TABLE OF CONTENTS
< Introduction-Following the Paper Trail
< Pre-paper History
< The Beginning of True Paper
< Papermaking in Japan
< Awa Washi and the Fujimori Family
< Washi-Tamezuki and Nagashizuki
< From Plant to Paper (the process of making washi from kozo)
< Harvesting the Bast Fiber
< The History of Awa Washi
< Preparation of the Fibers
< The Basic Tools and Equipment
< The Basic Papermaking Process
< Western Paper and Washi
The history of paper goes back over two thousand years and its history in Japan can be traced back over 1400 years. Paper has played a major role in the life style and culture of Japan. Unfortunately its role has been greatly diminished by the many changes that have occurred in Japan. This is also reflected in the decrease in the number of washi manufacturers. Many washi manufacturers are trying to find new ways to introduce and promote washi.
This article is one small effort to introduce washi and especially the washi particular to Yamakawa-cho of Tokushima, Japan (Awa washi) to those who want to learn more about this marvelous material and hopefully will be inspired to try to introduce washi into their daily lives.
Introduction-Following the Paper Trail
In its 2,000 years of existence, paper has changed the course of history and language and even today remains the primary medium of enduring communication. Paper is used daily yet very few of those who use it realize its versatile nature. It can be stiff or flexible, thick or thin, opaque or translucent, absorbent or water resistant, enduring or transient. Paper is one of the most simple and most beautiful materials known to man yet it is rarely fully appreciated. Millions use paper daily, but only a few are familiar with the elegant process of papermaking. This process has undergone many changes, both technical and artistic in the last century of its 2,000 year history. Some of the technical advances such as chemical bleaches, acidic sizing and wood pulp have made mass production possible but these materials also affect the longevity of the papers produced. This degradation reawakened an interest in making paper by hand using both Eastern and Western traditional techniques. The renewed interest in handmade paper also underwent a change from a technical to an artistic approach and finally evolved into an art medium and art form.
Prior to the invention of paper, the ancients used readily available materials to record ideas and information. These materials included stone, clay, metal, plant parts as well as animal bone and skin. But many of these materials were rigid or awkward to prepare or handle. They were gradually replaced by materials that were more flexible, cheaper and easier to obtain and prepare. In Asia, strips of bamboo were used as a writing surface. These strips were strung together to form book-like bundles. The court official, Ts'ai Lun (the person credited with the invention of paper) once had the assignment to reorganize the Imperial library which consisted of stacks of this type of book. This monumental task probably inspired him to find a lighter weight material to replace these cumbersome bundles. The original material known as 'rice paper' is ironically, neither paper nor made from rice. It is cut spirally from the pith of the Tetrapanax papyriferum tree, which grows in Taiwan and southern parts of China. This material was used for Chinese calligraphy and water color paintings. Many use the term 'Japanese rice paper' when referring to WASHI, but this is also a misnomer since rice plays no part in the production of washi, except perhaps to feed the papermaker. The first writing material that exhibited many of the characteristics of paper was papyrus. The Greek word, 'papyros', is the basis for the English word 'paper'. The Egyptians laminated strips of the stem of the papyrus (Cyperus papyrus), an aquatic plant, to form the sheets. During the third to fifth century B.C., the papyrus export trade flourished. But by the end of the 12th century, the industry declined due to the increased pollution of the Nile River and the increased use of animal skin products such as parchment and vellum . The bark of trees have been used in almost every period of history and in every region of the world. The natives of Mexico, Central and South America made a paper-like substance called 'huun', 'amate' or 'amatl'. This was made by beating strips of the inner bark of moraceous (fig) trees into felted sheets. The Chinese and Pacific Islanders made a similiar material, known as bark cloth or tapa, by beating the inner bark of mulberry trees into felted sheets. The plant used is the same as KAJINOKI (Broussonetia papyriferia). The term 'cloth' is used to describe woven as well as knitted, plaited and felted materials. Many researchers have commented on the similarity of finely made bark cloth and paper. It is interesting to trace anthropologically, botanically and linguistically this possible ancestral material (bark cloth) of paper. The Inuits used whale bone beaters to make a kind of bark cloth and their ancestors have been traced back to the northern parts of Asia. The technique of making bark cloth in Africa probably was brought by the settlers from Southeast Asia via Madagascar. At about the same time another group of these same people migrated southwards toward the Pacific. This migration started about 7,000 to 9,000 years ago and continued until about 3,500 years ago. The migration route can be traced archaelogically and ethnologically from China into Southeast Asia through Indonesia, along the north coast of New Guinea where it then goes into the Solomon Islands and Fiji. Then from there into Tonga and Samoa and into the Eastern Pacific (New Zealand and Hawaii) . These settlers probably brought with them the