Japan - Email 4 - Awagami Paper Mill - Part 1

Ohayo gozaimas, friends and family,

I should probably start out by saying that we did not even feel the 6.8 earthquake in Nagano. We didn't even realize it had happened until Inez Storer's email just now. Japan is a volcanic island.

Sunday Don was scheduled to speak at Awagami Paper Mill. Aya Fujimori, a daughter of the Fujimori family (no relation, I think, to the former president of Peru), and her husband, Craig Anczelowitz, formerly of NY, picked us up early from our Takamatsu Hotel. The Fujimori family has been making paper at Awagami for over 300 years. Mr Fujimori or Fujimori-san is an innovative and experimental head of the company, reminding us of Don, so we were eager to visit and see what was going on at Awagami. 

If you've followed the Magnolia Editions blog, you may remember that some of the artists who work with us at Magnolia (Hung Liu, Mildred Howard, Bob Nugent, Mary Webster) participated in an exhibition we had in March of last year during the time the Southern Graphics Arts Council visited the SF Bay Area; all works were on Awagami paper. We had a concurrent exhibition of Magnolia Editions work at Worth Ryder Gallery, UC Berkeley. Later, Awagami made large sheets of a heavyweight handmade paper for a Chuck Close project.

Exterior Awagami Paper Mill, handmade paper building

The Awagami handmade papermaking studio, paper factory, dyeing facilities, etc., etc., are spread across their small town located near Tokushima. It's impressive, the handmade papermaking studio, especially, which is laid out beautifully and intelligently, taking all papermaking needs into consideration.

Don, Translator Kyoko, and some of the audience after exiting the lecture room; Chuck Close's Phil watercolor print on Awagami Bizan paper is on the wall.

The talk was considered a big success as over 50 people came to Awagami, which is located in the Japanese countryside in Shikoku, some from as far away as Osaka University, journalists, and a local television crew. Later a Tokyo tv station sent a cameraman down to film footage and do an interview of Don making handmade paper.

Magnolia coffee was served.

The dream papermaking studio

Forming a sheet

Couching a sheet 

 Don formed and couched sheets of kozo for a large portion of our 3 working days at the Awagami Paper Mill.

Era and Mieko-san (Mrs. Fujimori)

Don making "distressed" paper for an art project

Aya and Era watching the coated paper dry

Third coating of paper (kakishibu, "bad" paint, rice paste)

The Fujimori's dog, Momoko

Craig with Momoko

Our friend, Jung Lee, showed up, fresh from a successful art fair in Shanghai. He had great success selling some Zhang Peili artworks created at Magnolia and Tamarind prints. He is bringing some Awagami paper to China for some of his artists. Jung is standing in front of some of Awagami's beautiful wallpapers.

Removing and stacking the dried kozo paper from the drying boards (on our 4th and final day of work)

All the way along we were treated to delicious Japanese meals
A little different. To the left are fish sperm, the Fujimori parents and Jung Lee went for this, so I decided to try it. It was actually quite good, although it took a little mental adjustment. To the right is tofu with crab.

Don, Craig and Aya had crab, which also looks delicious.

Shiso and other peppers, chunks of steak underneath

I don't quite remember the order, but a beautiful plate of sashimi

Breaded shrimp and shiso, crab, abalone and fish

All one meal, washed down with beer and sake. Fujimori-san and Mieko-san toasting everyone.

A closeup of the mini abalone. When the rice came out, cooked with tiny fish, most of us couldn't touch it. This was one meal.

Love from Japan

Era and Don