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Washi is a 100% natural product!

The Japan Washi Photographic Society refers to washi photography as WashigraphPhoto to distinguish it from commercially available washi-like inkjet printing paper.
The WashigraphPhoto is the result of three elements: traditional Japanese craftsmanship culture, photo data optimisation technology: Photo Authoring, and a state-of-the-art digital output system with a dedicated printing director.
The result of these three elements is Washigraph Photo, which has been acclaimed abroad in museums as 'prints of light'.



Washi is made from eco-friendly natural plants
Unlike pulp (western paper), which requires large-scale deforestation, the plants that are the main raw material for washi can be harvested in as little as two years.

Easy cultivation by utilising fallow land or a corner of a satoyama can lead to the development of an industry in depopulated areas.

The Japan Washi Photographic Society will also actively promote cooperation with the project to cultivate plants used as raw materials for washi.


Washi materials

The most common type of plant fibre used in washi photography is kozo (paper mulberry).

Neri is a liquid that plays an important role in diffusing these kozo fibres so that they do not harden.

Neri is made by crushing the roots of the tororoaoi and soaking them in water.

Neri is not an adhesive but, on the contrary, a traditional Japanese natural solvent for diffusing the fibres apart.

Unraveling the fibres to make paper

The plant fibres that have been exposed to water are unravelled by hand.

Various processes are added at this stage to produce bleached types of paper and paper with a raw texture, for example.

Much of this is carried out by the careful handiwork of women.

It requires patience to remove impurities and large quantities of high-quality natural water.

Boil the fibres

The plants are boiled for a long time and then exposed to water.

Various techniques exist for this process, depending on the type of plant used as material.

Fibre making

Paper sizes for handmade washi are available for various uses and fine sizes.

The size of the paper is not changed by cutting the washi to size, but is determined at this stage of the handmade process. 

As a rule, the handmade washi used for WshigraphPhoto is often produced as soon as an order is placed.

We have even ordered huge A-fold sized washi for folding screens.

It is not unusual for artists from abroad to stay here for long periods of time because they want custom-sized washi.

Applying a protective agent for photographic output

WashigraphPhoto images are formed by a combination of ten different pigment dyes, and a special protective agent is applied to the surface of the washi paper in its raw state for the following reasons

To improve the fixation of the pigments.

To improve the gloss of the washi and the blackness of the image.

To prevent discolouration and corrosion over hundreds of years. 

The raw materials for this protectant are all natural and no chemical agents are used.

The surface of the paper is rigorously checked and carefully selected.

The highest grade of Japanese paper most used for WashigraphPhoto is made from super-thick, top-quality paper (Bizan).

Before passing the paper through the output machine, fibre tangles and irregularities are checked with a loupe, which limits the paper that can be used for WashigraphPhoto to only a portion of the paper produced.

Rolled Japanese paper produced in machine factories.

Various techniques exist, depending on the type of plant used as material.

Bamboo washi made from bamboo is not handmade, but is produced in mechanised factories.

The spaces in the bamboo cells keep the pigment from escaping and there is no blotting.

The compressed rolls of paper prevent wrinkling and are used as paper for mounting hanging scrolls and other objects.

As it is a glossy paper, it is also used for postcards.

The potential of indigo-dyed washi

The city of Yoshinogawa in Tokushima Prefecture, where Awagami Factory is located, is also home to the indigo dyeing culture.

Research is also underway to fuse the indigo-dyeing technique with washi cloth made from Japanese paper fibres. 

Japanese paper is a migratory culture

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