Film by Takashi Kuroyanagi – Handmade Japanese Paper of Kurotani Kyoto


Videos seem to crop up here quite randomly, usually they’re inspired by a particular subject that I’ve been following or studying. One that I’ve recently took a liking to is the art of paper making, and I thought this short film below gave a nice insight in to the making process of washi paper.

Takashi Kuroyanagi has visited many workshops in and around Kyoto to record the expressions and techniques of the various craftsmen based there. In total he has photographed and filmed approximately 18 workshops and this is one of the videos that came from the project. The subject is Kurotani, a paper making town near Kyoto. As you can see here they beat the bark of the Kozo tree to separate the strands in to small fibres, these are then placed in a large tub full of water which makes it possible to fully separate the fibres. The artisan can tilt a bamboo frame from front to back to evenly distribute the fibres across the screen. The paper is then left to rest, squeezed using a press over a number of days, and is finally left to be dried in the sun.

I like the fact that washi uses natural ingredients, and that each piece is one of a kind and relies on the skills of the maker. But you also have to take in to consideration the gentle and soft appearance of the paper, alongside the beauty of light that shines through. Obviously with the decline of traditional crafts in Japan it’s great to see Takashi trying to preserve these century old techniques in video format, maybe this will inspire the younger generation to participate and make it their life’s work. Enjoy.