Japan Email #5 - Awagami Part 2

Hi friends and family,

Sorry about the occasional wrong email blog links. Honestly, I don't know how people keep up a constant blog. There is so much to do to get it right. They must stay up all night or devote their entire day to it.

Prequel: This is the empty vat, su and keta (hanging above the vat) where Don will be working. in the background Satomi is at her vat - She will be making paper and keeping her eye on Don. Some of the kids from the almost continual visits by school children in the background, looking on.

Fujimori san taking time out from his busy day of running multiple branches of a company, preparing the vat for Don's sheet forming sessions. Here he is adjusting the tension of the bamboo counterweights.

The master papermaker, Fujimori-san, forming kozo sheets

Kozo and neri being stirred in the large stainless steel vats
 by the custom-built traditional wooden stirrer, mechanized by Fujimori-san.

Stirring mechanism video

More preparation for Don: Satomi stirring Don's vat (slicing the neri - or the tororo goo, from the root of the hibiscus).

This woman carefully cleans the kozo, removing bits of outer bark which were missed in the first cleaning. 

At a vat just behind Don and Satomi's stations is Fukunaga pouring pulp into a Western style paper mould to make the very thick paper, similar to the paper used in the Chuck Close project.


This is the post of paper Don made on the first day - nice smooth-looking post, no air bubbles. Not bad for a Westerner; the Awagami staff were impressed, as the sheet and mould size was fairly big. The pink ribbons are laid between each sheet to aid in the separation after pressing.

Here we see Don's post of paper and the vat, su and keta beyond. This is about 45 sheets.

Era, working under Mieko's tutelage, lowers specially treated kozo into a vat of indigo... very, very slowly

Mieko rinsing the dyed sheet.

Dried indigo

Rooftop view on our way to the dyeing section of Awagami

This is a lacy hemp paper, crumpled in a certain way

Then dipped into the dye vats, coming out looking a bit like a market basket full of cabbages

After uncrumpling

Each sheet is different and very strong. They let me dye one, but mine came out a little too green, so they let me keep it. 

These are a momigami paper to be used for covering graduation diplomas

Don and Aya speaking with the cameraman from a Tokyo television station, speaking about the Chuck Close Phil on Awagami paper. If you haven't seen this, it is gorgeous. He also filmed the gaijin making Japanese paper. 

Another great meal at our hotel (showing half of the meal), Aburayamima, definitely a Japanese crowd. In the hills above Tokushima.

Futons made ready for us. There is a sink, toilet, no shower. You are expected to go to the communal baths, take your shower (scrub well) and then soak in the communal tub. We were usually too tired at the end of the day, so would go in the morning.

Love from Japan,

Era and Don