The Koiki Company co-operates with the Japanese artists who create traditional, high quality products. These are extraordinary specialists who follow the national tradition and have got great knowledge and a long-term experience in their craft, but at the same time, they produce items that are modern in nature and adjusted to the taste of today’...
The Koiki Company co-operates with the Japanese artists who create traditional, high quality products. These are extraordinary specialists who follow the national tradition and have got great knowledge and a long-term experience in their craft, but at the same time, they produce items that are modern in nature and adjusted to the taste of today’s customers.
When visiting such small, family workshops it is hard not to be charmed by their unique atmosphere. Not only are they are located in picturesque mountain regions, at the banks of rivers, but in areas that have been involved in paper production for hundreds of years and they astound with their history and respect for values they pass onto generations.
The founder of the Heizaburo Iwano I workshop was born in 1878. He has learned the papermaking trade from his father, who apart from washi dealt also with the production of silk. He became famous all over Japan as well as abroad as a manufacturer of a unique sheet of the diameter exceeding 4 metres, which was used by Taikan Yokoyama (横山大観) and Kanzan Shimomura (下村観山) as canvass for their painting. Until today, this work of art can be admired in the main lobby of the library at the Waseda University in Tokyo. Another important work is held at the main Zen temple - Eiheiji (more than 5 metres in width and length).
Today the workshop cultivates the family traditions and produces top quality paper, appreciated by renowned artists. It is one of the largest hand production facilities in Echizen and employs around 30 persons, whose exceptional skills allow them to produce large-scale sheets.
Mr. Ichibei Iwano IX, the Living National Treasure. He is the representative of the ninth generation, which has been producing a classic Japanese paper - washi, kizuki hosho - in the family workshop in Echizen.
The tradition of the handmade paper is more than a thousand years old, nevertheless it is still valid. The applied materials and technology are as true with the original ones as possible. Only the kozo fibres are used and they come from the Japanese farms (Ibaraki prefecture), the process of dissolution of bark uses very weak base and the sheets are dried on planks of ginkgo tree. Paper made this way is extremely durable – graphic reproductions can be made more than 100 times on a single sheet. Such quality was appreciated by Pablo Picasso, who was using washi made by the father of Ichibei Iwano. Nowadays this paper is used by several renowned modern artists and the conservation studios of the largest museums.
For the Living National Treasure the production of handmade paper is not only work, but also the philosophy of life. It teaches patience, harmonious co-existence with nature and respect for tradition.
Noriko Hahsida has graduated from the University of the Arts in Tokyo, the Department of Industrial Design. She is an active designer, lecturer, a juror of numerous competitions and a member of associations dealing with design.
Apart from designs of utility items such as pieces of furniture, she has created a series of decorative items made from the Japanese paper. Chigiri washi (chigiri – to tear) is a composition of shapes that may be separated freely from each other and re-attached to make up a completely new design.
A small family paper-producing workshop, situated among other facilities on the picturesque hills of Echizen. It was founded 80 years ago by the grandfather of the current owner, Ryozo Yanase. The work starts early morning, at 5:30 and ends after sunset. As Yasuhiro Yanase says, such rhythm has worked for centuries and it works today, too.
The workshop makes several types of paper – from a beautiful fishnet-like mizutama, to dyed and wrinkled papers. The artisans look all the time for new solutions and implementations, however all processes are entirely hand-operated.
Yoshinao Sugihara is a curator, connoisseur and promoter of washi. The family’s history dates back to the XVIIIth century. At that time, and most probably also before, this family was involved in supporting the production of washi and its popularisation. Until today, the family holds several lectures, organises exhibitions and prints publications regarding washi.
Jörg Gessner. A German artist, whose new artistic journey started in 2006 after an inspiring visit to Japan and encounters with the most eminent makers of washi. He creates pure paintings using the natural beauty of sheets of paper and uses washi as canvass.
The meeting of the above-mentioned individuals resulted in the creation of a series of items made from natural materials, in accordance with the Japanese tradition, yet following the modern trends of design.
A family workshop, exceptional for the reason of washi produced not only from kozo and mitsumata, but also of gampi, which a wild plant and therefore the process of stripping the bark is very difficult. It is a place that puts a lot of emphasis not only on high quality of hand-made washi, but also on its decorative aspects. The paper is dyed, smoothened and it receives various textures. The craftsmen of Umeda Washi develop new patterns and new technical processes.
Currently the workshop does not operate.