The number of craftsmen manufacturing Japanese traditional handmade washipaper
is decreasing every year. The loss of these traditional manufacturing techniques
represents a loss of Japanese heritage. We think we need to appeal to consumers
in order to maintain interest in this intangible cultural treasure.
Our research of handmade Japanese washi paper found that there were 62,685
manufacturers in 1894 but this had decreased to only 317 manufacturers
by 2004. (source:- ‘50 years history of a Japanese washi paper - industrial
cooperative society in Fukui prefecture’ and ‘Research of handmade Japanese
washi paper’). One of the reasons for this drop in numbers is the westernization
of Japanese lifestyle after the Meiji era. Decreasing demand for items
previously considered necessities of life such as Japanese sliding doors
and paper screens, had a profound effect on the demand for washi paper.
Many of the traditional techniques and tools used in washi production are
passed down from generation to generation. The process of manufacturing
washi is done under natural conditions resembling traditional agriculture.
Washi paper manufacture embodies the craftsman’s high technique and the
history and culture of the craft. We feel it is worthwhile to attempt to
recapture this part of Japanese culture and to communicate it to the current
As part of our promotion activities we produce and distribute ‘Chigirie’
handmade picture books employing washi paper in Japan and overseas, teach
the history and details of historical washi paper production centres and
to hold classes for crafts using washi paper. We think these opportunities
are not only a start for people to deepen interest in Japanese culture
and history but will also promote international exchange sharing knowledge
and experiences. In introducing washi crafts to other countries, we are
are extending Japanese culture overseas.