skills, animals and plants they considered essential to their way of life. One of the plants they took with them was the paper mulberry or Broussonetia papyrifera, which adapted to the tropical climate. Linguistically, similar sounding words are used to describe bark cloth in parts of China, Indo-China and Polynesia. In China 'tapu' or 'tafu' (literally 'beaten cloth') or 'kupu' or 'kapu' (literally 'beaten paper mulberry cloth') are used to refer to bark cloth which was made by beating and felting together strips of mulberry bark. In Indo-China, 'tap' or 'khou' means 'to beat' and 'tapu' or 'khoupu' means 'beaten or felted mulberry cloth'. In the aboriginal language of Taiwan, the prefix 'tap' is used to refer to 'cloth'. In Polynesia (Hawaii), bark cloth is known as 'kapa' (the 'T' of 'tapa' is changed to 'K' in the Hawaiian language). In societies where bark cloth was made, it was used in the same secular and religious manner as paper and cloth. In South and Central America and Africa, the bark cloth was used like fabric for clothing and like paper for scrolls and books. It was also used for religious and ceremonial purposes and in some instances even assumed a sacred importance. In areas where European fabric had been introduced, for certain occasions the use of bark cloth was still preferred. In China, records indicate the existence of tapa production as early as the sixth century B.C. It was used for clothing and even light armour. The production continued in parts of China until this century. In Japan, phonetically, the character for paper is read as 'kami', which is the same reading for the words meaning 'above' or 'up' 'hair' ; and 'god' . One explanation given in the ancient chronicle, Nihon Shoki, written in 720 A.D., is that the original reading derived from the cloth made from kajinoki bark and hemp that was used for the sacred decorations on offerings to the gods. It is not clear if the cloth was felted or woven or both. The same phonetic reading of 'up' which means anything above or at the beginning or ahead of something, and 'hair' which is found on the top of our heads, and 'god' which is above all of us; may in some way be connected to the reverence the Japanese developed for paper and the art of making paper and the cultural importance of white paper to designate the purity and sacredness of things associated with temples and shrines. These include the paper used to tie back the hair of the temple maidens, the paper used for priests' clothing, and the special paper decorations found above our heads across the entrance to shrines. The special textured paper known as 'DANSHI' that is used for special and ceremonial occasions may have been developed to replace the bark cloth that was no longer being produced. The texture and weight of this paper bears a strong resemblance to fine bark cloth. When making bark cloth, the strips of bast fibers are beaten, partially retted then rebeaten until it becomes wider, softer and thinner. These beaten strips are felted together to form larger pieces. When making paper, the bast fibers are sometimes also retted and then beaten until completely separated then mixed with water and reshaped on a porous surface to form a sheet of paper. In many areas that produced bark cloth the development of paper making probably would have occured if the production of bark cloth was not discouraged or replaced by new materials from other outside cultures, since the step from making bark cloth to making paper is but a relatively small one.
The Beginning of True Paper
History credits Ts'ai Lun, a court official of the Han Dynasty, with the invention of papermaking in 105 A.D. This date is probably the year that the invention was officially reported to the Emperor. A more accurate description of Ts'ai Lun would be as the one who opened the door for wide scale production by improving the process. There is evidence that indicates that some form of papermaking occurred before the time of Ts'ai Lun. The development of the brush made from animal hair in the third century B.C. by Mein Tien, created an increased need for a writing surface that was cheaper and easier to produce than woven silk. Archaeological finds of pieces of ancient paper have been dated between 49 and 8 B.C. The first systematic dictionary completed in China around 69 A.D. contained a character for 'paper'. The character 'chih', contains the radical for thread and 'SHI' which means flat or even. This is a very accurate ancient description of the flat material made from threads or thread-like materials that we know as 'paper'. The basic technique of papermaking may have stemmed from the already existing knowledge of felting and the results of the process of washing silk floss padding. The silk floss was used as insulation for clothing and was periodically washed by beating the padding on a mat submerged in water. The broken fibers and lint would sink and collect on the surface of the mat. When this material was dried and treated, the surface was acceptable for writing, but the supply of the raw material was limited. Ts'ai Lun is said to have beaten old fish nets, cloth scraps and plant fibers to form a pulp to make paper. The production of bark cloth made from kajinoki fibers was well established in Ts'ai Lun's home province, so it is possible that some of the cloth scraps he used may have been bark cloth. Beaten plant fibers form a tighter bond which results in a better writing surface and the raw materials were more readily available. Paper found by Sir Aurel Stein in the Great Wall of China have been dated to this same period. The basic process of beaten fibers suspended in water, scooped onto a porous surface, drained and dried to form a sheet of paper has not changed since the first sheet.
