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  • Writer's pictureDon Woodward


Updated: Mar 21, 2020

In making a decision regarding the the type of paper I want to use for my Kanji Calligraphy, I have found a source for Nishinouchi paper. This is known as one of the finest, handmade Washi - Japanese traditional papers. All my works from now on, will be drawn on this paper.

Handmade Nishinouchi Seiki B Nakaban Japanese Kozo Fiber Paper, has the following characteristics:

• Made in Kurotani, the oldest continuous paper-making village in Japan where they have been making paper for over 800 years.

• Kurotaniwashi (paper made in Kurotani) is made from Paper Mulberry (broussonetia papyrefera), a kind of tree that is called kouzo in Japanese. It grows to a height of over 3 meters. The first step is to harvest the wood. They cut down the tree without leaves in the winter. Next, they put the wood in a big barrel and steam it in a furnace for 3 hours. The part of the process is called kagomushi in Japanese. “Kago” means basket, and “Mushi” means steam in English. After that, the craftsman starts de-barking the trees, a process called kagohegi in Japanese. Hegi means ‘bark’ or ‘peel’ in English, and is a kind of local dialect. The craftsman removes the bark to expose the white tree bark inside and they cook it with alkali water for an hour. After that, put the kouzo in cold water to eliminate any remaining lye and soil. This stage of the process is called midashi in Japanese. After that, they smash the wood into pulp, similar to the way of making rice cakes from steamed rice. It is called dakai in Japanese. After dakai, the wood has now become a pulp of small fibers. They then mix the pulp with water and glue, then start creating sheets by pasting the pulp on a special wood board with a brush. This final stage is called kamitsuke in Japanese. Then, kurotaniwashi is made by drying with natural air.

I order individual sheets, and then try not to make a mistake when I begin a new meditation artwork. After all this effort, culture and history, one stray stroke means I have to start again, on a brand new sheet of Nishinouchi.

Learning the history certainly gives me an appreciation for the medium I am working with.

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