Washi paper is a general term for a unique type of paper developed in Japan. Originally, it was made by hand using raw materials such as "Kozo (paper mulberry)", "Mitsumata", and "Gampi", all of which are native to Japan.
Today, most of the paper produced in Japan is Western paper, which is made mainly from wood using methods imported from the West. In contrast to Western paper, paper made from traditional materials and using traditional manufacturing methods is called washi paper.
Washi paper is made from natural plant fibers, and because the fibers are intertwined by the process of making the paper, it is strong and has excellent preservation properties.
Washi paper has the following characteristics: it develops its own flavor over time through long and careful use, it smoothly fits in the hand, and it has different textures depending on the region where it is produced. It is attracting attention from around the world, and its use is expanding recently as an environmentally friendly material.
In 2014, Japanese handmade washi paper was registered as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Although the amount of production is decreasing year by year due to the aging of craftsmen, lack of successors, and a decrease in the number of farmers cultivating the raw materials, it will continue to be a valuable traditional craft in the future. On the other hand, more and more washi paper used for packaging and printing is being made by machines.
There are high expectations for the development of washi paper in response to the changing times and consumer needs.