【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Ecchu Washi (Toyama Prefecture)~

【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Ecchu Washi (Toyama Prefecture)~


Etchu Washi



【Production area of Etchu Washi】

Yao Town, Asahi Town, and Nanto City in Toyama City



【What is Etchu Washi?】

Japanese paper made in Yao Town, Asahi Town, Nanto City, etc. in Toyama City.

The Japanese paper made in the three production areas of Gokayama, Yao, and Hirutani is collectively called Echichu paper.


In addition to making classic Japanese paper, craftsmen are actively working on developing new products such as small articles and tourist souvenirs made from Japanese paper.


In June 1988, it was designated as a traditional craft.



【Features of Etchu Washi】

Each of the three production areas has its own characteristics, which is the charm and characteristic of Etchu Washi.



The Gokayama area is a heavy snowfall area, and its strength is the ability to withstand such a natural environment.

The source of its robustness is paper mulberry, which can be harvested locally.

Paper mulberry has long fibers that intertwine with each other, so it is strong even if it is thin.

Shoji paper, paper for woodblock prints, and paper for repairing important cultural properties are mainly produced.



It uses katazome, a dyeing technique that uses pattern paper to dye patterns, and is characterized by its vivid colors and patterns.

It is highly water resistant and does not tear easily even when wet, so it was used for selling medicines in Toyama.

Patterned paper and items processed with Japanese paper are mainly produced.



It features a soft texture while being excellent in durability and toughness.

Japanese paper used for calligraphy and painting is mainly produced.



【History of Etchu Washi】

In 774, it is written that Etchu was the production area of paper in the “Zushoryo Kai” written as a document of Shosoin.

Therefore, it is highly likely that Japanese paper was already being produced at that time.

Also, in the Engishiki, a legal code completed in 927, it is recorded that Japanese paper made in Etchu was paid as tax.


Masayoshi Maeda, the second lord of the Etchu-Toyama domain, promotes the sale of medicine.

As a result, the need for Etchu Washi (Yao Washi) increased as a material for paper used to package medicines and bags for selling medicines.


In addition, Gokayama washi was used as goryogami (paper used by the feudal lord for official ceremonies) of the Kaga domain, and its name became well known.


Entering the Meiji era, mass production of western paper by machine began to appear, and the demand for washi declined at once.

However, people involved in Etchu Washi continue to pass on the traditional techniques and train successors to this day.



【Production process of Etchu Washi】

①Water soaking/snow exposure

Bleached and dried paper mulberry bark (white bark) is soaked in water for 1 to 3 days.

This process softens the white skin and allows the craftsmen to remove any dust that may have adhered to it.

In addition, kozo is exposed to snow for about 14 days in a bleaching process known as yukisarashi.



Put the white bark in a sodium hydroxide solution such as caustic soda and boil it down for about 2 hours.

It is a work to be done to dissolve the fibers of the white skin.


③Remove scum

After leaving it overnight, remove the harshness while rinsing with water.


④Bleach cleaning

This step is necessary for making white paper.

Bleach and wash with bleaching powder.


⑤Removal of dust

Soak in water to remove dust and discolored fibers in the fibers.

In order to make the finish beautiful, it is important to do it carefully by hand one by one.



It is a work that loosens the fibers while beating them.

Stickiness comes out by hitting the fiber.

It is done using a special machine called a beater, or it is done manually by a craftsman using a wooden mallet.


⑦Paper making

referring source:Keijusha Co., Ltd.


Sukibune is a rectangular water tank that holds raw materials for making paper.

What is put inside is a liquid (= paper material) that is a mixture of softened fibers, water, and glue.

Neri is a clear mucilage collected from the roots of the crushed tororo-aoi, which prevents the fibers from sticking together.


Etchu Washi is made using the traditional paper-making technique, nagashi-suki.

The paper material is put into a wooden frame called “suketa” and shaken to make the thickness uniform.

After that, the paper is piled up one by one on the board, and when the “paper bed” is completed, it is completed.



referring source:Keijusha Co., Ltd.


The prepared paper bed is left overnight.

After that, the water is squeezed out using a press.



referring source:Keijusha Co., Ltd.


After peeling off the paper one by one from the paper floor, it is pasted on the top board and dried.

There are two methods: natural drying in the sun and mechanical drying.



Each sheet is carefully checked to see if it is evenly thick and whether there are any dust or scratches.


⑪Stencil dyeing

“Stencil dyeing” is a dyeing technique that uses pattern paper to dye patterns, and is used when making patterned washi paper.

The dye penetrates deep into the fibers, so even if it gets twisted, the pattern is easy to keep clear.



In the case of shoji paper, it is completed after cutting at the end.





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