Kokontozai: KASHIYUKA’s Shop of Japanese Arts and Crafts / [Indigo Dyed Japanese Paper] | カーサ ブルータス Casa BRUTUS

Kokontozai: KASHIYUKA’s Shop of Japanese Arts and Crafts / [Indigo Dyed Japanese Paper]

Something that adds a touch of luxury to the everyday, that carries the air of Japan about it. A thing that beckons you to use it. Shopkeeper KASHIYUKA set out across Japan to find such handiworks. Her third purchasing quest took her to an Awa washi paper producing area in Tokushima prefecture. There she found a handcrafted Japanese paper fan dyed with natural indigo.

Our proprietor and curator, KASHIYUKA, visits Awagami Factory, where sturdy, beautiful Awa Washi handcrafted paper is made. She observed paper being made by hand and interviewed the artisans in the process. She was delighted to learn that local primary school students’ hands-on experience led to their making the paper for their own diplomas!
The desire for encounters with beautiful traditional handcrafts is what moved me to establish this shop. Lately I’m intrigued by handcrafted work that keeps faith with traditional techniques while fostering free expression and ingenuity. The ongoing urge to “do things one better” in making fine crafts is what excites me.
Purchase No. 3 [Indigo Dyed Japanese Paper] A traditional handcrafted paper fan dyed with natural indigo, its gradations of blue stunning to behold.
Tokushima Prefecture, once known as Awa, has flourished from Japan’s late 1800s Edo era on the strength of its production of traditional paper and indigo. I visited one of its remaining Awa-style handcrafted paper producers, Awagami Factory. The company manufactures stationery and other goods from handmade paper it both produces, using traditional materials like kozo (Broussonetia kazinoki / papyrifera) and mitsumata (Edgeworthia chrysantha), and dyes. Of all, what truly captured my heart was the Aizome washi, handmade paper dyed with natural indigo. We’re surrounded by many blues, but the blue of natural indigo dye has a special quality, a softness, and a warmth that draws one into it.

First, I studied the working method of dye master Ms. Mieko Fujimori. The main component of her dye is sukumo, fermented indigo leaves, and she starts by immersing the paper in a solution of it. The paper, hanging from ropes, bathes slowly in the liquid. When she gently lifts it out, it appears not the color we associate with indigo, but light brown. It’s only when the material is exposed to air for some time that the indigo color begins to develop. As the organic residue that remains on the surface was showered away I became transfixed by the vivid yet gentle blue that burst before my eyes! When Ms. Fujimori voices her opinion, saying, “what indigo’s color can do, it’s a wonderful thing…” I can hear the deep affection she holds for it. I, too, felt that affection.
Awa washi paper is made from a naturally-occurring hybrid mulberry called kozo , that is fed by groundwater from a tributary of the famed Yoshino River. A skilled artisan employs the traditional Nagashi suki (circulating water) method of making paper.
Awa washi paper is made from a naturally-occurring hybrid mulberry called <i>kozo</i> , that is fed by groundwater from a tributary of the famed Yoshino River. A skilled artisan employs the traditional <i>Nagashi suki</i>  (circulating water) method of making paper.