Most viewed - Kurotani Washi Papermaking 黒谷和紙
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Kurotani Washi-no-Sato Japanese papermaking village in Ayabe, Kyoto.33 viewsOnce upon a time, there were a number of washi paper makers in northern Kyoto like Tango washi and Tanba washi, but now there's only one traditional maker that has survived called Kurotani washi. They work here in the small Kurotani Valley.
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Kurotani is the name of the village (now part of Ayabe city) where they make Kurotani washi paper. This is the entrance to the small village in a valley.32 viewsKurotani Village started making washi about 800 years ago when 16 warriors of the Heike Clan defeated by the Minamoto Clan in Kyoto (Genpei War 1180–1185) fled and hid here to avoid capture. They and the local farmers made a living in summer by growing rice, but since there was nothing to do in winter, they thought of making washi paper. Washi can only be made in winter since it requires cold water.
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A few people even embedded leaves.17 views
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Our instructor first showed us how it was done. He used a mold to make eight washi postcards. 16 views
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The postcards looked quite thick out of the mold, but they would get much thinner when dried.16 views
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While soaking, the kozo bark is also kneaded by human feet to soften it. The water is cold, and it's a traditional job for the grandmas.15 views
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Dump the postcard mold into the vat and swish it left/right and forward/back evenly.15 views
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Inside Kurotani Washi Kaikan gift shop.14 views
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Kurotani washi mainly uses kozo or mitsumata mulberry plants as the raw material. This is our Kurotani washi guide showing us the kozo plants that can grow to three meters high.14 viewsThey are harvested in autumn by cutting the trunks or branches. They grow kozo mulberry near Ayabe Station. Kozo is called "kago" in Kurotani.
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Washi papermaking room where we tried making Kurotani washi paper (postcards).14 views
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They later sent us our postcards. Mine came out okay.14 views
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While the kozo branches are still hot, elderly ladies twist and strip off the brown bark (kuro-kawa 黒皮). The bark is dried, then soaked in river water like here.13 views
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She's Horie Sayo, 86 years old, been doing it since her teens. 13 views
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The brown kozo bark is shaved and scraped with a knife by hand to remove the brown bark skin and other blemishes. Then the becomes thin, white strips that are dried in the sun. (shiro-kawa 白皮)13 views
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Also visited Kurotani Washi Kougei No Sato (Kurotani Washi Craft Village 黒谷和紙 工芸の里) a 20-min. car ride away.13 viewsThey were using an old elementary school.
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They use the 1st floor for making paper, while the second floor are washi exhibition rooms.13 views
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Entrance hall with origami cranes made of Kurotani washi. It really looks like an old school.13 views
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Takes three years to learn how to make washi paper with a mold. Ten years to become an expert. 13 viewsBut we did it in a minute or two... Just dip the mold into the fibrous water, and swish it to the left/right and forward/back.
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Afterward, we could decorate our postcards with colored ink/fibers.13 views
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To make the paper fibers for washi, there are many laborious steps. After the kozo branches are cut in even lengths, they are stuffed in a barrel (koshiki) like this and placed over a boiling and steaming iron pot for three to four hours 13 viewsto soften the brown bark.
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This shows how they typically hang and dry the white strips and bark strips.13 views
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Kurotani village has this Kurotani Washi Kaikan gift shop (黒谷和紙会館). Kurotani is not touristy because it's not convenient to get here.12 views
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Kurotani village was blessed with this clean Kurotani River, essential for papermaking. Kurotani washi is quite famous now, even overseas.12 views
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We just happened to come across her in the river kneadking the brown bark. How lucky we were.12 views
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Corridor to rooms.12 views
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A large vat (sukifune) filled with washi fibers floating evenly in the water. The fibers are mixed in with a plant-based adhesive so they don't sink to the bottom and they also cling together to make the paper. 12 viewsA wooden mold (keta 桁) to make eight postcards on the right. Kurotani washi bills itself as Japan's strongest paper. In the 1920s, Kurotani washi was tested for strength and was declared the strongest washi in Japan. I was told Kurotani's kozo has longer fibers than other species so the paper is stronger.
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About sugeta.12 views
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The vat and mold to make paper.12 views
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The washi shets are dried on wooden boards.12 views
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Kurotani washi can even be used for umbrellas.12 views
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Gift shop.12 views
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Places in Japan where washi is made.12 viewshttps://kurotaniwashi.kyoto
English: https://kurotaniwashi.kyoto/?page_id=450
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White kozo bark strips drying. These will then be mashed and beaten into fibrous globs. Preparing the kozo fibers from the bark is the most laborious and time-consuming part of washi making.11 views
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They offer washi papermaking lessons for ¥1,300 including admission.11 views
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Then it goes through a mechanical beater for 10 min. to become a wet, fibrous mass. They also make and add a plant-based adhesive. 11 viewsHere's a good video (in Japanese) showing how they do it (the woman we saw in the river also appears in this video): https://youtu.be/-3ws9DlPVHo?t=425
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Later, it is mashed/beaten in a stone mortar.11 views
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Second floor in former classrooms are exhibition rooms.11 views
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Kurotani washi has long fibers, making it very strong and durable. It has many uses such as umbrellas, shoji paper sliding doors, and packaging.11 views
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Kami-suki is what everyone can experience.10 views
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Local public schools have their kids make their diplomas with Kurotani washi.10 views
   
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