Engaging with the process of how things are made can transform our relationship with items we use daily, encouraging a deeper appreciation for things we would otherwise take for granted. An old village making washi, its history of paper-making going back some 1200 years ago, re-acquaints us with the pleasure of this tactile, everyday object.
Washi, or Japanese paper, is made using tree fibers combined with botanical liquids. Depending on the region, various trees can be used for washi such as mulberry, abaca, softwood, and more. It's processed by hand through techniques developed by the Japanese over a thousand years ago and requires sophisticated artisanal skills.
Apart from its beauty, washi's distinctive quality is that it is extremely durable. Unlike its mass-produced counterpart that can tear apart easily, washi is so strong that its function permeates most areas of Japanese life taking it beyond its common use for writing. It's used in shoji screens, parasols, lamps, blotting paper for cooking, and more.
No two pieces of washi are the same despite it being produced throughout Japan. Handmade washi is an accurate representation of its provenance because of the nuances that a particular region's nature, climate, culture, and human care can create. Each piece is a manifestation of the individual artisan's process, its beauty and origin captured as if in a snapshot frozen in time.
When was the last time you truly paid attention to the items you use daily? When we bring our attention to it, we reconnect with our senses and re-educate ourselves on the decision-making around each object — the ingredients, the energy and intention behind its creation — and the sensory impact it has on our lives.