Written during the Nara period (710-794), reference is made to papers from this area in such ancient documents to be found in the Shosoin Repository in Nara. Further evidence of the long history of Etchu Washi can also be found in the Heian period (794-1185) document on court protocol, the Engishiki, in which it is recorded that paper was used to pay taxes.
From the beginning of the Edo period (1600-1868) traditional papers from the Yao district were used in various ways including to wrap medicines; and papers from Tairamura village were produced in large quantities for the local Kaga clan that ruled the area of present-day Ishikawa prefecture. It is the legacy of all these traditional papers that has been handed down to us today.
A great variety of Etchu Washi are being produced at the present time including traditional translucent papers for the shoji screens of the traditional house, hanshi or common form of writing paper, lantern paper as well as modern calligraphy papers, printing papers and over 100 colored papers. In addition to these the strong supple paper mulberry or kozo papers are sold all over the country for making stencil papers.
Etchu Washi includes traditional paper for shoji sliding screens, calligraphy, and lanterns, as well as modern paper for books and printmaking. In total over 100 different kinds of paper including dyed paper are produced. Additionally, the tough kozo paper is also sold nationwide as processed items decorated with patterns.
How to make
The production process begins with boiling the kozo, then beating it, making the paper, then letting it dry, which is the same way as paper is produced elsewhere in Japan, but the paper used for shoji screens for drawing room construction called "shoin-shi" and papers used to preserve cultural property, paper for lanterns, and more, uses kozo that has been bleached in the snow before boiling. Additionally, a variety of dyes including natural dyes, stain, and pigments are used to color the paper.