Japan Trip – Part 3 – The Paper!

This is part three in a three-part series on my trip to Japan. You can read Part 1 here. And Part 2 here.

Here’s a short recap about the trip:

My husband Ted and I took a two-week trip to Japan in late November/early December 2019. The main reason was to visit our son, a junior in college at DePaul University in Chicago, who is doing a semester abroad at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka.

I waited 30 years for this adventure, and it was definitely worth the wait! I was living in NYC back then, working odd jobs and trying to find something I was passionate about. My father was in Japan for the summer, and my  mother took me with her on a short vacation to see him and tour around a bit. I already had an interest in paper, but that trip was a turning point: we stayed in a traditional inn in Kyoto (a ryokan) and being surrounded by light filtering through shoji screens sparked a new interest in paper and light.

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Back in the studio, I finally found a bit of time to go through the papers I purchased in Japan. I have to admit that overwhelm set in quickly while traveling, so I didn’t do as much shopping as you might think! I’ll have to go back, and thankfully there are several paper suppliers here in the states, who carry Japanese papers. Hiromi Paper, Miki’s Papers/Paper Tree, Mulberry Papers & More, Paper Connection International, and Washi Arts, to name a few.

I don’t speak or read Japanese at all, so I don’t know that much about these papers (fiber content, printing methods, etc).

Below you see the sheets made by makers I met. From left to right: two heavier weight sheets of Japanese kozo paper created in Yamaguchi Shohachi’s studio; two thin whispy sheets of mitsumata paper created by Chie Honma; a gorgeous lace paper that I purchased at Ozu Washi in Tokyo (I asked where it was made, but didn’t write it down, darn); two lace papers from the studio Ryoso Yanase, and some swatches of kozo paper made by living national treasure Ichibei Iwano, the bottom right corner swatches are painted with kakishibu (persimmon tannin). I purchased a bottle of that to play around with, too.

This is a selection of inexpensive machine-made kraft papers in some fun patterns that I got at Itoya in Tokyo.

I like polka dots and got one in each color.

Chiyogami comes in hundreds of designs, making it really hard to choose! I picked a few that I wasn’t familiar with.

This is a machine-made paper I purchased at Ozu Washi in Tokyo. The circles look like they are watermarked.

I picked up a selection of these screen printed papers at Morita Washi in Kyoto. They had shelves and shelves of papers in lots of sizes and patterns.

I love kyoseishi papers, which are crumpled. I found some of these in paper stores and others in stationery or calligraphy shops.

These oversized sheets measure close to 30″ x 40″.

It’s hard to see in this photo, but these papers each have unusual textures or surfaces.

The color variety in these inexpensive ‘farmers papers’ was astounding. I purchased only about 1/3 of the colors they had in stock. These were inexpensive, and I’m pretty sure they are handmade.

Ozu Washi had probably 30 drawers of these itajame dyed papers.

I stopped in several Daiso shops (dollar stores) because they carry origami paper and I found different types in each shop. Here’s my haul.

I’m a paper wallet/pouch/bag junkie, and I picked up a few of these in Japan. The burgundy one is made by Siwa, a company that produces all sorts of paper “bags”. Click through to see more of their products. Fun fact: the name, Siwa is both a reversing of the characters in the word washi (wasi), and a word meaning crinkle in Japanese.

This wallet was in a paper shop along the Philosopher’s Road in Kyoto. It is lined with fabric, and has an unusual closure (a plastic piece that sides underneath a string.

This is a business card holder made at Osada Kazuya in Echizen.

I hope you enjoyed my adventure in Japan. Guess what? I am seriously considering bringing a group to Japan in 2021 or 2022. I think I’ve found a partner on the ground there who speaks Japanese. Please leave a comment if you think you might be interested (please include your e-mail address, because it won’t show up with your comment). I am envisioning a trip that would combine visiting paper places and creating Japanese-inspired paper objects. In the meantime, I hope to attend the IAPMA Congress in Japan next fall.

And I know you see this every week on my blog, and you probably don’t even look at it anymore, but these posts about Japan took me over 10 hours to compile (without compensation). I am by no means complaining – I feel so lucky to have found a true passion – and I do so love and enjoy what I do! But here’s a fact: my hubby (the writer and editor) gets $1-$2 per word when he writes a magazine article.

So on that note, if you read this blog and enjoy it, would you consider making a donation to support the research, writing, design and delivery of The Sunday Paper? Click on the paper button at the left to learn how. Or, perhaps you’re interested in promoting your business in The Sunday Paper.

Thanks to everyone who has already pledged your support!

And feel free to SHARE THIS blog post with your paper- and Japan-loving friends!

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I'm Helen Hiebert!

THE SUNDAY PAPER brings you stories and examples of people doing exciting, innovative, and beautiful things with paper, as well as link to interesting paperfacts from around the globe. Read all about it here!


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