Wishy Washi

Posted by on Nov 15, 2011 in Kochi, Travel Volunteer Journey | 3 Comments
Wishy Washi

Paper making first arrived in Japan hundreds of years ago. It wasn’t theirs when it arrived, but like so many things, it was distinctly Japanese by the time it was being exported. The heavy, stiff paper, known as washi (literally meaning “Japanese paper”) was used for everything from armour to Shinto garbs to origami. Today it’s popular around the world for its organic feel: the imperfections and natural patterns are what make it so desirable, either for practical use or simple decoration. It’s also notoriously expensive, at least in the UK.

This morning in Kochi, we had a chance to visit two separate washi-makers. They’re well at home here – Kochi uses more varieties of pulp than any other prefecture in the country. The traditional method we were allowed to try was formerly used to produce Japan’s money.

Sadly, with the printing press for cash long disassembled, we were invited to roll up our sleeves and have a go at making some post cards…

Making Washi (Japanese Paper) from Travel Volunteer on Vimeo.

The finished products:

Our time in Kochi prefecture was made possible by:

Toshihiro Tsuneishi and Shigeo Konishi from the Kochi Prefectural Government for extending such warm hospitality to us over two days. They got their tactics spot on: giving us plenty to write about, but also enough free time that we could catch our breath. On top of that, they gave up their own time to make us feel welcome, and even secured us a spot to join in with the celebrations for the life of local hero Sakamoto Ryoma. Perhaps best of all, though, they introduced us to the world of Tataki, Kochi’s stunning speciality food. Some say it’s the best local food in all of Japan. We are now part of that number.

Our friend and guide Fumiko Sakamoto who altered our schedule to meet our wants (ice cream) and needs (the occasional hour off) to get the most out of our time in the prefecture. Her sense of humour and energy really helped to make our time pass all the smoother. Taking time out of the day to simply sit by a river with an ice cream was a superb idea, though the less said about her stone-skimming abilities, the better! Heres her Washi making efforts (pictured left).

The Orient Hotel in the middle of Kochi city for putting us up for two days, giving us the opportunity to indulge in that rarest of travel volunteer activities: some unpacking. The kaiseki dining in their downstairs restaurant was fantastic, as was the sprawling breakfast which thankfully had plenty of other things on offer, aside their huge bowl of pungent natto.









  1. Yoshiko Nagano
    November 16, 2011

    I’m happy to watch your wonderful video! and Katy’s smile!!

  2. Shigeo Konishi
    November 16, 2011


    I appreciate your visit to Kochi “Naturally stress free” on behalf of Kochi Prefectural Government.
    In addition, thank you very much for your wonderful report about Kochi.
    I hope you will have safe trip and meet a lot of discovery in Japan.
    Please keep in touch with Kochi.

    Talk to latter!

  3. fc_desu!
    January 27, 2012

    Great photos and write-up on the Washi. From an artistic perspective, Washi is very unique since it looks so good *before* you write or draw on it!

    By the way you were right – Kochi’s Katsuo Tataki is hands down the best local delicacy in Japan!

    Happy trails~