Brief History of Shiroishi Washi
In Edo period (1603-1867), the then shogunate, Kojyuro Katakura, actively promoted the Washi-making industry to improve the economy.
In Meiji period (1867-1912), the hand-made Washi industry declined because of mechanizations and import of paper. In additional, Shiroishi Washi is not suited to be machine-made, so only few families continued to make Shiroishi Washi.
Now only one family continues to make Shiroishi Washi. Because of its high quality, the Washi is used in many important events, by artists and many dignitaries including the Japanese emperor.
Different Uses of Shiroishi Washi
"Omizu-tori" is an event that monks practicing asceticism acknowledge their misdeeds and reform in the most famous temple "Todaiji" in Kyoto. In this event, monks wear holy clothes made of Shiroishi Washi.
When the Washi was used to record the Japanese Instrument of Surrender ending the Second World War, it is said that Admiral MacArthur Douglas wished for peace that could last as long as the Washi.
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Shiroishi Washi - Step-by-Step Explanation
Growing wood called "Kouzo" and plants called "Tororo-aoi" - the main materials of Washi paper.
Cutting and steaming "Kouzo", then drying up the steamed "Kouzo" which is called "Kuro-kawa" meaning black bark.
After soaking "Kuro-kawa" for two nights, the outer layer of "Kuro-kawa" is striped, leaving the inside which is the main material for making Washi. The inside is called "Shiro-kawa" meaning white bark.
Drying up and freezing "Shiro-kawa" outside in the cold weather.
Soaking "Shiro-kawa" for one night, which will become softened. The resulting material is called "Kami-kusa".
Washing "Kamikusa" and boiling it with lye in a big iron container for four hours.
Removing impurities and pounding "Kamikusa" for thirty minutes.
Putting "Kamikusa" into a water tank and dissolving it into a liquid with "Manga" which is a blender made of bamboo.
Mixing "Kamikusa" and "Nire-jiru" which is the syrupy liquid made of "Tororo-aoi", and stirring them using "Manga". The pulpy liquid is called "Funa-mizu".
This step is the most impressive in the papermaking process: Scooping "Funa-mizu" with a bamboo blind. Because of the effect of "Nire-jiru", "Funa-mizu" is spread on a bamboo blind. Then, the paper called "Kamikure" is piled up.
Pressing the moist "Kamikure" and drying it up.
Peeling Washi from "Kamikure" one by one, and airing the sheets in the sun.
The Items of Japanese Paper
The Brief of Shiroishi Washi
Shiroishi Washi paper is all hand-made and used by many dignitaries including the Japanese emperor.
When the Washi was used to record the Japanese Instrument of Surrender ending the Second World War, some foreign generals went to Shiroishi town to see how such a high-quality and strong paper was made.
Now Shiroishi Washi paper is made by only one family in Shiroishi town.
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