世界遺産に登録された唯一無二の和紙技術。

石州和紙・石州半紙

Sekishu Washi / Sekishu Banshi

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SEKISHU WASHI / SEKISHU BANSHI

World Heritage registered
unique paper-making techniques.

Sekishu Washi - a nationally designated Important Intangible Cultural Property
Sekishu Banshi - a registered World Cultural Heritage

The Iwami region in the western part of Shimane Prefecture has preserved the traditional tesuki paper-making techniques for around 1,300 years. Sekishu Washi, designated by the country in 1969 as an Important Intangible Cultural Property, is made from local plants called kozo, mitsumata and gampi, using the special Japanese technique called nagashi-suki.

The type of Sekishu Washi with the highest production rate is Sekishu Banshi, handmade washi paper of a standardized size. Sekishu Banshi is made from 100% local kozo, which has long thin fibers, and it is rated as the strongest kind of paper in Japan. In 2009, Sekishu Banshi was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. In the Edo period, merchants in Osaka used Sekishi Banshi for their accounts, and when there was a fire, promptly threw the books down wells to preserve them. This shows that the paper is also highly water resistant.

There are currently four workshops in Misumi-cho which preserve the traditional techniques of Sekishu Washi production. We visited one of these, a workshop called Nishida Washi Kobo. They consider the local materials to be extremely important, and cultivate their own materials where possible. In front of the workshop is a kozo plantation. “Washi is raw, so the best time to make the paper is in winter, when the materials are fresh and there are fewer bacteria around. The colder it is, the firmer and better the paper,” says Seigi Nishida, the 7th generation washi maker. The craftsman at work, his whole body moving in rhythm as he makes the paper in the tesuki style, cuts a nimble and prepossessing figure. A workshop performing the whole paper-making process, from the cultivation of materials to the pretreatment, is extremely rare in Japan. The washi from Nishida Washi Kobo has been used in the restoration of cultural properties, including the under layer of the fusuma sliding doors of Nijo Castle in Kyoto.

Watch, buy and make
at the Sekishu Washi Center experience facility

Sekishu Washi Center, founded in 2008, is surrounded by the beautiful greenery of Misumi Central Park. Its purpose is to foster the next generation of washi craftspeople, and it serves as a Sekishu Washi technique and method training facility. The center has an exhibition room, shop, gallery and workshop.

The shop sells souvenirs made of Sekishu Washi, including traditional crafts, such as Sekishu Banshi, Japanese notebooks, and Western-style clothing and accessories. The stunning masks and the Yamata-no-orochi serpent which appear in Iwami Kagura dance performances are product highlights.

Every year, around 1,000 local school children come to the workshop to make their own graduation certificates. There are also workshops where general visitors can try their hand at making paper.

Before I visited the paper-making region, I did not know the difference between Sekishu Washi and Sekishu Banshi. When I met the craftspeople and saw the paper-making techniques, I was very impressed by just how wonderful it was. It was an experience that makes one even more enthusiastic about discovering the good things of San’in.

{ Access }

  • ●Access to Nishida Washi Kobo: Approximately 6 minutes by car from Miho-Misumi Station, JR San’in Line

  • ●1694 Furuichiba, Misumi-cho, Hamada City, Shimane Prefecture

  • ●Access to Sekishu Washi Center: Approximately 13 minutes by car from Miho-Misumi Station, JR San’in Line

  • ●598 Furuichiba, Misumi-cho, Hamada City, Shimane Prefecture

  • [ more information ] Sekishu Washi <<View the site>>

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SEKISHU WASHI / SEKISHU BANSHI