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Sesson Fans: A Cool Breath of Tradition

Elegant illustrations in ink on handmade washi paper characterize the Sesson fans that have been made in the town of Hitachi Ōta for generations. At the helm today is a woman in her nineties, the fourth generation of her family to make the fans, and the last of a long line of craftspeople.
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Under the Eye of the Snake: Beautiful, Durable Umbrellas Made of Mino “Washi”

For centuries, the town of Kanō in Gifu Prefecture has been producing elegant umbrellas known as Ja-no-me-gasa (snake’s eye umbrellas), made from bamboo and brightly colored washi paper. Despite their svelte, compact shape and light portability, these umbrellas are surprisingly durable and waterproof. For generations, they were a practical as well as eye-catching part of everyday life.
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Nishijima “Washi”: Transforming Old Fibers into Specialty Art Paper

Small-scale workshops making washi by hand could once be found all over Japan. But the arrival of modern machinery as the country opened to the West in the late nineteenth century led to a rapid decline in the number of traditional papermakers. The village of Nishijima in Minobe, Yamanashi Prefecture, is one of the few places that have remained faithful to the old ways and is today a leading center of washi production.
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The World of “Washi”: Paper that Lasts a Thousand Years

In 2014, “Washi, craftsmanship of traditional Japanese handmade paper,” was inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The art of making paper entered Japan around the seventh century, and the Shōsōin treasure house in Nara holds a family register written on domestically produced Minogami paper from the beginning of the eighth century. The history of washi therefore stretches back at least 1,300 years. Differences in climate and topography have since given rise to a wide variety of distinctive types of paper in different parts of the country.
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“Washi” (Japanese Paper)

Washi, or handmade Japanese paper, is still produced in every part of Japan. In 2014, UNESCO inscribed three of the most important washi traditions in its list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
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Timeline for October 2014

Three Japan-born researchers win the Nobel Prize in Physics, a Japanese journalist is indicted for defamation in Seoul, and two newly appointed female cabinet ministers resign. An overview of the key news stories for October 2014.
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Traditional Crafts in the Modern Day

The city of Sumida in Tokyo has a history of craftsmanship and light industry dating back to the seventeenth century. That influence remains strong even today. We look at a selection of the area’s shops, all of which have an original take on traditional techniques and crafts.
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Kita Toshiyuki: Designs for a Better Japan

Kita Toshiyuki is an award-winning product designer whose work fuses Japanese traditions with a contemporary, cosmopolitan sensibility. We talked to him about the characteristics of Japanese design and its potential to restore an ailing economy.
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