While mention is made of an Iyo paper in the Engishiki, an official document on court protocol written in the Heian period (794-1185), hard facts about Ozu Washi do not exist until the 18th century. The monk, Zennoshin was responsible for teaching people how to make paper, when he came to one of the villages of the Ozu clan, and what developed into a craft industry flourished under the protection and patronage of the clan.
The quality of this paper was highly praised and now many people are still engaged in the production of this handmade paper, respectfully following those that went before them.
Because every sheet is individually made, there is none of the impersonality of a machine-made paper. Apart from traditional papers, which are still being produced, the handmade paper market has been expanded by producing colored papers for chigiri-e pictures made from many small pieces of torn paper.
Compared to Western papers, each handmade sheet of washi paper has warmer touch and softer feeling. They are used on Shoji screens, calligraphy papers, etc. The new use is also emerging such as materials of Chigirie-arts.
How to make
Washi are made from mulberry, edgeworthia, gampi, hemp, straw and other paperplants. The traditional methods to make papers through boiling, beating, breaching, spreading and drying, is inherited until today. Especially, nagashi-suki method is the tradition inherited in making Ozu washi.