Hands on Japan: Making Echizen Washi

When travelling around, or entertaining visitors to Japan I always think it is a good idea to have some hands on experiences, some 'doing' to balance all the 'seeing'. Using traditional methods to make a piece of washi (paper) is a simple activity that also leaves you with something light and easy to get back home again. There are various places all around Japan where you can experience the paper making process, in Fukui, paper making central is Echizen Washi Village. It is said that the paper making process was first introduced in Echizen 1500 years ago and to this day, it remains one of the largest washi industries in Japan.
The easiest and cheapest place to make paper in Echizen is at Papyrus House. Here you can choose from a few different products, from fans to business cards an you can take the finished masterpiece home with you. For a more detailed experience, Udatsu Paper and Craft museum also runs workshops and the paper you create will be sent or collected at a later date.

Now to the process!
Besides the paper making, there are two paper craft museums in the area that are worth a visit and many paper stores to wander through. Some of the paper is as thin as lace, some is thick enough to to sculpt boxes and glasses cases. It's definitely worth giving yourself plenty of browsing time!
Paper making demonstrations, Udatsu Paper and Craft Museum
During Golden week, the Kami (meaning both paper and Gods) Festival takes place here and in addition to the usual attractions, there are dance performances, traditional foods (soba noodles are a specialty of the area) and also a paper sale of sorts where you can snap up a bargain, for example 100g of washi for Y100, it turns out to be about 20-30 sheets of paper. Nice!
If you are interested in heading off the beaten track, detailed information about Echizen Washi Village can be found here. Why not combine a visit to Echizen Washi Village with the amazing Dinosaur Museum in Katsuyama?

Travelling Firefly