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Washi added to list of UNESCO intangible heritage items

Quoted from Japan Today


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Wednesday decided to include traditional Japanese handmade paper (“washi”) to its list of intangible cultural heritage items.

The decision was made during the 9th session of the intangible cultural heritage committee in Paris.

“Washi” is practised in three communities in Japan. The paper is made from fibers of the paper mulberry and used for letter writing and books, but also to make paper screens, room dividers and sliding doors. Families and their employees work under masters who have inherited the techniques from their parents. The communities play roles in keeping this craftsmanship viable, ranging from the cultivation of mulberry, training in the techniques and the creation of new washi products. 

A UNESCO representative said: “Handmade ‘washi’ paper has not only helped promote the continued cultivation of mulberry treas throughout Japan, but it has also ensured the longevity of traditional artistic techniques and cultural knowledge, allowing for an inter-connectivity between regional communities for generations.”

The varieties of “washi” paper admitted to the list were Sekishuban paper from Shimane Prefecture, Honmino paper from Gifu Prefecture and Hokosawa paper from Saitama Prefecture.