Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A Place Where They Make Paper

This is a bark steaming hut (kozo moshigoya), among one of the exhibits you can find at the open-air museum, Shikoku Mura. The hipped ridge roof is thatched with reeds. Reeds over bamboo frames are also used for its walls. There is a reason for the huts to be built with reeds. It is plentiful in the region compared to clays. Also, it provided better ventilation.

Tosa (modern day Kochi) was known as one of the best papermaking regions in Japan and this hut came from heart of the region.
The first step to making Japanese paper was to steam the outer bark from the paper mulberry (kozo). 
The bamboo barrel that you see hanging in the photo above would be lowered over a bubbling cauldron filled with mulberry branches to form an efficient steam box. Anyways, remember my post about a farm house of the Kono family? They owned a bark steamer too. Right beside their living area!

If you ask me, those bubbling cauldron looked like a torture device. Heh heh

The next step was to remove the white inner bark, pound it into a paste and float it in trays of water to form sheets of paper which were then drained and dried.
Cute photo of son (if I say so myself) for size comparison reason. hihi

Handmade Japanese paper (washi) is famous for its strength and durability. It contains no chemical and as a result it won't discolour or decompose with age. 


Way back when, Japanese merchants kept records with the washi and the accounts books can be thrown into a well in case of fire (or if you ask me, to hide precious record from being seized too) and be retrieved later without any damage. How ingenious!

I do seem to go on and on about the exhibits in Shikoku Mura, don't I? Bear with me, please.

I just feel that those exhibits are so interesting on their own that most (if not each) of them deserve a special post about them. Individual or being grouped. Also, learning a bit of background about them makes me appreciate things that I take for granted in modern daily life. Paper in this post. Sugar in previous post.

14 comments:

  1. I love the reed house and the clay floor! It's probably so cool in summer! Might be freezing in winter, though, and the dust would probably make me sneeze ... but never mind, reality should never spoil a fantasy. :D

    I never knew that washi could be thrown into a well. Presumably the ink is also waterproof?

    More posts, please! This reader is happy! ;)

    PS: Also more cute photos, please!

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    1. We should totally research on the waterproof ink of feudal Japan!

      Time for Google! ;p

      Pity there isn't an ink factory or whatnot at Shikoku Mura because we'd have the answer in the next post. ;)

      I am happy to obliged my readers. Anything to make them happy. ^^

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  2. Great post Lina! Yes, reed houses would be a lot cooler in summer with great ventilation to catch that cool breeze and circulate the air. Looking forward to more posts about Shikoku Mura :)

    Japan Australia

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    1. Though I can't help but wonder how they dealt with bugs and insects? But I suppose the roaring fire and/or the smoke from the irori would take care of that?

      I'm happy to report there'll be a few more Shikoku Mura posts.

      Thank you for enjoying them! ^^

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  3. Interesting. It's like making sugar. Old tools are always interesting.

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    1. plus knowing how it was in the olden times makes us appreciate modern technology more. :)

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  4. Visiting your blog, I can learn about Japanese things. Thank you very much.

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    1. I'm learning a lot too. History is always interesting. :)

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  5. Love Lina's blog! There's so many things to see and to learn here! ^^

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    1. Thank you for liking it! :)

      It's a joy to share. ^^

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  6. Paper back then must have been very precious and expensive while we take it for granted today. I bet it was hot in those huts or I guess workers can consider it as getting a daily sauna.

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    1. It must be indeed. That's why only the rich can be literate and enjoy books back in those days.

      I am so thankful to be born in the modern world!

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  7. This is interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

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  8. I am in love with washi. I have a large collection of it.

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