The history of Washi, Japanese handmade paper
The art of paper making has been practiced since the Heian period in Japan. Washi, handmade Japanese paper, was called ‘Michinoku-gami’ in the Tohoku region. Shiroishi washi is produced in Shiroishi city in Miyagi Prefecture of Japan. It has been a specialty product of Shiroishi since the Edo period. Mulberry production, papermaking and processing prospered as an industry in Shiroishi, and was actively produced until the Meiji period. There used to be 300 paper making workshops in Shioiri but currently there are none today and it is manufactured only by a group of about 10 local people who want to preserve the paper making tradition.
The raw material is Kozo. There are two types of trees called Kozo in Japan: Paper Mulberry and Kajinoki. Its long soft fibers give strength and durability to paper. It is also used for kamiko (paper cloth). Since 1973, Shiroishi washi has been used for the creating of for the garments worn by the monks in Shuni-e (Omizutori) at Todaiji Temple.
What I do using Kamiko.
We, as the Women’s Collective of licensed kimono makers in Tohoku, create Shiroishi garments using traditional methods.