Japanese Paper Washi and Chiyogami

Originally the term Washi referred to Japanese handmade paper produced in a traditional manner but as technology continues to take over more Washi is machine produced. The term Washi translates to Japanese paper (wa=Japanese shi=paper). Kozo, mitsumata, and gampi are the three basic fibers most commonly used in the Washi making process.

Papermaking was first brought to Japan by Buddhist monks but Japan quickly became the leading producer of paper. Traditionally the Washi making process was undertaken by farmers as a seasonal task and Kozo, mitsumata, and gampi crops were planted along with their regular crops. The farmers would process the crops into paper during the months when it was to cold for them to work outside.

The word Chiyogami comes from the roots chiyo (thousand generation) and gami (paper). Chiyogami is Washi paper that has been hand stenciled or printed with traditional Japanese imagery using bright colors and patterns. Appearing during the Edo period, Chiyogami was traditionally used to craft paper object especially dolls. It gained tremendous popularity among origami fans because it offered a great visual presences and was less costly then some of the other Washi papers at the time. It still remains a favorite among folders and adds a richness to any paper craft project.