ABOUT Shiroishi Washi
Strong and plump! Traditional Japanese paper
made out of local Kozo fiber in Shiroishi city
It is said that the technique of making paper had come from China through Korea to Japan along with the import of Buddhism.
It had been developed in the Japanese climate as Washi by the method of papermaking called “nagashi-zuki”.
The Washi produced in Tohoku region had been brought to Kyoto and used as “Michinoku-gami” by Murasakishikibu and Seishonagon, the great novelist and essayist from the Heian period (794-1184).
The Shiroishi Washi, descended from Michinoku-gami, has been protected and developed by family members of Date, lord of the Sendai, and the family of Katakura, lord of Shiroishi castle.
The local Kozo fiber was used for making Shiroishi Washi and it had been developed as winter work of farmers, a task that supplemented a farmer’s income.
Now Shiroishi Washi is the specialty of Shiroishi city.
Gently rubbed and tailored Washi clothes called Kamiko, and the textile called Shifuori, which was weaved with the strings made out of shredded Shiroishi Washi, were well known for a long time, but the production of Shiroishi Washi decreased because of mass production of cheap paper.
At the beginning of Showa period (1926-1989), the 8th generation Washi craftsman, Tadao Endo, revived traditional paper making using Kozo fiber.
The result of Tadao’s spending time and effort on the craft’s revival attracted people. Later, Shiroishi Washi started to be used as material for ceremonial robes at Omizutori at Todai-ji temple in Nara prefecture.
Tadao organized the “Shiroishi home province lab” with Nobumitsu Katakura, 15th generation of the Katakura family. In 1948, Chutaro Sato, one of the members of “Shiroishi home province lab” created the technique called “Takuhon-zome” (rubbed).
Takuhon is the technique to make patterns on papers strengthened by coating paper with konnyaku glue, and it revived the making of material for paper clothes called Kamiko.
Now, Tadao’s wife Mashiko has taken over the technique and two workshops of Shiroishi Washi, and runs their businesses. People who love making Shiroishi Washi have made a home for the craft so everyone can enjoy its beauty.