Paper of the Gods

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A gift passed down from the gods, Echizen in Fukui Prefecture is known for its 1,500- year history of washi (Japanese paper) making. About 80 factories engaged in papermaking are concentrated in one small valley.

The home of Echizen-washi is in the Goka area of Echizen City from a cluster of five small villages — Oizu, Ōtaki, Iwamoto, Shinzaike, and Sadatomo. These villages are blessed with abundant spring water and surrounded by mountains.

The washi of this region is distinguished by its rich variety, and includes traditional thick paper for ceremonial use, official documents, and banknotes. Washi is also made in various sizes for business cards and postcards and for drawing and painting.

Echizen-washi was designated as an intangible traditional craft in 1976. Twenty artisans from the region, including National Living Treasure Ichibei Iwano (pictured), will present their handmade paper installations, both functional and decorative, including an exquisite full-sized washi tea house, at the George J. Doizaki Gallery, Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro St., Little Tokyo, from June 24 to July 29, with opening and closing receptions from 1 to 3 p.m.

This exhibition, “Kami to Kami” (神と紙), will explore various utilization of washi through traditional/contemporary printmaking, lanterns, and large-format washi.

Free admission. Gallery hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 12 to 4 p.m.; closed Monday, Tuesday and holidays. Info: www.jaccc.org.

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