Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off your first 2 months of Unlimited Monthly. Start your subscription for just £29.99 £19.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more


There are other papers that, like karakami, came to Japan from China. They are these examples here. First, I don’t know if you can see well from the video, but you should be able to see these tree patterns here. More than colored, the patterns have a shine to them. This one here was once part of a book and has a similar overall feel, the patterns seem to float on the surface of the page, and here too there is this extremely fine geometric pattern, and I think you can see that the shapes have a shine to them. Because it looks like the paper was coated with wax (although it was not), it is called “wax-rubbed paper” (rōsen).
First used in the Heian period, it came into vogue again in the Edo period (1603-1868). To make it, the patterns are first carved onto wooden blocks and then gubiki color paper is placed on them which is rubbed with a hard object so that the texture on the blocks transfers to the paper. So in rōsen paper, the design is applied by friction. What we have here looks somewhat similar to rōsen but the patterns are not glossy. These are called yakie (“branded pictures”). The designs were engraved on metal printing plates which are then heated and “branded” onto gubiki color paper.
This is another way to add designs to the paper, and, like rōsen, it began to be used in the Heian period but came into vogue again in the Edo period. If the plates are pressed too hard the paper gets burned in these areas where the color is lighter, the surface layer of the paper has fallen off. This is a characteristic of yakie decoration.


「蝋箋(ろうせん)」 は、模様を彫った版木に具引紙を載せ、丸い牙などで何度も擦って、摩擦によって模様を刷り出す技法です。擦られた部分が蝋を塗ったかのように艶がでるので、実際には蝋を用いてはいないのですが、この名前があります。やはり平安時代から見られるもので、江戸時代にも復元的に用いられています。





books on the table

This article is from the free online

古書から読み解く日本の文化: 和本を彩る和紙の世界

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now