Papermaking in Japan
The Chinese kept a tight monopoly on the production of paper. But being close to China, clans in Japan began absorbing knowledge and techniques from China. As cultural relations between the two countries developed, art works and skills such as writing and papermaking were introduced. The Nihon Shoki states that the returning Buddhist priest, Doncho of Koma (Korea), brought the skills of making ink and paper to Japan around 610 A.D. Prince Shotoku Taishi improved the introduced technique by promoting the use of KOZO (Broussonetia kajinoki) as a fiber for papermaking. He also encouraged the cultivation of hemp and kozo and the nationwide practice of the technique. During the Nara period (710-794), Empress Shotoku had a reported one million 'dharani' or Buddhist prayers charms (Hyakumanto) printed and placed in tiny wooden pagodas in 770. The charms were printed from copper blocks and became the first example of printed matter on paper. By the Heian period (794-1192), the Japanese were unrivaled in their skill and knowledge of papermaking. In 807, Emperor Heijo established the papermill, Kanya-in (also known as Kamiya-in and Shioku-in) in Kyoto to supply paper for the Imperial court and government use. Although the TAMEZUKI method was probably the primary method of papermaking used at Kanya-in, the unique NAGASHIZUKI method of making paper is thought to have developed during this period. Records indicate that there were at least 25 local areas producing paper at this time. By the end of the Heian period, papermaking was established as a strong cottage industry in many areas. The Engishiki (an ancient comprehensive Heian period chronicle written in 927), stated that 42 local areas paid their taxes and tributes with paper or related materials. Many examples of decorative papers of this period can still be seen in the "Sanjurokunin Kasen", a collection of poems by 36 noted poets, a National Treasure belonging to the Nishi Honganji in Kyoto. Due to the rise of Zen Buddhism during the Kamakura period (1192-1333), plain paper garments become fashionable. The use of washi also greatly increased among the aristocratic and samurai class. During the Edo period (1603-1867), the general public also began to use washi which was inexpensive and plentiful. Thus papermaking became an important industry. Echizen hoshoshi was designated the paper for official Shogunate governmental use. Also each clan had their own designated papermaking area and paper warehouse. Around 1620, merchants in Ise began issuing the first paper currency and soon each feudal lord began printing his own paper currency. The currency printed during this period were often done on elaborately watermarked papers to prevent counterfeiting. This continued until the Meiji government established a single currency system in the late l9th century. In 1798, Jihei Kunisaki published "Kamisuki Chohoki", the first practical manual on Japanese papermaking. The Jesuit missionaries used washi to print their books and helped to introduce washi to the Western world. The Dutch, who had sole trading rights with Japan, were instrumental in establishing a market for washi in Europe. Western artists, such as Rembrandt, used washi for sketches, printing and other art works. The use of paper handkerchiefs or 'hanagami' created a stir in Europe where only cloth ones were in use. During the 17th century, Englebert Kaempfer, a German scientist, was allowed to observe Japanese papermaking techniques. His writings presented an accurate description and gave Europe its first comprehensive view of this style of papermaking. The Meiji period (1868-1912) and the Meiji Restoration saw major changes in the lifestyle of Japan. These changes created new demands for paper. To meet the demand, machine-made paper and the use of wood pulp were introduced and production began to shift from washi to Western paper. The decreased demand forced many washi producers to lower production or stopped smaller scale production completely. In 1875, the Finance Ministry established a Papermaking Department as part of its Printing Bureau. The pure MITSUMATA paper manufactured by this department was one of the papers exhibited at the 1878 Paris World Fair and received high acclaim. The folk crafts movement started by Muneyoshi Yanagi, influenced the development of many dyed and decorative types of washi such as MINGEISHI, ITAJIMEZOME, etc. and opened a new market for the papermakers. The recognition of traditional papermaking techniques as a cultural asset by the designation of Ichibei Iwano's hoshoshi and Eishiro Abe's gampishi as Important Cultural Assets in 1968 insured the support for its preservation. Since then many other papermakers and their papers have gained national and prefectural recognition as Important Intangible Cultural Properties and Assets . About 30 years ago, the art world began experimenting with paper as a medium of expression. This departure from the traditional use of paper as simply a surface that carried the image, led artists to begin making their own paper or to work with papermakers in the production of special or unique washi. Many papermakers now collaborate with artists in the production of paper art in efforts of further promoting an awareness for the versatile nature of washi. In 1983, Kyoto hosted the International Paper Conference. This event brought papermakers, conservators, artists and others interested in paper from all over the world together to discuss and share new ideas. In order to increase the awareness and use of washi among the general population, papermakers are working with designers, architects, interior designers, etc. to find new uses for washi and the development of new kinds of washi. Even with these efforts, the number of papermakers in Japan has sharply decreased from over 60,000 at the beginning of this century to currently about 400 (based on 1983 data).
Awa Washi and the Fujimori Family
The Fujimori family can trace its papermaking roots back to 1825, when records indicate that Mohachi began manufacturing washi as a side business. This may have started as an off-farming season activity by earlier generations, but there are no existing records to substantiate this, although this tradition of making washi has been handed down generation to generation to today.
