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This content is taken from the Keio University's online course, The Art of Washi Paper in Japanese Rare Books. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 3 seconds Please look at this brown area here. This color is also obtained from persimmon tannin but compared to the examples we looked at earlier, the color is applied in small dots. This effect is obtained by blowing dye onto the paper. Tiny particles of liquid are blown onto the paper to color it. The technique is called fukizome (“blow-dyeing”). Although the earliest examples of this technique date from the Nara period (8th century), what you see here is a 14th century Buddhist text. In this example here, the technique used is the same but this is the cover of a 17th century waka (classical Japanese poetry) book. You can see it has the same kind of “spotty” finish.

Fukizome (blow-dyeing)

Fukizome consists in blowing small particles of liquid dye onto the paper.

The intensity of the color can be varied by changing the blowing style, and patterns can be obtained by using stencils. There are some examples of early Buddhist texts decorated using the fukizome method while medieval Buddhist texts also have their covers decorated with this technique. Most of these early examples are brown, probably obtained from the clove (Japanese chōji, Syzygium aromaticum) or from persimmon tannin. The former is known as chōji-buki (literally, “clove-blowing”).

Watch the video to see examples of covers colored by fukizome. The color of the examples introduced in the video is either persimmon extract (kakishibu) or clove.

Books introduced in the video:

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This video is from the free online course:

The Art of Washi Paper in Japanese Rare Books

Keio University