’s, with Kochi prefecture’s quality Kozo, there was a huge development for the Tengucho. And with the typing stencil paper for typewriters recognized in Europe and America, the result was Kochi prefecture overwhelmingly becoming Japan’s number one washi producer. However, even with 200 households making Tengucho in the golden age, by 1970’s, Hamada Sajio became Japan’s sole maker.

Sajio Hamada
Sajio Hamada

For the Hamada family, Sajio was acknowledged as a living national treasure in recognition of his Tengucho making skill. For many years, his wife, Setsuko, supported him by taking daily labor, peddling, and such in times when the paper was not selling. Now, she is occupied in drying the paper. Also in the Hamada family, the married Mie performs dyeing treatments in the efforts to bring new developments of the Tengucho. Last year, she attended Hiromi Paper’s 20th anniversary party, so some of you may have been acquainted with this charming lady. Three years ago, Mie’s two sons, Hironao and Osamu came to tour America in assistance to Hiromi Paper(and through the Japan Foundation Los Angeles) in order to demonstrate washi papermaking. Such an experience gave the two sons courage, self-confidence, a global spirit, and an immeasurable sense of purpose. Now, as the successor of his grandfather Sajio, Hironao is Japan’s sole Tengucho maker. The younger son, Osamu, is challenged with cultural mending, woodblock printing, and various other fine art paper. We believe that these two will carry on not only Tosa washi, but the washi industry in Japan.

Tengucho by the Hamada family available at HPI:

HM-1 Tengucho 21”x 31” 11g/m2

KH-83 Tengucho Black 21”x 31” 11g/m2

We’re Back!

Pollock Not only are we back from the weekend, but Hiromi and Felicia also returned from SGC in Chicago March 26-28! Pollock is also happy to be back to his routine here. And now for some HPI updates:

The spring issue of World of Washi is now up on our homepage here. We are starting to receive some responses regarding updating us with your email addresses, so thank you for working with us on the future of the newsletter!

Now In Stock
We just received shipment of Hanji from Korea so our stock is now updated for JJ-001, JJ-006, and JJ-007!

Regarding JJ-006 Korean Kozo Amber, we were sent samples to show the color change that occurs when exposed to the sun, basically the overall color will darken to a yellow-brown as shown here with the two different shades:


Save Bergamot Station!
As some of you have been emailed, we at HPI were recently notified of the possibility of Bergamot Station being converted into a maintenance facility for the planned Exposition Rail Line. While we are in support of the light rail that will come to Santa Monica from Culver City, we are certainly in opposition of razing Bergamot Station for the maintenance facility. Bergamot Station is home to the Santa Monica Musuem of Art and 35+ galleries and businesses including Hiromi Paper, Inc. To help us prevent this, please sign the petition below:


Lasting Beauty and Uniqueness of Hanji

by Bohyung Kim

Hanji refers to Korean traditional handmade paper. ‘Han’ means Korea and ‘Ji’, paper. This term was coined in the early 20th century after Yang(western) Ji(paper) was introduced in Korea to distinguish traditional handmade papers from machine made western papers. In the course of 1,300 years of papermaking history, Korean papermakers refined Hanji with an original vision and handmade paper was an indispensable material of daily life, until lifestyle became widely westernized in Korea. Hanji was used not only for calligraphy, painting, and books, but also for doors, walls, windows, furniture, umbrellas, lanterns, boxes, baskets, fans, shoes, and clothes. Koreans used paper even in flooring, as part of Ondol, heated floor.

Hanji is beautiful to look at and touch, but its true value lies in what is not readily recognizable on the surface. Main material for Hanji is simple: Dak (paper mulberry), Hwang Chok Kyu (natural formation aid), and clean water. There are no fillers or additives. Compared to paper mulberry found in warmer regions of Asia, Korean Dak is known for its long, flexible, and strong fiber. Hanji is naturally PH neutral and has incomparable longevity. Excellent example of Hanji’s longevity is Mugujeonggwang Daedaranigyeong (Pure Light Dharani Sutra, circa 751 C.E., National Treasure 126), which was discovered inside a pagoda of Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju, Korea in 1966. Believed to be the oldest woodblock print in the world, this scroll, printed on Dak, was intact except for small areas of moth damage on the backside at the time of discovery.

Korea’s paper formation technique is distinct. Often referred to as Webal, this unique technique allows the fibers to accumulate in crisscross formation without a dominant grain direction. Each Yin Yang Ji is composed of two sub-layers, yin and yang, dried as one, which attributes to its name. Yin Yang Ji is strong, dimensionally stable and does not tear easily in either direction. It maintains even expansion and contraction rates in both directions and does not change final dimensions after drying, which could be particularly useful for certain conservation treatments and printmaking. Even the lightest Yin Yang Ji is much stronger than other papers with same thickness. Another characteristic that distinguishes Yin Yang Ji is the chain lines. Chain lines in Korean Bal (screen) do not run the entire length of the screen, but end in the middle and shift alignment for the other half. This prevents chain lines from overlapping and weakening that area of the paper. Fiber formation in multiple direction, yin and yang layers in one sheet, and alternating chain lines are all special attributes of Yin Yang Ji.

Webal formation

Webal formation

Some Hanji are treated with an extra finishing process called Dochim, during which the sheets are pounded repeatedly to make a compact and smooth surface. Dochim results in added strength and subtle sheen. It is an extra step for the highest quality Hanji which requires an amazing amount of care, physical effort, and most importantly, intuition.

