June, 2006

This page is written monthly
by Harumi Okochi.
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Akari by Isamu Noguchi

Japanese Paper

Do you like Japanese paper?
It is soft, strong, and beautiful. Traditional Japanese houses are built with woods and paper, roughly speaking.
In Edo Period, until about two hundred years ago, one of the main products of this district was paper.

I would like to show you a book (scroll shaped) written in 1784 about the products of Karatsu. In this scroll, the author added many illustrations to describe the details. They are quite interesting, and I hope you will enjoy.

I will mix some photos to explain you more clearly about the making of Japanese paper.



1 Kozo
2 Mitsumata
3 Ganpi

These three trees are the main materials of Japanese paper.

Here, I will explain about Kozo paper making process.
Kozo is harvested, cut for proper size, and covered by a wooden barrel, steamed 3〜4 hours to make peeling easy.
 Material is gathered.
You will see the village-folk gather Kozo and bring it to the office.
Steaming of Kozo.
Steamed bark is now easy to peel. Then the peeled black skin is dipped in streams to separate the white part and the black part.
This is how to peel the black skin.
White skin is hung on a bar and is dried in the sun
The white skin is boiled in ash(soda) and water, and this process makes the fiber soft.
Boiling the white skin.
The boiled white skin is again put in the stream for the propose of whitening..
Then it is hit with an oak stick repeatedly to make the fiber very soft.
Then the fiber is put in the water tank, and glue is added in.
The liquid is stirred until it is equally mingled.
Wooden frames with thin net inside were dipped in the liquid and lifted up. On the surface of the net, a film of paper is formed. By repeating, you can get a thicker film.
The wet films are taken away from the frame carefully, and piled, then weight was put to squeeze out the water. Then each film is removed and put on panels to dry.
Sun makes the paper whiter.
When i is dry, it is lifted from the panel.
Paper is completed.
Congratulations !
In Yoyokaku, you will see so many 'Shoji's.
Shoji is a sliding door or window.
Shoji's soft mellow light relaxes us.
It is easily broken, but it is easy to replace it too. Before the new year, women are busy to replace the shoji paper. The brand new Shoji purifies the house and also our hearts.

 Wood-and-paper houses are good for your health, and also good for your nerves.
Outside of the paper windows, there are glass windows. But in old days, there was no glass. At night, wooden doors were pulled out to protect the house, but in daytime even in winter, paper was the only screen to guard against the cold winds. People were more strong then. Earth was safer then.

Thank you for your visiting this page. I hope I will see you next month again.

Thank you very much for visiting this page.
I hope you will return next month.
Yours, Harem

Proprietress of

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