The Meiji era brought with it an increased demand for paper and during this period, Chozo established a small scale papermaking factory around 1880. Then in 1917, he and the other papermakers in the village formed a cooperative to market their papers. In an effort to expand their market, the cooperative opened an outlet in Osaka. But the severe economic decline that followed the end of the First World War, led to the bankruptcy and subsequent closure of the Osaka outlet. This also resulted in over half of the cooperative membersclosing their businesses. Chozo and his son, Hidekazu, continued making paper on a reduced scale. During World War Il, Hidekazu was ordered by the military to produce papers that were to be used for hot air balloons to carry aerial bombs over the Pacific Ocean. Seventh generation, Minoru Fujimori took over the family business in 1945, after the end of World War II, and was determined to continue the tradition of making Awa washi despite the difficult economic times. In 1953, he founded Fuji Paper Mills Cooperative and in 1970, he was designated a Cultural Property of Yamakawa-cho for his hand papermaking skills. That same year he was also designated an Intangible Cultural Property of Tokushima Prefecture in recognition of his skills and efforts to continue the tradition of Awa washi. As the demand for washi changed from primarily utilitarian to more decorative and craft uses, Minoru Fujimori, with the help from the Tokushima Prefectural Industrial Testing Center, developed indigo-dyed washi using Tokushima produced indigo. In response to the interest in dyed washi, production of natural-dyed, clamp-dyed, tie-dyed and fold-dyed papers were also started. In 1976, Awa washi was designated a Traditional Craft Industry by Circa 1950's - Stripping kozo bark. Note the barrel shaped steamer in background.Kawahigashi, Yamakawa-cho, Oe-gun, TokuShima the Tokushima Prefectural Government . In
1984, Minoru Fujimori was selected as a Master Craftsman and awarded the medal for Technical Excellence by the Japanese Ministry of Labor in recognition of his efforts to preserve the art of making Awa washi. He later was awarded the Sixth Class Order of Merit, Sacred Treasure by the Japanese government in 1986. Currently, his son, Yoichi, is continuing the family business and tradition.
Yoichi Fujimori and his wife, Mieko, have conducted many washi making and dyeing workshops and demonstrations in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe in effort to introduce and promote washi and washi making. Since 1983, a week-long workshop to introduce the method of making Awa washi to interested people from all over the world and Japan, is held every August. Originally this event was sponsored by the Fujimori family and the Fuji Paper Mills Cooperative, but is now sponsored by The Hall of Awa Japanese Handmade Paper. Establishedin 1989,this non-profit museum (also known as the Washi Kaikan ) is dedicated to the preservation of the techniques and skills of Awa washi for future generations as well as the expansion, promotion and introduction of Awawashi to the general public through workshops, demonstrations, exhibitions, Minoru Fujimori,Intangible Cultural Property of Tokushima Prefeture
The Hall of Awa Japanese Handmade Paper, established in 1989. Yamakawa-cho, Oe-gun, Tokushima
lectures, etc. It was established through support received from the Fuji Paper group and the local, prefectural and national governments. It serves as an information and research center and has an extensive collection of books and other information on paper and related matters. It also collaborates with artists who come to use the facilities to make washi for their individual projects. It is one of several affiliated organizations under the Awagami Factory group. The affiliated organizations of this group consist of the Fuji Paper Mills Cooperative (also known as Fuji Paper), The Hall of Awa Japanese Handmade Paper, Awagami Factory in Osaka and the Awa Handmade Japanese Paper Industrial Cooperative. Fuji Paper Mills produces a wide variety of papers from traditional washi to new papers that answer a current need. It offers recycled papers in response to environmental concerns as well as traditional and new Japanese papers made from a wide variety of materials and in special sizes in answer to artists' requests. The mill also specializes in small lot, special original production and also machine-made papers with the qualities of washi. Machine produced washi helps to open up wider markets for this unique paper. In efforts of expanding the overseas market for Awa washi, affiliated outlets in Perth, Australia (The Paper Merchant) and Marina Del Rey, California, United States (Hiromi Paper International) have been established. To date the largest single sheet of handmade washi produced here was for an American artist, Joe Goode, and measured 3.9 meters x 4.3 meters (approximately 13 feet x 14.5 feet). In efforts to promote the use of washi in new and innovative ways, Fuji Paper Mills produced specially shaped indigo-dyed washi for use in the interior of the official guest reception halls at the Tsukuba Scientific Exposition in 1985 and for the Yokohama Exotic Showcase Exposition in 1989. Fuji Paper Mills Cooperative and The Hall of Awa Japanese Handmade Paper also collaborate with artists from Japan and around the world in the production of special order papers or assisting in the production of paper works and paper art. They also work with architects, interior and graphic designers and other professionals to develop new types of washi for contemporary needs. The Awagami Factory, located in Osaka, is Fuji Paper's "antenna shop". It offers for sale over 100 kinds of paper produced by Fuji Paper Mills and is an information center for ideas on the use of washi as a medium and for other utilitarian and decorative uses. It also sponsors exhibitions of new items made from washi which introduce the general public to new ways to include washi in their daily lives. In 1947 the Tokushima Prefectural Handmade Japanese Paper Cooperative was established but underwent organizational changes in November 1974 to become the Awa Handmade Japanese Paper Industrial Cooperative. In 1976, under the guidance of the prefectural papermakers, the cooperative developed and implemented a plan to promote the production of designated traditional craft items made from Awa washi. The future of Awa washi depends on flexibility, innovation and adaptability to the demands of a changing market. The Fuji Paper Mills Cooperative, The Hall of Awa Japanese Handmade Paper and the other affliliated organizations are working with other professionals and organizations (domestic and international) to find new ways of using and introducing washi, while maintaining the traditions that have been passed down for generations. With all these different efforts, the future of Awa washi seems a little brighter and in good hands.
