Monday, April 30, 2012

Paper making

Tetsu is very pro-blog. He seems to think that I am letting Takumi and Leiya know that we are fine and healthy and having a good time. I don't know. I don't think Takumi visits my blog much at all. Leiya may get a taste of home on her weekly visits.

And Tetsu is constantly suggesting places that my camera might capture (even before I bought the new camera), especially since the car has GPS now and we don't get lost as much as before. My blog started out as a record of my quilting and patchwork but recently seems to be a tourist log...

Saturday we went out for another day of sites. Tetsu had found an article in the newspaper lauding an interesting area near us and so we started for that part of the prefecture. One of places we came upon was a paper making center. The area had once been famous for it's Japanese paper called "washi" which is made of natural fibers and is all hand made. Just getting out of the car, the smokey aroma of the outdoor fire and kettle called to us.

Washi is made from the bark of a special tree and there were cut branches in piles around the center. The branches are steamed and then the bark is stripped from the branches leaving a white inner bark. After a lot of pounding and purifying and mixing the pulp is combined with natural glues and then drained through bamboo mats to make a layer of paper. ONE SHEET AT A TIME!

We were invited into the paper making part of the center where a couple of paper makers were busy at work.

Hey! A foreigner paper maker! After a bit of chatting we realized that we knew a lot of the same people in the nearby towns. (Long-term foreigners keep tabs on each other out in the country parts of Japan.)

I got detailed instruction in paper making in English. The woman working at one of the vats is from Australia and has lived in the area over 20 years. She said she has come to the center every Saturday for the past 4 years just because she is interested in printing and paper making. What started out as a hobby has turned into a vital part of her life and she is quite proud that recently simple paper orders are given to her. She was making post cards this day which entails a simpler process than the large sheets of paper that the man was crafting.

If you are interested, I found an interesting link about paper making (where I found these lovely "woodblock" images.)

I have more pictures from this day of other places we visited but I'll leave those for tomorrow's post (and the day after tomorrow and on and on and on. I can't keep up with all the pictures I'm taking.) Takumi and Leiya, as you can see, your parents are keeping busy.

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