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Traditional washi used in lighting, architecture

Email|Print| Text size + By Bonnie Tsui
Globe Correspondent / September 10, 2006

NIIGATA, Japan -- In this prefecture on the western coast of Honshu Island, the custom of traditional Japanese papermaking chiefly from the inner barks of three native plants lives on at Echigo Kadode Washi.

There are only about 300 washi artisans remaining in Japan, and owner Yasuo Kobayashi, the fifth in his family to make washi , is nationally famous. Visitors can come to the studio and observe the paper being handcrafted into delicate stationery , translucent screens, lanterns, and washi kimonos that can be worn -- and even washed.

Since the fibers in washi are left long and pounded rather than cut, the paper is deceptively strong and ideal for arts like bookbinding, printmaking, and lighting. Kobayashi, the master craftsman, also creates special washi that is used by local architects in building features such as floors, walls, beams, and pillars, lending them a uniquely light, airy feel.

Echigo Kadode Washi, 945-1513 Kadode, Takayanagi-cho, Niigata, Japan, 2-851. 011-81-0257-41-2361. E-mail: k-washi@kisnet.or.jp.

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