Washi-Tamezuki and Nagashizuki
Washi, literally Japanese paper, is now manufactured by machine and by hand. Though nowadays, many use this term to imply only handmade Japanese paper. Tamezuki and nagashizuki are the methods often used to make washi by hand. Tamezuki, the accumulation method, is the older of the two methods. The Engishiki described this as the process used to make paper during the Heian period at the Imperial papermaking center, Kanya-in in Kyoto. The pulp materials, such as cloth scraps, kozo, asa, gampi, were cut into very small pieces then cooked in a mild alkaline solution. The cooked material was rinsed and cleaned then beaten for a long time to further break down and separate the fibers. This short fibered pulp was mixed with water and scooped onto a screened frame. Before all the water drained out, the papermaker would gently shake the mould to even out the distribution of the pulp. The paper was formed by a single scoop and without the use of NERI. The newly formed sheets of paper were separated by pieces of cloth to prevent them from sticking to each other during pressing. Special attention was given to the cutting and beating of the raw materials. This method is basically the same as the Western method of making paper. The early papermakers noticed that pulps containing gampi fibers had a slower drainage rate. The slower drainage allowed the papermakers to repeatedly move the pulp mixture back and forth over the screen surface which resulted in a stronger paper with more evenly intertwined fibers. Gampi releases a viscous liquid that changes the viscosity of the water thus slowing the drainage rate. For a while, gampi fibers were added to other fibers to achieve this same effect. But gampi is not cultivatable and difficult to obtain in such large quantities. This viscous material, neri, was then extracted from other more available plants . This led to the development of the nagashizuki or the flowing method of papermaking. The new method made the manufacture of strong, translucent thin sheets of paper possible and has become synonymous with washi. The nagashizuki method often uses a wooden mould and deckle unit with a removable flexible screen. The long fibered pulp is mixed together with neri, which changes the viscosity of the water. This slows the drainage and enables the fibers to stay in suspension during the sheet formation process. KAKENAGASHI, the first action that forms the face of the sheet of washi .
The nagashizuki method has three basic actions. The first action, KAKENAGASHI, is a small scoop of the pulp mixture, just enough to cover the screen surface. This is then quickly flowed across the entire surface of the screen away from the papermaker and any excess is tipped out over the far edge of the mould. This quick motion aligns the fibers perpendicular to the splints of the screen surface. This forms the face or front of the paper and makes it easier to remove the newly formed sheet of paper from the screen. The next action, CHOSHI, is a larger scoop of the pulp mixture and this is flowed back and forth, flowing evenly to coat the entire screen surface. Any extraneous material is tossed off (discharged from) the far end of the mould before another scoop of pulp mixture is taken. It is important that some pulp mixture remain in the mould to help counter the.pressure of the pulp mixture from the back side of the screen when the next scoop is taken. This action is repeated several times until the desired thickness of the paper is achieved. The thickness is built up layer by layer and the repeated motion enables the long fibers to become well entwind. CHOSHI, the second action that creates the thickness of the sheet of washi,layer by layer. The final action, SUTEMIZU, is similar to the first | action. The pulp mixture is quickly flowed over the entire surface then the excess is thrown off the far end of the mould. The quick motion aligns the fibers in one direction and forms the back of the paper. To help locate one edge of the sheets of paper on the post, a thin thread or ribbon is laid along the edge closest to the papermaker or this edge is carefully folded over a little to make it a little thicker. The flexible screen is then removed and the newly formed sheet of paper is couched off the screen surface directly onto the previously made sheet. Separation by pieces of cloth is unnecessary because of the use of neri. The manufacture of strong, translucent thin sheets of paper is possible using the nagashizuki method, but this method also lends itself to the manufacture of papers with a wide variety of thicknesses and characteristics. SUTEMIZU, the final action that forms the back of the sheet of washi.
From Plant to Paper (the process of making washi from kozo)
Harvesting the Bast Fiber
The kozo is harvested during the winter (December to February) after the leaves drop and only the bare stalks remain. The stalks are cut into 1.2 meter (about 4 foot lengths) and put into special barrel shaped steamers. The steaming process or SEIROMUSHI makes the removal of the bark in one continuous strip much easier. This stripping is done in a single action, beginning from the bottom of the stalk. The stripped bark, referred to as KUROKAWA, is then hung in bunches to dry. When these bunches are thoroughly dried, they are stored until needed. The stripped KUROKAWA hanging in bunches to dry.
