Concept

Washi

Summary
Washi is traditional Japanese paper. The term is used to describe paper that uses local fiber, processed by hand and made in the traditional manner. Washi is made using fibers from the inner bark of the gampi tree, the mitsumata shrub (Edgeworthia chrysantha), or the paper mulberry (kōzo) bush. As a Japanese craft, it is registered as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. Washi is generally tougher than ordinary paper made from wood pulp, and is used in many traditional arts. Origami, shodō, and ukiyo-e were all produced using washi. Washi was also used to make various everyday goods like clothes, household goods, and toys, as well as vestments and ritual objects for Shinto priests and statues of Buddha. It was even used to make wreaths that were given to winners in the 1998 Winter Paralympics. Washi is also used to repair historically valuable cultural properties, paintings, and books at museums and libraries around the world, such as the Louvre and the Vatican Museums, because of its thinness, pliability, durability over 1000 years because of its low impurities, and high workability to remove it cleanly with moisture. By the 7th century, paper had been introduced to Japan from China via the Korean Peninsula, and the Japanese developed washi by improving the method of making paper in the Heian period. The paper making technique developed in Japan around 805 to 809 was called nagashi-suki (流し漉き), a method of adding mucilage to the process of the conventional tame-suki (溜め漉き) technique to form a stronger layer of paper fibers. The improved washi came to be used to decorate religious ceremonies such as gohei, ōnusa (:ja:大麻 (神道)) , and shide at Shinto shrines, and in the Heian period, washi covered with gold and silver leaf beautifully decorated books such as Kokin Wakashu. In the Muromachi period, washi came to be used as ceremonial origami for samurai class at weddings and when giving gifts, and from the Sengoku period to the Edo period, recreational origami such as orizuru developed.
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