Tuesday, October 30, 2012

HAIBARA #03 - HAIBARA Washi Store in Nihonbashi.

In this third post on an exclusive washi dealer HAIBARA with over 200 years of history, I would like to feature their existing store in Nihonbashi, Tokyo that is filled with some of the finest washi papers you can find and all the beautiful paper goods and crafted items of Japanese washi paper.

The HAIBARA store is currently run at a temporary space as there has been a huge development going on in Nihonbashi where the original HAIBARA store building was, right next to where their temporary store is until the new store opens in 2015.

Once you walk past the Noren (Japanese fabric divider that is widely used by stores on their entrance door in Japan) and into their store, you will be amazed to see a tremendous number of envelopes, paper pockets and letter sets! Among all the wonderful washi products they carry at the HAIBARA store, what catches your eyes most would probably be the traditional ceremonial envelopes in the counter showcases and on shelves.

These envelopes called noshi envelopes are generally used for giving money as gifts on all sorts of occasions. You can see so many different mizuhiki designs which are tied around the noshi envelopes as decorations. Mizuhiki is meant to enhance the happiness of person who receives the gifts and the size of the envelopes and the grandness of the mizuhiki decoration must be carefully chosen for the amount of money that is going to go inside the envelopes. This kind of thing is sometimes difficult to understand but the knowledgeable staff at the HAIBARA store will assist you and they even do the beautiful calligraphy for you to write your names on the envelope, which can be quite embarrassing if you don't have such beautiful hand writing! 

Special wedding ceremonial items with gorgeous mizuhiki decorations.

Money envelopes for more casual occasions.

These are for mourning occasions.

  I must admit that I had never seen such amazing selection of these traditional envelopes in one place, and they have the best designs with best quality even for the ones used for more casual occasions. Simply mesmerizing!

Below are some of my favourite lovely products made with HAIBARA's original reproduction chiyogami design papers.

The HAIBARA store is well worth a visit as well as the area Nihonbashi which is full of culture and history (please see this post if you would like to know about Nihonbashi). The good thing is that the washi paper and washi products are fairly light in weight so even if you do a good amount of shopping they will be easy to carry back home in your luggage if you are traveling!

Original HAIBARA store in their beautiful building that was built around 1930.
Some of the architectural features will be brought into their new store design.
It is pretty easy to find the HAIBARA store with only a few steps from the C4 or C6 exit of the Nihonbashi station. Be sure to have plenty of time to spend there because it's a true treasure trove especially for the paper lovers like myself!!

2-8-11 Nihonbashi Chuo-ku Tokyo 103-0027 (Temporary address until 2015)
Weekday: 10AM - 6:30PM / Saturday: 10AM - 5PM / Closed on Sundays & Public holidays.
See location on Google Map

Friday, October 12, 2012

HAIBARA #02 - Washi and Chiyogami

Sample books for the washi paper they carry at HAIBARA - they have an amazing collection!

I think that many of you are pretty familiar with the word "washi" if you love paper, stationery and craft. But what actually is washi? "Wa" means Japanese and "shi" means paper, so basically washi means Japanese paper. Washi is made from long natural fibers, most commonly made from the barks of native Japanese trees such as kozo (paper mulberrry), mitsumata and gampi, and is made by hand in the traditional manner. Washi is generally stronger than machine-made paper made of wood pulp, so it has been used in various ways in the Japanese lifestyle and it has also been a very important part of the Japanese culture.

HAIBARA's gampishi
HAIBARA offers a vast selection of washi paper, but most importantly "Gampishi" has been their most popular paper ever since they started business in 1806. Gampishi is made from the fiber of gampi plant (Wikstroemia sikokiana) and is a very fine high quality paper with silk-like glossy surface which is perfect for writing. HAIBARA's gampishi greatly attracted writers and artists, and then became very popular among the common people in the Edo period.

HAIBARA's Gampishi, up close. Photo by HAIBARA.

Characteristics of washi varies just as there are many different characteristics of the plants that makes washi. You can find numbers of selected handmade washi paper from all over Japan including the finest quality gampishi at HAIBARA store, for various usages such as for writing, painting or other purposes of your needs.

Chiyogami is also HAIBARA's specialization. Chiyogami is washi paper that has been hand stenciled or printed with traditional Japanese imagery using bright colors and patterns. Chiyogami was traditionally used to craft paper object especially dolls, or for gift wrapping as well as art appreciation in the Edo period. Delicate and beautiful designs and colours are truly enchanting and you could probably spend hours looking at HAIBARA's selection of Chiyogami as well as their Washi collection.

HAIBARA's original Chiyogami design reproduction paper- simply gorgeous!

In the next post I will talk about their store in Nihonbashi, and more of their beautiful washi paper items! If you missed a brief history of HAIBARA please see a previous post.

Monday, October 1, 2012

HAIBARA #01 - A long established Washi Store in Nihonbashi, Tokyo

I would like to introduce you to one of the most exclusive Washi stores in Tokyo called HAIBARA.

HAIBARA (榛原)has been in Nihonbashi since it was established in 1806 as a retailer in washi - traditional Japanese handmade paper, consistently carrying the highest quality products and services for over 200 years.

HAIBARA offers washi in various kinds and colours as well as an extensive line of washi related products which include writing paper, envelopes, post cards, traditional paper items and beautifully crafted items for home decoration and personal use, all made with very fine washi paper.


The area where HAIBARA is located called Nihonbashi has a full of historical background of Tokyo which must be mentioned when talking about this long established store of Nihonbashi.
Nihonbashi literally means "Japan Bridge"(日本橋) and the bridge of the same name was first built here in 1603 as the official starting point of the five major highways to and from Edo (old name of Tokyo). This is how the top class craftsmen, artisans and merchants throughout Japan came to Nihonbashi and established businesses making the area the center of business and culture ever since. Today you can find numbers of historical shops around this area including HAIBARA, Nihonbashi is a town that tradition and modern coexists and it is indeed quite a charming area that is well worth visiting if you are in Tokyo.

The above image -courtesy of HAIBARA- shows the amazing atmosphere of the original HAIBARA store and its surrounding area of Nihonbashi in the Edo period.

HAIBARA became the first to export washi paper from Japan sometime around 1868 during the Meiji Restoration, and it was also the first to import western paper from Europe to Japan.
The washi paper that traveled to overseas from HAIBARA during this time is housed in Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (London), Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (Glasgow), Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris and many other museums around the world.

I will talk more about HAIBARA's exquisite washi products and their gorgeous store in the coming posts!