【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Ozu Washi (Ehime Prefecture)~

【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Ozu Washi (Ehime Prefecture)~


Ozu Washi



【Production area of Ozu Washi】

Uchiko Town, Kita District, Seiyo City, etc. in Ehime Prefecture



【What is Ozu Washi?】

Handmade Washi made in Uchiko-cho, Kita-gun, Seiyo-shi, etc. in Ehime Prefecture.

It began to be made in the Heian period, but it was not until the Edo period that it became the current Ozu Washi.

There was a temporary crisis that the number of craftsmen would decrease and that Ozu Washi itself would disappear.

Overcoming the difficulties, it now has a solid position as a high-class Washi.


In October 1977, it was designated as a traditional craft.



【Features of Ozu Washi】

The feature is that it is made from the following raw materials.






・Tororo Aoi



Ozu Washi is best known for calligraphy paper.

Because of its thin thickness and little wavy unevenness, it has become popular with calligraphers all over Japan as calligraphy paper.

After about 3 years, it becomes “withered paper” with moisture removed due to drying.

The brush strokes are better than usual, and the color of the ink is improved, so the unique flavor of Ozu Washi appears.


In addition, shoji paper is often used in Japanese-style rooms in temples and houses as a high-grade Washi.



【History of Ozu Washi】

The exact origin is unknown, but it is believed that it was already made in the Heian period, as it is described in the legal code “Engishiki”.

According to Kami-suki Juho-ki, a manual on papermaking, Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, a famous poet, invented the paper-making technique in Iwami Province.

And it seems that the technique was transmitted to Ozu.


It is said that around 1688 to 1704, it became the current Ozu Washi.

As a result of inviting a monk named Sosho Zenjomon to teach paper-making techniques, the industry flourished within the clan.

The best proof is that it is praised in a book from the Edo period as “the power of Ozu paper is unrivaled in the world”.


At its peak in 1910, the number of traders was 430, but after World War II, the number fell to 74.

Since then it has continued to decline and continues to the present day.

However, the craftsmen who took pride in the handicraft of Ozu Washi kept the technique to the end.

Thanks to their efforts, the tradition is still firmly inherited.



【Production process of Ozu Washi】

①Simmering of raw materials

This is the work of softening paper kozo, mitsumata, and gampi, which are the raw materials of Washi, to a level that can be processed.

The raw material is soaked in water for several days to soften it.

After that, add soda ash and so on, and then put the pot on fire and let it simmer.

By simmering, it prevents unnecessary things from being mixed in, and the fibers become easy to loosen.


②Removing lye and bleaching


Rinse with water to remove contaminants that have fallen off during boiling.

After that, they are placed in a tank and exposed to sunlight for about a week to remove the scum.

After removing lye is complete, the ingredients, water, and bleaching solution (made by reacting a suspension of calcium hydroxide and chlorine gas) are mixed together, spread out, and bleached.

Unbleached washi paper is a brown color.



After bleaching, wash with water to remove the chemicals attached to the raw materials.

Chemicals can cause deterioration of Washi, so it must be done carefully.

After removing the dust after washing with water, it is beaten to loosen the fibers.

Beating is not done by hand, but by a special machine called a beating machine.




First, the raw materials, nori (made from tororoaoi), and water are placed in a sukibune, mixed well, and the paper is scraped.


There are two main ways to make paper: nagashi-suki and tame-suki.

Ozu Washi is made with nagashisuki, but nagashisuki is also commonly used.

Nagasuki is a method of scooping up the paper stock liquid and shaking it vertically and horizontally to intertwine the fibers.

When the thickness of the Washi becomes uniform, the sudare is removed from the girders, and the resulting paper is carefully layered.


In addition, tamesuki is a method of squeezing paper stock liquid on top of the girder, waiting for the water to fall to the bottom.



The finished paper is left to rest overnight, and then a press is used to remove the moisture.

The length of time for squeezing is determined by the type of paper, such as 3 hours for shoji paper and 24 hours for calligraphy paper.


Depending on the method of pressing, the shape of the paperi will be deformed, so it must be done slowly and carefully.




The two most common methods are drying in the sun on a drying board and using a drying room, but Ozu Washi uses the latter method.

Carefully attach each piece to a stainless steel plate, and use a brush to smooth it out so that it does not get wrinkled.

When the paper is dry, gently peel it off.

When the space becomes empty, the paper is stretched again, and so on, and the work is completed when all the paper is dry.


⑦Sorting and cutting

The craftsmen check one sheet at a time, checking whether the thickness of the paper is even, whether there are any unevenness, whether there are any torn spots, and whether there is dust on the paper.

If there is no problem, cut it to the size that fits the product and the Ozu Washi is completed.


In some parts of the process, unnecessary things and garbage are removed.

The quality of Washi is the best in Japan thanks to the meticulous checks performed by craftsmen.





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