Mino Washi - A Traditional Japanese Craft
This video, titled "Paper Making at the Mino Washi Studio "Corsoyard" (美濃手漉き和紙工房Corsoyardの紙づくり「本美濃紙」), was created by "Handmadepaper Corsoyard."
It introduces the process of making handmade Mino Washi paper.
Making traditional Mino Washi involves a series of complicated processes which you can learn more about in this introductory video.
The Mino Handmade Paper Co-operative (美濃和紙協同組合) and Mino Washi Preservation Society (美濃和紙保存会) have successfully preserved the traditional Japanese craft of Mino Washi throughout the years.
Together with Sekishu-banshi (石州半紙) and Hosokawashi (細川紙), Mino Washi (Honminoshi) was registered as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in Japan in 2014.
How Mino Washi is Made
As you can see from 0:08 in the video, Mino Washi is made from the highest quality mulberry called kouzo (楮), a special breed specifically used for making Mino Washi, using traditional Japanese techniques.
The first step to making Mino Washi involves soaking the paper mulberry overnight in water and washing away any impurities in a process called "Mizusarashi" (水晒し).
The paper mulberry may also then be removed from the water and laid out on the ground, being exposed to the sunlight in a process called "Agesarashi" (あげ晒し).
From 5:56 in the video, you can see the mulberry plant material being boiled in a process called "Shajuku" (煮熟) after which the material is pounded.
Traditionally, potassium bicarbonate extracted from wood ash was used during the boiling process.
However these days, sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate or sodium hydroxide are commonly used, depending on the type of material being used.
The fibrous material is then poured into a vessel called a "Sukifune" which the craftsmen can then use to create the Mino Washi paper.
The fibers can be easily broken down due to removal of dirt and impurities in the previous steps.
From 30:57 in the video, you can see the large sheets of washi paper being taken outdoors to dry in the sun.
As there are many important steps and rules to follow in order to make Mino Washi, it is essential that all of the craftsmen are highly skilled.
There are currently only five craftsmen, members of the Mino Washi Preservation Society, who are able to make Mino Washi using traditional techniques.
Where to Purchase Mino Washi
There are many stores and workshops in the Mino area of Gifu prefecture where you can buy handmade Mino Washi paper.
The natural materials and traditional techniques together produce paper that has a beautiful, transparent finish characteristic of Mino Washi.
Mino Washi paper is often used to make Japanese sliding doors called "Fusuma" (襖) and "Shoji" (障子).
Recently, Mino Washi is gaining in popularity and you can now find a variety of items made from Mino Washi, such as "Gifu Uchiwa Fans" or "Goshuincho," books used to collect shuin stamps at shrines and temples.
Accessories or origami made from Mino Washi also make great gifts!
Many of these traditional craft goods can be purchased for a reasonable price so be sure to check out what's available!
Mino Washi products can be purchased online as well as at stores and workshops in Gifu prefecture.
Summary of Mino Washi Paper - A Traditional Craft of Japan
We hope you enjoyed watching this introductory video outlining the complicated processes involved in making the traditional Mino Washi paper of Mino, Gifu.
Mino Washi is handmade paper of the highest quality and has even been registered as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Japan.
If you're traveling to Gifu, an area which famous for the World Heritage Site Shirakawa-go (白川郷), be sure to check out the beautiful Mino Washi items on sale!