The Japanese term washi refers to traditional paper.
Most of it is produced by hand, using long-established techniques.
Basically, the process consists of soaking fibers in water and then gathering them on a bamboo mesh screen in such a way that the fibers become entangled and produce paper.
The process requires great skill and is carried out by craftsmen.
Unlike massproduced Western paper, handmade washi has a warm quality, and it is much stronger.
In addition, it does not contain chemicals that will lead to its deterioration, and there are examples of washi paper that are over 1,000 years old.
This dependability has resulted in it being utilized in the restoration of art work throughout the world.
Washi can be broadly divided into three types according to the fibers that are used in its production.
Paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) has long fibers that intertwine easily to create a strong paper.
Mitsumata (Edgeworthia chrysantha) has short fibers, producing a delicate paper.
Finally, Ganpi (Diplomorpha sikokiana) combines both strength and delicacy to produce the veryhighest-quality paper.
Washi is time-consuming to produce and so costs more than Western paper, but thesoft, unique texture is something that can only be achieved by hand.