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Edo Karakami
(Hand-Made Patterned Paper for Interiors)

35 Edo Karakami (Hand-Made Patterned Paper for Interiors)
Main Areas of Manufacture
Edogawa Ward, Nerima Ward, Bunkyo Ward
Designation/Certification Dates
August 20th, 1992 (Tokyo Certification)
May 13th, 1999 (National Certification)
Traditional Technologies and Techniques
There are three techniques used by the karakami craftsman:
  1. Hikizome (brush dyeing):
    • Iro-gubiki (undercoat application):
      A brush that has been soaked in pigment is drawn across the paper.
    • Bokashizome (shade dyeing):
      A single brush that includes color which has been gradated by water is  drawn across the paper to create a shading effect.
    • Chojihiki (striped-pattern dyeing):
      A brush with bristles intermittently removed to achieve a comb-like effect is used to create choji (stripe) patterns on the surface of the paper.
  2. Application of mica (kirabiki) through hand-rubbing:
    Although mica is sometimes applied simply when rubbed in by hand, in most cases pigment or gold/silver paint is applied in two layers. Following rubbing in by hand, the paper is stretched out and dosa (a protective "sizing" glaze) is applied to the surface.
  3. Mica pattern application using a woodblock:
    Mica and gofun (crushed seashells) are passed through a screen membrane onto a pattern-carved woodblock, and paper is then placed over the woodblock and rubbed gently. Gold/silver flakes are then sprinkled over the paper that has had paste applied to it, and after drying, the excess flakes are removed and a dosa glaze is applied to the surface of the paper.
There are five techniques used by the craftsman who applies decorative powders:
  1. Haku-chirashi (flake sprinkling):
    A special tube-shaped tool used for sprinkling flakes (a tube made of bamboo with strings stretched over the end), and a tool similar to chopsticks called hakuhashi are skillfully utilized to sprinkle gold /silver flakes over the surface of the paper.
  2. Sunago-maki (sunago powder sprinkling):
    Flakes reduced to a fine powder are inserted into a special tube-shaped tool (a tube made of bamboo with a fine mesh of copper wires over the end). The powder is repeatedly sprinkled over the surface by shaking the tube.
  3. Deibiki (paint application):
    Gold/Silver paint is applied to one end of a brush, and then the brush is drawn across the paper lengthwise along a ruler with one side of the brush elevated.
  4. Migakidashi (pattern rubbing):
    A pre-patterned woodblock is placed below washi (traditional Japanese paper) that has undergone the deibiki process. The painted portions of the paper are then rubbed from above using a boar's tusk. This causes the painted portions to physically rise up.
  5. Picture painting/drawing:
    A traditional nihonga (Japanese painting) or sumi-e (ink painting) is added for decorative effect.
There are two techniques used by the craftsman who does cotton printing (calico printing):
Print-type textile dyeing:
  1. Monochrome printing:
    Pattern paper treated with astringent persimmon juice is placed on top of washi (traditional Japanese paper) and pigment and/or dye is used to print designs.
  2. Multicolor printing:
    A number of sheets of pattern paper treated with astringent persimmon juice (5 to 7 sheets) are used to print colors one at a time until the intended design is complete.
Traditionally Used Raw Materials
Washi (traditional Japanese paper), textiles, mica, gofun (crushed seashells), pigments, dosa (sizing glaze), nikawasui paste (glue), gold flakes, adhesives (funori seaweed glue, shofunori wheat starch paste and konnyaku glue)
History and Characteristics

Edo Karakami is patterned traditional Japanese paper that is affixed to fusuma sliding doors and folding screens, etc., for decorative purposes. Woodblock printing using pre-patterned blocks, Ise-Katagami stencil printing, hikizome brush dyeing, hand-sprinkling of sunago decorative powders, and a wide range of other techniques are employed when making Edo Karakami.

Karakami patterned paper was introduced from China to Japan during the Heian Period (approx. 794-1185) and Japanese craftsmen subsequently imitated Chinese karakami using washi (traditional Japanese paper) as a base. Karakami was mainly produced early on in Kyoto as paper for writing waka (classical Japanese poetry).

During Japan's medieval period, people began to use karakami for decorating fusuma, hanging scrolls and the like, and during the Edo Period (1603-1868) many karakami craftsmen in Edo began to make products that could be used in such decorative roles.

In contrast to Kyo Karakami (Kyoto-style karakami), which focuses almost exclusively on woodblock printing, Edo Karakami is unique in its use of woodblock printing as a base along with print-type textile dyeing using patterned paper, brushwork and a variety of other techniques.

Many Edo Karakami works in the past were free-spirited and stylish, reflecting the tastes of the samurai classes and townspeople. Although some works were damaged by war or fire, craftsmen restored them on each occasion. Thus, Edo Karakami continues to provide both color and a sense of repose in people's lives even today.

Contact Details
Manufacturing Area
Cooperative Name
Edo Karakami Cooperative Association
AddressTokyo Matsuya Showroom, 6-1-3 Higashi-ueno, Taito Ward, 110-0015
Telephone No.03 (3842) 3785
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