Yame Handmade Japanese Paper
Yame handmade Japanese paper beloved by countless artists, including woodblock printer Shiko Munakata. Known for both strength and elegance.
◇The origin of Yame handmade Japanese paper
Yame handmade Japanese paper is said to have begun when Saint Nichigen, then a priest of the School of Nichiren, visited the region during his pilgrimage around Japan. Saint Nichigen considered the Yame region ideal for producing paper, with the clear waters of the Yabe River and natively-growing washi materials, Kozo (hybrid mulberry tree) and Mitsumata (oriental paperbush). In 1595, he introduced paper techniques from Echizen province (present day Fukui Prefecture).
◇Long-ﬁbered Kozo unique to the Yame region
Kozo serves as the raw material for producing Yame handmade Japanese paper. Growing in the mild Kyushu climate, the Kozo has long fibers that give the paper durability. Part of the Moraceae family of plants, Kozo grows rapidly, reaching around 3 m in one year. Although Kozo is native to the Yame region and has long been harvested locally, nowadays Kozo produced in nearby Yamaga, Kumamoto Prefecture, is brought in for the production of Japanese paper. In Yame, Kozo is also known as ‘Kago’.
◇Washi, beloved by artists
Yame handmade Japanese paper is beloved by many artists for its strength, elegance and pliability compared to paper produced in other regions. One such artist was woodblock printer Shiko Munakata (1903-1975). It continues to be used in a broad range of fields, including book binding, for which it is highly regarded.