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The home of Echizen washi in Echizen City, Fukui Prefecture is the Goka area, a cluster of five small villages––Oizu, Ōtaki, Iwamoto, Shinzaike, and Sadatomo––blessed with abundant spring water and surrounded by mountains. This area of Echizen was developed early: to the west lies the Takefu Basin, home of the old provincial government and to the south over the mountain one sees Ajimano, an old kofun grave mound site. An old legend tells of the ancestral deity of paper. At the time when the future Emperor Keitai was in the Echizen area, a beautiful princess appeared in the upper reaches of the Okamoto river. “With no space for growing rice in this narrow valley, life must be hard. Yet you are blessed with clean, clear water, so you should make paper.” And she took off her outer robe, hung up a bamboo pole, and taught them the art of papermaking. When the villagers asked for her name, answering simply that she lived up the Okamoto river, she vanished. Since then, the villagers have worshiped the “Upper River” goddess, Kawakami Gozen, as the ancestral deity of paper. Based on the its long-distinguished history, in 1923 the Papermaking Section of the National Printing Bureau in the Ministry of Finance has honored the papermaking goddess and she has become the guardian of the paper production for all Japan.

Details

  • Title: The Shrine Okamoto Ōtaki Jinja, Echizen Washi
  • Subject Keywords: Fukui Prefecture
  • Rights: © The Paper and Culture Museum

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