The History of Awa Washi
The Kogoshui, an ancient chronicle written in 807, states that the grandson of Amenohiwashinomikoto came to Awa (the old name of Tokushima) and instructed the people to grow ASA (Cannabis sativa) and kozo for use in the manufacture of cloth and paper. The names of many places in Tokushima still reflect this, such as 'OE', which means 'to grow hemp'. It is believed that the production of Awa washi began around 700 A.D. The paper produced was meant for use by the privileged classes such as the aristocracy, priests and warriors (samurai). There were two basic types of cloth produced, one was called 'YU', which is said to have been made from kajinoki bark fibers (and may have originally been a form of bark cloth) and the other was called 'ARATAE', which was woven using spun hemp threads. The 'yu' is also known in Tokushima as 'TAFU'. The kajinoki stalks are steamed, the bark stripped then beaten to soften and separate the fibers. The fibers were then spun into threads and woven into a coarse fabric. This durable fabric was used in the old days for clothing and with repeated washing gradually became whiter and softer. The manufacture of this type of ancient fabric is being continued in Kito-son, Naka-gun, Tokushima. The fabric known as 'aratae' (written in many ways), is woven from spun hemp fibers. Since the time of the Inbe clan (the ruling family of Tokushima), this fabric has been one of the traditional tributes presented to the new Emperor during the 'Daijosai' or Enthronement Ceremony. The harvested hemp stalks are steamed and rolled in straw mats to ferment. These are then stripped and the fibers again fermented. This repeated fermentation helps to break down and soften the fibers. The fibers are scraped and spun into threads then woven into fabric. The shrine dedicated to the Inbe clan is located in Yamakawa-cho and was rededicated for the production of 'aratae' as the The ceremony blessing the first stalks before steaming. All steps in the process of making the ARATAE for the Enthronement Ceremony were blessed. official tribute from Tokushima Prefecture for the Enthronement Ceremony of Emperor Akihito in 1991. The production of washi flourished with the nationwide use of paper for religious texts, political records and literary works during the Heian period (latter half of the 7th century); it is at about this same time that the production of Awa washi is believed to have begun. The Engishiki states that tributes were made by Awa (or Tokushima) in the form of paper or related materials. During the Edo period, papers such as 'HOSHO' , 'SENKASHI' 'TAKENAGA' , 'HICHIKISHI' were used for clan currency and other official uses. But the use was still limited to the warrior or wealthy merchant families and the local people could not afford to use it. Generally the farmers in the mountain areas made washi to be used as tribute to the clan and to supplement their income during the farming off-seasons. The production of paper flourished in Yamakawa-cho (where Fuji Paper Mills Cooperative and The Hall of Awa Japanese Handmade Paper are located) because of the readily available and constant supply of water from the Kawata River and the plants used for fiber and NERI, which grow in abundance on nearby Mount Kotsu. The name of this mountain, also known as "The Mount Fuji of Awa", is said to have been derived from the word meaning 'kozo'. The turning point came during the Meiji Restoration (which began in 1870) when production began shifting from washi to Western paper. To meet the demand for more paper, machine-made paper was introduced. This dealt a heavy blow to the washi industry in Tokushima, even though the papers produced here received high acclaim when exhibited at the 1878 Paris World Fair. When washi production was at its peak during the Meiji Period, there were over 500 washi manufacturers in Tokushima, especially along the Yoshino River and over 100 manufacturers along the Kawata River in Yamakawa-cho. This prosperity was due to the availability of good water and abundant raw materials. It was also close to Osaka, the center of economic activities in western Japan. This dependence on the nearby big cities also caused the demise of many local manufacturers. Economic slumps, especially after the neartotal destruction following World War II, eliminated the demand for locally produced washi. This caused many to go bankrupt or change to other occupations. Now there are only four manufacturers in Tokushima (1 in Ikeda-cho, Miyoshi-gun; 3 in Kaminaka-cho, Naka-gun; and 1 in Yamakawa-cho, Oe-gun) who still produce washi by traditional methods.
Preparation of the Fibers
The dried strips of kurokawa are soaked overnight to soften the tissues and makes the removal of the outer layers easier. The soaked bark is carefully stepped upon and rubbed between the feet in running water to remove the loosened dark outer bark. If the dark outer bark is to be used in the making of specialty papers, this removal process is done under more controlled conditions so that the pieces of dark bark can be collected and dried separately.
Stepping on the KUROKAWA in the river to remove the dark outer bark.
