Tradition of Ryukyu Japanese Paper (Ryukyu-Washi), Hiroshi Kuwamura's 14th Shima Photo Column
post : 2016.07.31 12:00
Ryukyu-washi is one of the Okinawa's traditional craft which has been handed down since Ryukyu dynasty such as Yachimun and Bingata. Typical Ryukyu-shi are Basho-shi which is often seen at gift shops, and also Aoganpi-shi, Kouzo-shi, Kouzonryu-shi, and Mimata-shi. Dyed varieties of colors by natural ink.
The history of strained Ryukyu paper started in 1686. The technique was learnt in Satsuma and brought to Ryukyu. In Ryukyu, it started on Kinjo, Shuri and spread to Yamakawa and Takaraguchi, Gibo. Only the place of paper straining left at Takaraguchi, Gibo, and one craftsman left.
Takaraguchi in the rich nature, paper straining craft "Shoshi-an" and craftsman "Kiyoshi Agena".
Demand of strained paper and craftsmen are decreasing. It requires effort and time as other traditional crafts, and price of it is about one-tenth of others. Unless the demand is getting higher, the tradition is getting broken.
I hope that more printmakers, calligraphers, and craftsmen use this more and more to carry on the torch.
Mr. Agena does experience learning classes for younger generation. Let children make their diplomas of preschools, so that they learn the tradition and experience.
A workshop was held at Kijoka elementary school, Ohgimi-son. 6th grade students crafted their diplomas, and 5th grade students did their certificates. Kijoka is famous for Bashohu made from Ito-basho. Inner bark of basho left over from Bashohu is used for Basho-shi. Kijoka elementary school was abolished on March this year, so their diplomas and certificates made from local produced basho and crafted by the themselves will be special treasure for the students. I hope that traditional crafts will be shined like treasure and throw a spotlight on.
Straining paper craft shop "Shosi-an"
Address: 4-89, Gibo-cho, Shuri, Naha-city, Okinawa
Please contact for any kind of Ryukyu paper craft
Okinawa CLIP Photographer/Writer Hiroshi Kuwamura