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.

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