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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 This is another technique in which a thin layer of blue paper is layered over a finished layer of white paper to create a two-layer structure. Before the light blue layer dries, water droplets are dropped from above which, on impact, displace the blue fibers leaving white circles (hence the name “polka dots paper”). The example you see is from the 17th century; I have never seen an earlier one, so it is likely that this paper began to be used around that time.


As our final example of decoration applied at the sheet-forming stage we look at mizutama-gami or “polka dots paper”.

Mizutamagami is made by adding a thin layer of indigo or purple dyed paper to an existing sheet of paper. Before it dries, water droplets are dropped from above and their impact creates the water drop pattern from which the paper takes its name. In contrast to the three types we looked at earlier, there are no examples of this style before the 17th century, so the technique is likely to have been invented at that time. Since it is not really suitable to be used as writing paper, mizutamagami is easier to find on covers, colored paper, or tanzaku paper strips.

Please watch the video to look at some actual examples.

A book 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