土佐和紙作造経験 – Tosa Paper Making Experience

I was down in Kochi with Seong the other day and while driving around we decided to stop and make Tosa Paper.  The paper made in these parts is famous across Japan and has been produced for over 1000 years.  A few minutes of research online has also informed me that the techniques and tools developed here are credited with laying the foundation of the paper industry.  Though its fame hadn’t made it to my ears, it has been designated as a cultural asset by the government and so we both figured that it was worth trying once.

After paying a small sum of money, we rolled up our sleeves and scooped a wire mesh through pulpy water.  The pulp that they use is made from the bark of a couple different plants, which after being being boiled, bleached and beaten eventually takes on the the consistency necessary to make paper.  After we sifted the water from the mesh, we removed the divider and then transferred it face down onto a drying table.

Soeng sifting and myself draining

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While it was all drying, we were free to add snips of flowers and leaves to our paper.  This was an extra 200 yen, but well worth it for the chance to display my artistic skills.  I had eight squares to work with, and I made each one different.  I worked hard to produce something respectable, but surely nothing could be done to accomplish that.  I was a little strapped for time and in the end had to just make a few hasty decisions.  Once all of them were finished, we had to apply a thin layer of pulp to seal it all inside.  This is where mine began to look even worse.  

Here is how everything looked before adding that last layer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce we were both finished they pressed and dried our pulp squares on another machine while we walked around the gift shop.  After about fifteen or twenty minutes we returned to see how they all turned out.  Most of mine looked questionable before the final pressing, but at the end there was only one, perhaps two that I would dare put my name on and give to someone.  The whole process only took an hour and wasn’t such a big deal, but definitely a nice something to say I’ve done while here.

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