Hatano Wataru, new horizons for Kurotani washi
Japanese traditional paper “washi” (wa meaning Japanese and shi paper) is appreciated by artists and individuals worldwide. WASAKU artist Hatano Wataru came to Kurotani (Japan’s heart of washi production) back in 1996 and started his training to become a washi manufacturer.
Today, he is a recognised washi craftsman and runs his own washi production company with an innovative and future oriented approach. Hatano aims to take the great quality of the washi paper to new grounds adding innovation to the traditional techniques : “The tradition has been passed down thus far, and it is our responsibility to bring it to the next level. I used to think that tradition preservation just need hard work, but after having been engaged in this business for 10 years, I realize that there is more to it. We have to be passionate about what washi is, and how we can bring innovations to it, and that is what I am doing now.”
Using the beauty of washi, Hatano and his team experiment blending washi material with furniture (e.g. tabletops), wallpaper, flooring etc. and has held exhibitions in Japan and overseas.
Making washi is a process with many steps as you can see in Hatano’s image below. Kozo (Mulberry) is used in most of the washi made today. The kozo stalks are cut and bundled. Next they are steamed in wooden barrels to be able to remove the dark bark. The white, inner fibers are washed to take away any impurities, left to dry and thereafter they are boiled. Now comes the important phase of beating the kozo fibers turning them in to paper pulp.
Next, “neri” (glutinous vegetable material) and water are added and using a bamboo screen and wooden frame, the mixture is moved back and fort across the mold to form the desired sheet. The sheets are then dried, pressed and finally bundled up ready to use.
Hatano Wataru’s washi is made in the traditional size (490 mm x 390 mm), but he is also experimenting with big sizes and with mixing small amounts of soil into the washi, changing its colour and making it more resistant. And, in this way also making washi a desirable construction material. Wasaku is looking forward to seeing and promoting innovative collaborations by washi craftsmen like Hatano with interior designers, carpenters, stage designers, etc. Please, find samples of Hatano’s products in here on Wasaku and don’t hesitate to contact us for more information about Hatano’s work.