Before (top) and after (bottom) Dochim process
Before (top) and after (bottom) Dochim process

Hanji Paper available at HPI

***Hiromi Paper was established over 20 years ago to keep the traditional Japanese handmade paper technique alive and accessible around the world. In continuing to do so, we have decided to also introduce traditional Korean handmade paper, so look for more Hanji additions in the future!

Spring’s Washi

by Satoshi Hasegawa
Hasegawa Washi Kobo

Ume no Hana
Ume no Hana

As March draws closer in Mino, the sunlight and warmth can be felt. Even as we are drying paper, a lighter feeling to the body of the paper is felt.  In the garden, lovely plum flowers (Ume no Hana) come in to bloom and there is the sense that spring is coming in the order of the course of one’s work.  However, there are some troubles that come with this time.  It is the time that the East Asian yellow dust from China and the Japanese cedar pollen comes.  To start with the yellow dust season, the dust from the distant Chinese continent gets taken on an air current and the small Gobi Desert sand flies in. It is like a dim haze as far as the eye can see, giving a feeling of smothering. Just when it appears the yellow dust has paused, the pollen from Japanese cedar comes next.  With mountains and forests surrounding the work area, seeing the dispersal of pollen feels as though you are shivering.

Japanese Cypress
Japanese Cypress Woods

As the springtime wind blows through the Japanese cedar woods, a band of amber is upsurges and it appears as if smoke has come from the whole mountain area. Since coming to Mino, I have been plagued by allergies to pollen, but will have to endure the time from February to May no matter what.

March to May marks the last stage of the season for making washi, but because the weather stabilizes, we can continue working relatively well. Making washi in the workroom mostly goes on uninterrupted, but endless sneezing and runny noses are to be had when drying the paper in the sunlight and sorting through the sun-dried paper. Sun drying paper is limited to outside the workroom, and during that time cedar and cypress pollen are certain to slip in. I often hear from various Japanese consumers who use the paper to repair their homes that they are always sneezing. Perhaps overseas users too have certainly felt this. If you sneeze when handling washi, do remember this article. It is spring’s washi.

Tools for Handmade Washi

by Tsuyoshi Ageta
Kochi Washi Coop

Handmade Japanese paper (washi) consists of the paper materials, tools, and papermaking techniques. This time, I will talk about the tools.  To make washi is a very demanding task, moreover making the tools used for Washi requires extraordinarily delicate skills. The principal tool in making washi is the su and the keta. Primarily made of bamboo, the su is used to thinly spread the pulp material on when making the paper.

Bamboo Splinta

The inner layer of the bamboo is chipped off and then the skin is split to form bamboo splints, which are used to form into sheets. The nodes of the bamboo cannot be used for the bamboo splints, so only the length between the nodes is used. Bamboo splints that differ in thickness cannot be used in the same su, only the splints that are equal thickness are used. The length of a bamboo splint is generally up to 16-18 inches long and they are carefully braided together one at a time. The thickness of the bamboo splints differs depending on the paper being made. Heavier paper requires thicker splints, and lighter paper requires thinner splints. Even when making only one su, 3000 splints are generally needed, so it can take from one week to 10 days to complete.

Su + Keta = Suketa

Next is the keta, which is the wooden frame the su is inserted into. Making the keta requires even greater technique than making the su. The material for the keta comes from Hinoki Cypress that is no less than 400 years old. The keta has to be light because it will be filled with water and the soaked paper materials. It also has to be strong enough to withstand intense swinging actions during the paper making process as well as stay in tact despite all the water that seeps in. For these reasons, the Hinoki Cypress that is used has to be dehydrated for several years. This adds the degree in difficulty for the washi tool making technique and testing the materials is very important.

Braiding the bamboo splints into a Su
Braiding splints into a Su

Other than the su and keta, there are the metal fixtures for the keta, the silk threads for braiding the su, and the brush used to dry the washi. All of these require advanced techniques and careful picking of the ingredients necessary to make them. Right now, there are approximately 30 people in Japan who are occupied with making the tools for washi, with the core of it advancing to 80 years in age. For the future of washi, Kochi prefecture holds an annual “Nationwide Preservation of Handmade Japanese Paper Tool Making Techniques” to train succeeding generations.

Washi Tools Available at HPI

Coming Soon to HPI


by Brian Shure. DVD included.


Magical Secrets

Brian Shure has expanded and revised his popular Chine Collé: a Printer’s Handbook (Crown Point Press, 2000) to create the fourth book in the Magical Secrets series. Magical Secrets about Chine Collé gives step-by-step instructions for printing and pasting to a support sheet, and adapts chine collé techniques for working with collage and mounting paper, fabric, and other materials with or without a press. Additional chapters discuss sizing paper or fabric, gold leafing, and scroll mounting. Illustrated with color step-by-step photographs, and the included DVD demonstrates the processes.

World of Washi

As announced on the hiromipaper frontpage:

The upcoming World of Washi Spring Newsletter will be our last printed edition. Newsletters after that will be available on hiromipaper.com only, and we will notify updates through email. Therefore, please contact us with your e-mail addresses if we do not already have them.

You can send us your name and e-mail address to washi @ hiromipaper .com
call us at 1-866 HP WASHI(1-866-479-2744) or 310-998-0098,
or use the sign up sheet in our store. Thank you!

We have just finished proofing the spring issue coming up and that should be mailed out by the end of the month. As stated, it will be the last printed newsletter indefinitely.  Past articles be found on the website, but we are also planning to post the articles and updates from future World of Washi issues here, on our blog! Starting next week, I will post parts of the spring issue daily, even before it is mailed out.

Otherwise, I am off to Boston for some personal time until Tuesday, see you next week!

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