Ogawa, Saitama Prefecture, Japan
All of our skincare products are wrapped in traditional Washi paper, which we treat just as preciously as delicate food. All the Washi is made by hand in the small village of Ogawa in Japan, and takes four beautiful seasons from planting to final product to produce. As of November 27th, 2014, 3 types of Washi paper, including the Hosokawa-gami paper we use, was registered into the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage for its use of the traditional art of “Washi” style paper making. Simple and delicate, yet unexpectedly sturdy, the whisper-weight Washi paper has a sophisticated warmth. These natural materials we have chose are created through environmentally friendly ways and show respect to our customers.
Harvesting "Kozo" paper mulberry
Papermaking begins with harvesting Kouzo Mulberry trees. Harvesting is done in the relatively dry period from the end of November until the following January. As only the trunk is used, the branches of the tree are cleanly trimmed off.
Steaming the shoots
The trimmed and cut Kouzo Mulberry trunks are then gathered and tied into bundles to match the size of the steaming oven. The trunks are arranged with their roots facing down in the steaming oven, and are then steamed for 2 to 3 hours.
Scraping the bark
The black outer bark of the Kouzo Mulberry tree is then peeled off, leaving only the white inner-bark. Washi paper is made from this white inner-bark.
Boiling the bark
The white inner-bark is then dried once, and then boiled in a mixture of water and soda ash (sodium carbonate) to soften the bark and separate the fibers.
Washing and bleaching
When the white bark has been completely cooked, it is placed in cold water where it is cleansed of any alkalinity and bleached by the sun. The white bark is then pulled out one by one with a bamboo stick and again any residual matter and discoloration are carefully removed.
Pounding the kozo
To further loosen its fibers in preparation for paper making, the kozo is struck repeatedly with hardwood rods.
Making the paper
The combined materials (water, kozo, and neri) are put into a sukibune (paper making vat) and evenly mixed. Grasping the mold, the papermaker scoops up some of the mixture and pours it across a bamboo screen repeatedly, rocking the screen bank and forth until the pulpy fibers have spread evenly over the surface. The washi sheets are moved to kanda (paper beds), onto which they are stacked one by one.
The pressed sheets are peeled off one at a time and placed on wooden boards, there to dry in the sun. When paper is placed on a board and dried in this way, it results in a unique wood grain pattern.
After is finishes drying, the paper is taken indoors and sorted. Each sheet is examined with great care.