Once the dark outer layer is com pletely removed, the AOHADA or green layer, which contains more hemicellulose than the pure white layer, is carefully scraped away with a knife. The scrapings are collected and used in the making of different kinds of paper. During this step any discolored areas, bud or branch scars, or other damaged areas are also removed. The amount of aohada removed determines the natural whiteness of the final paper. The cleaned SHIROKAWA or white bark is dried in a cool shaded area until ready for further processing. The shirokawa can be stored at this stage or the processing can continue. If the shirokawa has been dried, it is soaked overnight before cooking. This re-hydrates the dry bark and helps to remove any water-soluble elements (such as starches, tannin, proteins, etc.) and makes it easier for the alkaline solution to penetrate the fibers. The bark is again rinsed to remove any loose bits of rubbish before cooking. The prepared bark is cooked in an alkaline solution. The amount of alkali is determined by the type used. Traditionally, wood ÅiK2CO3 or potash] was used. Nowadays other stronger chemical alkalis are used such as caustic
Scraping off the AOHADA. SHIROKAWA (left) AOHADA (right)
The amount of alkali used is about 15% - 20% of the dry weight of the fiber to be cooked. This is added to water, the amount of which is equal to at least l0 times the weight of the dry fiber. The bark is added to this alkaline solution and this is brought to a boil then allowed to simmer for at least two hours. The bulk of the material decreases as the fibers soften and the liquid turns a dark brown as the non-cellulose materials are dissolved during the cooking process. The fibers are stirred occasionally to prevent scorching and to insure an even cook. The characteristic feel of washi is determined by the amount of non-cellulose materials contained in the fibers. When a strong alkali is used, more of the non-cellulose materials are dissolved resulting in a softer paper. If more noncellulose materials remain in the fiber, then the paper has more body. The type of alkali used also affects the color and feel of the fiber; so it is necessary to match the alkali used with the kind of paper to be made. (see Glossary for more specific information on the different alkalis. ) The fiber is tested after about two hours. A thick piece of bark is carefully removed and rinsed to cool. If it can be gently spread apart to reveal a fine network of fibers or if it can be pulled apart widthwise easily, then it is sufficently cooked. When the bark is sufficiently cooked, the heat is turned off and the cooked fiber is allowed to cool overnight in the solution. The next day, the cooked bark is removed and thoroughly rinsed in running water until all trace of the dark alkaline solution is removed. The cooked fiber is kept moist and cool to prevent it from spoiling. Once the cooked fibers have been rinsed, it must not be allowed to dry out. If the cooked fibers dry, the non-cellulose materials have a chance to reharden on the fiber making it difficult for the fiber to absorb water and the fibers must be recooked again before processing can continue. bark is spread apart.
Testing the cooked fiber. Note the fine network of fibers that are revealed when the bark is spread apart.
If white paper is to be made, the fibers are bleached at this stage. Traditionally natural bleaching methods involving running water ( KAWAZARASHI ), sunlight (TENPIZARASHI) and snow (YUKIZARASHI) were used. Nowadays chlorine based solutions are often used. After bleaching, the fibers are again thoroughly rinsed to remove all traces of the bleach. The rinsed fibers are placed in a strainer floating in water for further careful cleaning. This process is known as CHIRITORI, literally meaning 'to remove rubbish'. Any scar tissue, buds, unevenly cooked parts, discolored areas, etc. are carefully removed. Since the lignins and pectins that normally hold the fibers together have been removed, great care must be taken to keep the strip of cooked bark in one piece to prevent the loss of precious fibers.
CHIRITORI, carefully cleaning the cooked bark.
The cleaned strips of bark are now ready for beating. The beating of the damp strips of bark is done on a wooden or stone surface. The separate strips of bark are beaten until it becomes a mass of separated fibers. Now much of the beating is done by automated stampers or NAGINATA beaters (which resemble hollander beaters but have long curved blades rather than a beater roll). The beating process separates and roughens the surface of the fibers, it is not meant to cut or shorten the fibers. To test if the fibers are sufficiently beaten, a small amount of fiber is placed in water and stirred. If the fibers disperse evenly with no long thick fiber bundles floating, then the fiber has been sufficiently beaten.
The Basic Tools and Equipment
The fundamental tools required to make Japanese and Western papers are basically the same. The vat or SUKIBUNE, is traditionally made from pine or cypress wood. Nowadays wooden ones are often lined with stainless steel or made entirely from stainless steel or concrete. The primary function is to hold the fiber-neri-water mixture but it has several attachments that give it a different appearance from a Western vat. On the left and right side of the sukibune are two notched posts or TORII that support the UMAGUWA (a large comb-like tool) used to mix the fibers in the vat. Inside the sukibune are two narrow boards or OTTORI that are used to rest or support the KETA (papermaking mould) when opening it to remove or insert the SU (flexible screen). The major difference between a Japanese style mould and a Western mould is that the Western mould has a removable deckle and a rigid surface screen attached to the mould. The Japanese mould is hinged together with the deckle and the screen is a flexible removable surface.
SUKIBUNE with the TORII, UMAGUWA and OTTORI. SUKETA
The Basic Papermaking Process
The beaten fiber is added to the water in the sukibune. Usually the amount of fiber is equal to about 1% of the amount of water in the vat and this is mixed well to evenly disperse the fibers. Then the neri is added, the amount depends on the kind of paper to be made. If too little neri is added, the water drains too quickly for the pulp mixture to be flowed repeatedly over the screen surface; too much and it drains too slowly resulting in paper that is difficult to remove from the screen. (see Glossary for more information on neri.)
