My only New Year’s Resolution would be that I would write more love letters— and by “love”, I mean Thank You’s, Acknowledgements of Kindness, and Appreciations.
To this end, and to jump start some creative writing, I bought a small desk of Craigslist that I placed downstairs so that I could at least peak out at the garden while scribbling, gathered up all the nice bits of paper around the house, then started buying stationary from my new friends at de Medici Ming and writing on very lovely paper from France and Italy.
I don’t know enough about fine paper, but I knew a few things before heading to Japan. First, I knew that the Japanese were nuts for pretty stationary and we’d see all kinds of cute. I knew some of the world’s best paper is made in Japan, and in particular, we’d see many types of washi. Finally, with most of our trip on our bikes, I knew that I’d not be able to carry much and that paper was going to be my souvenir. Oh, the Love Letters I would write!
All of this turned out true and I did bring home several lovely bits of paper and envelopes. This includes cotton paper printed in Nara, rough washi from Wajima, very pretty gift envelopes from Itoya in Tokyo that will be awesome to use when we give away our jam, and definitely more than few cute rabbit cards from anywhere I might see them!
I was sick for paper.
Of all of it, by far the most exqisite and truly special paper is the karakami by Karacho, Japan’s last traditional woodblock-printed papermaker. Located in Kyoto, I made a point to visit the Shijo Karasuma showroom at the Cocon Center on our first day in town. I managed to get back twice. Once again with Victor on the premise of gifting, and once where I ditched Victor and rushed over like a fiend for drugs.
The paper itself is muted and incredibly smooth despite the obvious natural fibers scattered through it. Of course, what people buy this paper for are the incredible designs. The skill, or so it seems to me, is laying the ink so that its color and weight take on a range of character depending on the light. The same design can be both surprisingly delicate or forceful depending on the angle one admires the paper.
Designboom has an excellent article on Karacho, a look at the workshop, and the process of making it. Highly recommended! Click HERE!
Karacho’s site is almost entirely in Japanese, but it is here if you can read it! www.karacho.co.jp