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Washi (和紙) or Wagami is a type of paper made in Japan. Washi is commonly made using fibers from ganpi plant, mitsumata plant, or paper mulberry but also can be made using bamboo, hemp, rice, and wheat.

Washi is generally tougher than paper made from wood pulp and it is used in many traditional arts. Origami, Shodo, Ukiyoe were all produced using washi. Washi was also used to make various everyday goods like clothes, interior goods, and toys as well as a sacred cloth of Shinto priest, a statue of Buddha, and a wreath for winners in 1998 Winter Paralympics.

Making of washi
In general the process needed to make washi is similar to that of paper, but fewer chemicals are used to make it. Washi making is a long and tortuorous process often in the cold weather of winter.

Until early 20th century, washi was used in every applications where wood pulp paper can be used and on many applications where other materials could be used instead. This is not entirely because it was cheaper, but unique characteristics of washi made it a better material than others. This is only a partial list as washi can be used for any purpose:

Types of washi

With enough processes, almost any grass or tree can be made into a washi. Ganpi plant, Mitsumata plant, and Paper Mulberry are three popular materials used to make washi.

  • Ganpishi (雁皮紙) - In the ancient time, it was called Hishi (斐紙). Ganpishi has a smooth, shiny surface and is used for books and crafts.
  • Kozogami (楮紙) - Kozogami is made from paper mulberry and it is the most widely made type of washi. It has a toughness closer to a cloth than a paper and does not weaken significantly when treated to be water resistant.
  • Mitsumatagami (三椏紙) - Mitsumatagami has an ivory colored, fine surface and is used for shodo as well as printing. It was used to print paper money in Meiji period.

See also : List of Washi

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