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The World of Japanese Paper Is Deeper Than You Think

This video, titled "Making the Thinnest Sheet of Paper in the World," was released by "Great Big Story."
Introducing the characteristics, history, and production process of Tengu Joshi paper, a traditional craft of Kochi prefecture.
English subtitles is also included for English-speakers.

Japanese paper is a traditional culture of Japan.
The process of making a single sheet of paper is filled with various considerations, from the selection of raw materials to the manufacturing process.
Tengu Joshi paper made in Kochi prefecture is one of many Japanese papers.

We hope that you'll take this video and article as an opportunity to learn about Japanese culture.

A Closer Look at Japanese Paper

As you can see at 0:45 in the video, many people are involved in the making of Tengu Joshi paper.

In this video, Mr. Hiroyoshi Chinzai, the president of Hidaka Washi Yugen Co., Ltd, explains about Tengu Joshi.
In the video, he says he has a sense of responsibility for manufacturing and is challenging things that no one has before.

What is Tengu Joshi Paper?

Tengu Joshi paper is a special Japanese paper made by Hidaka Washi Co., Ltd. in Kochi Prefecture.
The diameter of the raw material, mulberry fiber, is 0.002 mm.
It is the thinnest Japanese paper in the world.
Tengu Joshi paper weighs 1.6 grams per square meter.
A sheet of this amazing paper, at about half the size of a tatami mat, is lighter than two one-yen coins.

The Roots of Tengu Joshi Paper

The knowledge required for the production of Tengu Joshi paper has been passed down from generation to generation, and continues to this day.
It is said that the roots of Tengu Joshi paper is not based in Tosa, but in "Usumino" produced in Mino (present-day Gifu prefecture) around the 17th century.

Tengu Joshi paper was created in the middle of the Meiji era (1868-1912).
At that time, Kochi Prefecture had the production capacity to export wrapping paper, coffee filter paper, typewriter paper to Europe and the United States.
In response to the need for rolled products, Hidaka Washi Co., Ltd. began to focus on mechanization and OEM production.

The Process of Making Tengu Joshi Paper

First, "kozo," a type of hybrid mulberry, is purchased from farmers.
The mulberry is then boiled to break it into fine fibers.
The crushed mulberry is then mixed with water and kneaded to make a sheet.

The resulting paper, made up of long fibers is highly transparent, strong, and supple.

What is Tengu Joshi Paper Used For?

Image of Tokyo National Museum
Photo:Tokyo National Museum

You might be wondering where Tengu Joshi paper is used. As it turns out, Tengu Joshi paper is used in various places.
The National Archives of Japan, the Tokyo National Museum, and the British Museum are just a few examples.
The paper is used to repair and protect deteriorated exhibits.

The uses of Tengu Joshi Paper are expanding not only in Japan, but also overseas in places such as the United Kingdom.
One could say that the paper is a technology recognized around the world.

According to Mr. Chinzai Hiroshi, inquiries come from all over the world asking for Japanese paper that to restore exhibits, etc.
In order to meet these needs, Tengu Joshi paper has been filled with innovations, such as using only natural fibers and dyeing the paper in colors suited to the object to be restored, during the raw material stage.

Tengu Joshi Paper and Other Information

Hidaka Washi Co., Ltd. doesn't just produce Tengujo paper either. They also provide thorough aftercare after delivery.
One of the reasons why the world trusts them is that they carefully explain how to use their products.

Tengu Joshi paper is also sold online, so if you're interested in getting some, considering checking it out.

Tengu Joshi Paper Introduction Summary

Hidaka Washi Co., Ltd., founded in 1949, thoroughly selects the raw materials when making Tengu Joshi Paper.
The completed Tengu Joshi paper is useful for national libraries and museums. In fact, you've probably seen it before and just didn't know.

As you can see in the video, the world of Japanese paper is deeper than you'd guess.
It will be interesting to see what kind of activities Hidaka Washi Co., Ltd., a company that specializes in the production of Japanese paper, will do in the future.

【Official Website】Hidaka Washi Co., Ltd.

Written By
Last Updated : Sep. 15, 2020
有田 和義(Kazuyoshi Arita)
A 40-something writer who loves entertainment
How the World's Thinnest Paper,
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