Japanese paper from all over Japan! My visit to Ozu Washi, a store in Nihonbashi, Tokyo operating since Edo period

Washi paper is one of Japan’s most fundamental products that has been used for various purposes since ancient times. It is made using fibers from the inner bark of the gampi tree, the mitsumata shrub (Edgeworthia chrysantha), or the paper mulberry (kōzo) bush.

Compared to western paper, individual fibres intertwine with one another for a long time, resulting in a strong paper and a unique texture. Recently, Japan’s traditional techniques of making handmade washi Honminoshi, Sekishubanshi and Hosokawashi have been officially added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

I went to Ozu Washi, a 360-years old store operating in Nihonbashi, Tokyo since the Edo period, to participate in a workshop on hand-making washi paper. The building itself is located next to the trees which serve as a material for the Japanese washi.

Ozu Washi is conveniently located in a 2-minute walk from JR Shin-Nihonbashi Station, a 7-minute walk from Mitsukoshimae Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line and Hanzomon Line, and a 5-minute walk from Kodenmacho Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line.

What is Ozu Washi?

Ozu Washi is a cultural center where you can discover the beauty of washi and Japanese traditions. First floor is occupied by the store selling washi-related products and a handmade washi experience workshop corner, second has a gallery and cultural classroom, and third hosts the Ozu historical museum displaying Ozu Washi-related historical materials, and the exhibition for the handmade washi from various regions in Japan.

The store on the 1st floor has a large selection of washi from all over Japan ranging from high-quality to daily items. There is a wide variety of washi products, you can purchase not only washi but unique products such as book covers, coloring books, eyeglass cloth and mask cases made from washi. There are also many envelopes and stationary.

If you want to buy something to remind yourself of your visit, there’s plenty of colors and patterns for the large-sized washi. These days, it is incredibly popular for a home decoration.

On top of that, since washi is closely related to Japanese calligraphy, there are many calligraphy materials.

Goshuin stamps, a proof that you have visited a specific temple or shrine, have been trending in Japan over the last few years. Ozu Washi store sells hand-made kits and goshuin books designed to collect these important seals made from washi! It's a great idea to visit shrines all over Japan with the goshuin book purchased in Nihonbashi, Tokyo.

Various exhibitions are held in the gallery on the 2nd floor, and many lectures on the arts such as Japanese calligraphy and ink painting are held in the cultural class. (Reservation required)

Third floor is occupied by the Ozu History Museum displaying old documents about the history of Ozu Washi since establishing a paper business. It is free to enter. The exhibitions show the lifestyle of merchants in the Edo period as portrayed on the washi used at that time.

Next to the museum is the Ozu Washi Museum exhibiting various artworks made from washi. You can even see a loudspeaker made from washi!

It is worth checking other products made from washi, such as dresses of various thickness and transparency.

Read this article to learn about hands-on experience at the handmade washi workshop on the 1st floor.

Summary

If you ever visit Tokyo, you should definitely stop by Ozu Washi to learn about the history of washi, experience making it yourself and shop till you drop. This is an amazing washi museum!

Many of the washi products sold at Ozu Washi are light, easy to carry, reasonably priced and make great souvenirs. Don’t hesitate to stop by if you are in Nihonbashi, Tokyo!

Official HP: https://www.ozuwashi.net/