Wonders of WashiTesuki Washi Tanino makes ultrarefined paper with an amber sheenThe third UNESCO-commended type of washi paper is Hosokawa-shi, made in Saitama Prefecture.
It takes its name from a high-grade paper called Hosokawa hosho, developed during the Edo Period (1603-1868) and employed for such things as record- and account-keeping as well as for covering fusuma sliding doors. The Hosokawa-shi that was once so necessary to the lives of common people is now used to make art prints and to preserve and restore cultural properties.
Hiroko Tanino was past her 30th birthday when she became fascinated with Japanese paper and began her training. In 1999, she opened Tesuki Washi Tanino and, in 2010, was certified as a Saitama Prefectural Traditional Craftsperson.
“As someone recognized by the prefecture for the manufacture of a traditional craft,” says Tanino, “I want to work on developing future artisans, passing down the traditions to generations to come.”
Two characteristics of Hosokawa-shi are its resilient strength and its light-brown sheen, achieved by retaining some of the midlayer bark of the kōzo (mulberry).
Also incorporated is fiber from the sunset hibiscus (Abelmoschus manihot), which gives the paper pulp its viscosity; only locally grown plants are used.
Iwakichi Kurosawa, a member of the Ogawa Hibiscus Production Union, says proudly, “Because these plants are susceptible to the heat and cold, they are time-consuming to grow. But since they’re an indispensable part of the process for Hosokawa-shi, it’s important to grow them here in Ogawa.” Currently, 18 farms produce this hibiscus; the yield was approximately 7,000 kilograms in autumn of 2014. This stable supply of hibiscus supports the future of Hosokawa-shi.