Inshū Washi Paper- Saji District

Tottori Prefectural Government

Celebrated home of Inshu washi calligraphy paper

The history of Saji
Saji is located in the mountainous region of southeastern Tottori prefecture. The Saji-gawa river runs through the district. While agriculture is considered the main industry, smaller industries like washi production, sericulture, and forestry have also flourished. Although the history of Inshu washi in the area is incomplete, a historical document with the seal of Inaba province has been found the Soshoin repository dating from the Eighth century. Futhermore, the medieval record called the Engishiki (complied between 905 and 927) indicates that paper from the Inaba province was presented to the imperial court. These references suggest that the history of Ishu washi of the area is over 1200 years old. 
The history of Inshu washi
The Meiji period (1868-1912) saw the prefectural administration turn to the cultivation of paperbush for the production of washi paper. Modern bleaching techniques, along with mechanical production, were also introduced at this time, culminating in a rise in production and increase of factories (to about 1300 from only 500 during the previous Edo period). This trend continued until the end of the Taisho period (1912-1926).
Inshū washi today
After World War II, the proliferation of office machines and rapid changes in lifestyle dealt a devastating blow to washi paper production and products such as thin office note paper and shoji (sliding door) paper. To counter this decline, Inshu washi production shifted its focus to specialty calligraphy, craft, and dyed papers, all of which have remained popular until today with washi aficionados and calligraphers.
"Inshū paper, keeping brushstrokes smooth."
Such is the expression synonymously used to describe the quality of Inshū paper, which has been used for brush calligraphy writing and painting because it allows smooth brushstrokes and subsequently long brush life.
Monument to paper making
The Saji Paper Ancestry Monument was erected to memorialize those craftsmen and artisans involved in the long history  of Inshu washi paper production in Saji. The Saji Paper Ancestry Monument Festival is held annually every November, and includes traditional Shinto rituals and ceremonies.
The making of Inshū washi
Pulp preparation for Inshu washi paper production in Saji is fundamentally the same as handmade papermaking. Although in Saji, the creation of the paper has now been streamlined with a mechanical process that reduces the need for skilled manual labor required during the handmade process, making mass production possible. 
Pulp preparation: kōkai (beating) and dakai (hitting)
Fibers from paperbush, mulberry, and gampi are carefully processed to minimize damage to the pulp making it optimal for washi papermaking. Beating and hitting machines are used to process the fibers to refine them. Once the pulp is adequately processed, the fibers will interweave with one another when the water is remove to reinforce and strengthen the paper.
Inshu washi produced in Saji is created with a streamlined, mechanical process, where the water solution containing the dissolved fibers is poured through the wooden frame with woven reed screen, or "sugeta," where the fibers are evenly distributed by moving the frame side to side.
secondary processing, and finishing
Newly created paper contains a lot of water and it must be slowly dried overnight, after which it is then pressed on remove excess water. Once the excess water is removed, the paper is laid out with a brush over a heated stainless steel or iron plate to complete the drying process. 
Standardized products: Calligraphy gasenshi paper
Inshu washi made in Saji is produced using an optimal mix of fibers from mulberry, paperbush, gampi, straw, cogongrass, bamboo, and wood. The calligraphy paper is created to showcase the varied richness of the ink through techniques of shading, bleeding, and blending. In addition, a wide range of paper types and grades are produced depending on a variety of specific usages. For example, specialized papers are created for ink painting and traditional Japanese painting, or "Nihonga."  
Calligraphy: ink shading and blending
Inshu washi made in Saji is produced using an optimal mix of fibers from mulberry, paperbush, gampi, straw, cogongrass, bamboo, and wood. The calligraphy paper is created to showcase the varied richness of the ink through techniques of shading, bleeding, and blending.
Kamingusaji papermaking workshop
The Kamingusaji is a public papermaking workshop located in Saji town that was established to preserve the art and tradition of Inshu washi papermaking. Various paper products are produced and showcased at the facility, including calligraphy paper, envelops, and colorful dyed-paper for making torn paper pictures, or "chigiri-e." These products are available for sale at a discounted price, and there is a cafeteria serving local delicacies. There are also a variety of hands-on activities, which provide visitors the chance to make their own washi paper to create original uchiwa fans.
Tottori Prefectural Government
Credits: Story

Information & images provided by:
Tottori Prefecture
Kamingusaji Co. Ltd.

Supported by:
Tottori-ken Inshū washi kyōdōkumiai;
Kamingusaji Co. Ltd.

Directed by:
Tottori Prefecture & Kyoto Women's University Lifestyle Design Laboratory

Text by:
Tottori Prefecture

Photo by:
Maezaki Shinya, Associate Professor, Kyoto Women's University
Takayama Kengo, A-PROJECTS

Movie by:
Takayama Kengo, A-PROJECTS

English Translation by:
Eddy Y. L. Chang

Edit by:
Laura J. Mueller

This exhibition is created by:
Watanabe Aoi & Taoka Yuri, Kyoto Women's University Lifestyle Design Laboratory

This exhibition is provided by:
Tottori Prefectural Govenment

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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