On a recent trip to Yoshino, a town in the south of Nara prefecture famous for its cherry blossoms, we managed to get to meet one of Japan’s ‘National Living Treasures’. Designated so because of their outstanding accomplishments in traditional arts and crafts, many are the from families that have carried on their profession down the generations.
We met Masayuki Fukunishi, who together with his father Hiroyuki Fukunishi (the National Living Treasure) run the Fukunishi Washi (Japanese paper) studio.
Fukunishi-san explained the process of making washi. From the growing of the plant, washing it, spreading out the pulp, and drying it using the old Yoshino method, on wooden boards.
His wife and mother process the fibres before the pulp is made.
Masayuki Fukunishi (the son) shows us the various types of washi his studio produces. It is of such high quality that it is used by the Imperial family.
Fukunishi-san welcomes visitors to his workshop, and has created a three-hour programme, with a demonstration of the paper-making process, and also the possibility to learn some Japanese caligraphy. You can write your name in Japanese ‘katakana’ characters, and take home the scroll which can be framed and put on your wall.