There are many paper artisans here in Echizen Washi, but few people know
about us individually. Our paper has been sold in markets everywhere by many local and
domestic distributors as paper for materials such as sake labels, wall
paper, wrappings and so on.
Here I’d like to introduce some of them with their family history.
Ichibei Iwano ( Living national treasure in Washi ) ( hosho )
Ichibei Iwano and his wife
The ninth generation in Iwano family. His father, the eighth, was also a living national treasure, which means you have to keep the Japanese traditional way of making Washi, using 100% of the Japanese Kozo with hands, no machines. He mainly makes `hosho paper` for woodblock print like `ukiyoe`.
I often visit him and he sometimes teaches me the paper history and shows me some famous art works on his paper. The texture and quality are really special, so his paper helps art works last forever. The visitors are often surprised to see how strong the paper is when Mr. Iwano tries to tear the paper but hardly can.
He often says he has to calm himself down to make good paper, no anger and no irritation. His father told him not to think about taking an easier way in making his paper because each process is very important. There are lots of guests visiting him, but he has enough passion to explain his work one by one seriously. "This is my lifework. I don’t know why but I need to tell people about Echizen…", he often says to me.
Marbling Paper ( sumi-nagashi , pouring calligraphy ink ) Studio
Marbling Paper Studio (Mr.Fukuda)
Mr.Fukuda is in his eighties and very energetic to have had his marbling paper workshops everywhere in Japan and even in overseas. You can visit him anytime to join in the workshop ( one sheet for 500yen ), but please be sure to make a reservation beforehand ( please contact me, Rina, the guide. It takes about one hour to make one marbling paper.
In the workshop, you don't make paper but design a picture with ink colors. You will use two brushes ; one dipped in ink mixed with pine resin and the other dipped only in pine resin, and dip them again into a shallow vat filled with water one after the other. Then layers of circle appears on the surface of the water. By making a wave with a fan or your breath, the circles change the form to be a unique design.
"Seeing is believing" ! Please try it if you have a chance to visit our village! You'll also enjoy meeting with Mrs. Fukuda, the wife, who has very warm feelings.
Umeda Washi Stuido
Umeda Washi Stuido appearance
Mr.Umeda, the president, pursues quality in papermaking using 100% Kozo, Mitsumata and Gampi cultivated in Japan. Paper conservators in the world seek out his paper for their work. Some people enjoy calligraphy using a small brush on Gampi paper.
In the old days they made paper only placing emphasis on how to attract business based on price and trends, but his father decided to change direction completely and started hand-making pure paper about two dacades ago in addition, they also manage a factory producing paper using machines.
Any kinds of order are welcome. They use various kind of ash to cook materials like soda, wood, mugwort and so on; it all depends on customer's order.
Umeda Shop on Washi Street
There is also a shop on Washi Street in this village run by Mr.Umeda's sister since 1983. You can see the all Umeda's paper there; both machine and handmade.
Shohachi Paper Studio (paper for woodblock printing, brush ink art etc)
Shohachi Paper Studio (Shohachi Yamaguchi)
It seems to me that he enjoys the result of the paper quality using new materials or new studies for the portion. He uses Japanese materials whereas most of the Echizen studios use imported cheaper ones from overseas. In his leisure time he does pottery, so I can say he really loves working with his own hands.
Jiyomon Paper Studio (koma-gami)
Jiyomon Paper Studio
the NERI materials on the right in the picture, which is so called `glue` for making paper, just after delivered from the Washi Industrial Accosiation
I have been working for this paper studio since 2000. This studio is mainly run by the family; my boss, his younger brother, the brother's son, the boss's mother, the boss's aunts and uncle.
The mother of my boss, age 82, takes care of me very much and we often talk about the family's paper history and Echizen Washi. Her husband passed away more than twenty years ago and his younger sisters and brother have helped the business even after they got seventies. They all look very young and energetic! Now they don't work for long hours like before and I miss very much talking with them about politics, social issues, educational problems etc sharing the generation gaps.
The mother is also an artist and we had an exhibition together in 2007 with her paper art works and my woodblock printing works on my own papers. She started her art activities in her sixties after her husband's passing and is still passionate enough to think about the new designs all the time. I learn a lot from her that there are always unknown possibilities in our lives.
This studio produces various kinds of paper such as sake labels where the sake makers can easily print their own logo marks, lampshade paper, paper for umbrellas, endless paper and so on. They always challenge new types of paper and have sophisticated skills for new demand.
MO Paper Studio (paper for water color and printing)
MO Paper Studio (Mohachi Oki)
I didn't know this studio produces the paper my artist friend in Nagoya has been using for his works for long years. Oki-san, the couple, is always nice to me and we often talk about mountain hiking. They used to join in marathon too and I sometimes ask for their advice for my jog training. Through our talk, we also found it was this studio which produced papers for my university's graduation certificates. They showed me its original frame to design the water mark for its name. What a surprise.....