Tradition is being passed on: Making Udagami (Traditional Japanese paper made in Uda)

by Akiko

Kubogakiuchi village, Yoshino. The mountains have started to turn yellow. Here, I experienced making traditional Udagami (Uda Japanese paper). It is said that paper making was brought here by Oamano Miko (who later became Emperor Tenmu in 673AD).

Yoshino River running slowly

All the equipment has been in use for many years. I scooped water thick with paper mulberries a few times using a wooden frame. The sixth generation paper maker Mr Fukunishi kindly gave me a helping hand. Thank you.

Well maintained tools are hundreds of years old

Scooping is done, but It’s not finished yet. Next is drying, one by one under the sun.

According to Mr Fukunishi’s daughter, who will become the seventh generation paper maker, the wooden sun drying boards have been in use since Edo period (17-19th centuries).

This important tradition continues to exist thanks to the family’s hard work.

Being dried under the sun

Two hours under the sun, traditional skills, sun light, and the family’s hard work and love are necessary for one piece of Udagami to be produced.

The family kindly spared much time explaining about various kinds of paper they make. It was a precious learning experience for a painter, and I look forward to painting on them soon!

Compare-Wakakusa’s beautiful voices!

We happened to meet some members of a male-voice choir (called “Compare-Wakakusa”), who sang for us, standing next to the drying papers. What a wonderful day!

1000 years old cedar tree…

Nearby is Nyukawakami Jinja shrine. A big cedar tree there has lived for over a thousand years. We looked into the thick roots, wondering if ‘Totoro’ was living there?

Author: okuyamato.site

I am from Okuyamato, Nara, Japan (she/her). Have lived in Pakistan, Sudan, Jamaica, Fiji, Viet Nam, Maldives, and UK. Currently studying Japanese painting at Musashino Art University, Tokyo.

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