Japan Tour 2018 – Day 4

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 4 – We headed out this morning to visit Oguniwashi Papermaking Studio in the small village of Oguni. We were told we could visit anytime and to take a bus so we had a leisurely breakfast in our hotel room. At the station we discovered the next bus wasn’t for 2 1/2 hours. We decided to out fox that and to take a local train to a town on our map and then see if we could get a bus from there. This is what we found: a tiny station with no one in sight! There was nothing to do but start walking towards some buildings we saw in the distance. There was a little post office and we asked them to call a taxi. The cost of the ride was $33 but we were sure glad to get it.

This is the Oguniwashi Papermaking Studio which seemed to be run by 3 young people in their 20’s. They make small papers, postcards, note paper etc. I got hand made paper business cards which I’ll dye and print when I get home. I saved one I got years ago dyed with indigo that was distinctive. I can use a rubber stamp for the text. This place is out among lovely rice paddies I. The country!

The kozo plants were soft and wet when the workers scraped them to remove everything but the fibers for making the paper.

The day fibers were boiled here with steam coming out. There was a big stash of wood for the wood stove another part of the preparation process.

Here we saw the familiar process of actually making the paper. The tub has the slurry which might look like wet Kleenex particles thoroughly mixed in water. A tray is lowered into the slurry and jiggled thoroughly to disperse the fibers evenly. Then it is lifted up and the paper in the tray is transferred to a flat surface then sent to be dried on a metal surface with heat below. It takes skill to get the fibers evenly spread out. When you see handmade paper often you can see the fibers and the rough edges that are the edges of each sheet. It looks like back breaking work. Everyone there was young.

We were raced to the train station in a car to get to the train going home. We got there 3 minutes before the train was due. We scrambled to get our tickets from the machine and got on board. It’s a pretty remote place with few trains and even fewer busses. Here the woman is busily cutting out shapes in pieces of their paper to give us as gifts. We gave cards with photos of our work as our gifts while dashing along the rice fields.

Got back to the hotel with nothing else scheduled, ate lunch in our room and went out to find an ATM machine found at 7Eleven stores. I napped and Cathy went walking around the town of Nagaoka which was were our hotel was for three nights. Sent off our suitcases to meet us after two one night hotels coming up. The photo is of our dinner of special soba noodles the area is noted for.

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