The nagashizuki method requiresthat the fiber mixture be constantly in motion over the surface of the screen. The sheet of paper is formed by three basic actions, KAKENAGASHI, CHOSHI and SUTEMIZU. The actual motions involved varies according to the kind of fiber used, paper to be made and the individual papermaker. It is said that on the average, and depending on the kind of paper, a single sheet of paper takes one minute to complete; resulting in about 40 sheets per hour (allowing time to add pulp and neri to the vat) or about 300 sheets per day. Once the three basic actions are mastered, improvement comes with the elimination of all unnecessary or wasted movements. Depending on the size of the mould, it can become very heavy when it contains the fiber mixture during the papermaking process. To help counter the weight and movement of the mixture, the mould is supported by a YUMI, an overhead suspension system. Traditionally these were made from bamboo but now high tension springs are often used. The suspension system is attached to the center back part of the lower portion of the mould and to the handles of the mould. Smaller moulds are suspended only from the handles. The screen and the completed sheet of paper is removed from the keta and in a smooth overhead motion it is moved from the mould to the SHITODAI or couching stand. The couching stand is placed directly behind the papermaker and has a flat surface unlike the curved surface of the Western style couching stand. The flexible screen is aligned with the guides or JOGI attached to the stand, to insure the accurate placement of the new sheet directly on top of the previous sheet. The edge closest to the papermaker is laid down and the flexible screen is kept at a 90° angle as it is carefully lowered to prevent trapping any air between the sheets. When the entire screen and the new paper is laid on the post, the screen is lifted starting from the edge nearest the papermaker then peeled off away from the papermaker, and replaced in the mould but with the opposite side of the screen now facing up. This insures even use of both sides of the screen and prevents the build up of any fiber residue on the surface that may interfere with the smooth removal of the new paper. If the papermaker will not immediately make another sheet of paper, the screen is left on top of the papers on the post to preventthe surface of the top sheet from drying out.
Couching the paper. Note the flexibility of the bamboo screen.
The post of newly made papers islightly weighted and allowed to drain naturally overnight. The next day, it is put into the ASSAKUKI or press and gradually pressed until about 30% of the moisture is removed. Traditionally a counter-weighted press was used but nowadays hydraulic presses are also used. The pressed papers are carefully removed one by one from the post and brushed onto boards to dry naturally (ITA BOSHI) or onto steam heated metal surfaces (KANSO-KI) to dry quickly. The drying method, natural or mechanical, affects the finished paper, so the drying method is matched with the kind of paper made. (see Glossary for more information on drying)
Brushing the pressed damp paper onto the drying board. ITABOSHI-Board drying the papers.
In the old days, the finished papers were then cut by hand into specific sizes and also to remove the deckled edges. Nowadays the rough or deckled edges are maintained as an indication of its manufacture by hand. The finished papers may be treated with DOSA (a sizing to prevent ink bleeding), KONNYAKU (a starch derived sizing for wet strength) or KAKISHIBU (persimmon tannin). It may also be dyed with chemical or natural dyes or textured to make paper like MOMIGAMI (a randomly crumpled paper) or CHIRIMENGAMI (a crepe textured paper). The completed papers are then made available for sale after a final check and grading.
Western Paper and Washi
Often, the best way to understand new things is to compare them to familar ones. Therefore, a comparison between the materials and methods used in making Western paper and washi is helpful in gaining an understanding and appreciation for washi. Western Paper * Usually made from short fibers; now often wood pulp used. * Plant materials are principal ingredients but other materials are also added (sizing, fillers, etc. ) * Bleached by chemical methods; tends to weaken and shorten the life of the fibers. * Beating method tends to cut fibers into short lengths. * Manufacturing does not require the use of a formation aid. *Made by the TAMEZUKI method; one dip action, fibers in random alignment . * Pressed to remove as much moisture as possible to bond fibers into a strong sheet. * High pressure used during pressing. * Paper hung over ropes to dry. High shrinkage rate, cockling often occurs, requiring additional pressing to flatten. * Paper tends to be heavy and thick. * Paper is usually stiff and firm. * Paper is opaque . *Paper variety and characteristics limited. Washi * Long bast fibers used. *Usually no other materials added to fiber mixture. * Unbleached or natural bleaching methods used. * Beating method roughens and separates fibers; length not affected. * Manufacturing process (nagashizuki) requires the use of NERI, a viscous formation aid. * Made by NAGASHIZUKI method; paper built layer by layer, fibers aligned in direction of rocking motion . * Pressed gradually, removes only 30% of moisture content; fiber bonding occurs gradually. * Gradual pressure used . * Brushed onto flat surfaces to dry. Low shrinkage rate; dries flat. * Paper is lighter and thinner. * Paper is more flexible and porous; permits ventilation. * Paper is translucent. * Variety of thicknesses and charac teristics possible.