SPIRIT OF JAPAN
Echizen Washi: A 1500-year tradition of papermaking
Aired: June 15, 2018
Imadate in Echizen, western Japan, is the largest producer of Echizen Washi paper in the country. The art of washi-making is said to be 1,500 years old, having been handed down from the ancestral deity, goddess Kawakami Gozen.
In Imadate today, two artisans are turning heads. One, Naho Murata, has been making washi by hand for 20 years after taking up the craft to try making clothing with it. The other is the fourth in a line of handcrafted washi makers, Makiko Iwano. She has inherited the traditional “uchigumo” marbled cloud design from her late father, who had devoted his life to it.
Handcrafting washi takes a deft, but sure hand, and the determination of these two artisans comes into its own. We explore the future of Echizen Washi through the lens of two women driving it forward.
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