Skip to 0 minutes and 3 secondsThere are book lovers everywhere in the world, but I think it’s fair to say that throughout history Japanese people have shown an uncommon fondness for books. Where else do you find this variety of sizes, formats, and decoration styles? Of course, this variety would not exist without an equally great variety of paper types. You are absolutely right. As I said in Week 1, today we have the technology to scientifically analyze and classify paper. One third of the world is covered by forest, but in Japan forests take up close to 70% of the land. The variety of washi paper is made possible by this very rich natural environment. I see.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 secondsI have been studying books professionally for thirty years but I still come across book covers with styles and designs that I have never seen before. There is so much you can tell about the history and development of washi paper just from the covers, let alone everything else. Indeed. I think you could tell the whole history of Japanese culture just by focusing on paper. Paper was not used just in books and writing but also in everyday life. What’s unfortunate is that our students here are not able to feel the paper with their own hands… Indeed. Words can only say so much about it you also needs to touch the paper.

Skip to 1 minute and 33 secondsIn fact, one of the great things about doing bibliographic research that you get to touch books first hand. I invite our viewers to try it for themselves. The most widely available washi-paper item outside Japan is probably ukiyoe prints. Great ukiyoe artists like Utamaro and Hokusai apparently chose the paper they wanted their prints to be printed on. When you touch thick, nice-quality paper you feel its warmth. There are so many different types I definitely urge our viewers to come to Japan to try them. In Japan, too, there must be many people who have never really experienced traditional washi paper. I would be very happy if this course encouraged more viewers to continue to explore and think about traditional Japanese books.

Skip to 2 minutes and 20 secondsTo all our viewers: thank you so much for staying with us until the end!

Farewell from your educators

Now that you’ve made your way through the course we would like to thank you for staying with us until the end. Watch the video to see Professor Sasaki and Dr. Shiroto’s goodbye message.

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The Art of Washi Paper in Japanese Rare Books

Keio University