Sugihara Washipaper Inc. Opens Gallery to Explore New Possibilities for Echizen Washi
Japanese paper or washi is produced in many parts of the country, but Echizen’s washi industry is one of the oldest, dating back 1500 years. Sugihara Washipaper Inc. was founded during the Meiji period (1868–1912), when Echizen’s washi artisans were at their peak, producing paper praised as the best in the nation. In the Taisho Era (1912–1926), Sugihara Washipaper Inc. opened a Tokyo store in Kobuna-cho, Nihombashi, that supplied washi to the emperor. Today, the company continues to push the boundaries of the medium, with products like “ul washi” (washi with a layer of urushi lacquer) and “chigitte meishi” (sheets of “tearable” washi for printing business cards) as well as wallpaper and other items for interiors.
On February 24, 2018, Sugihara Washipaper Inc. opened a gallery in Echizen city designed to bring washi to the world. The gallery is housed in a renovated kura storehouse built in 1917, and its beams and pillars are just as impressive, even beautiful, as they were a century ago. “This kura is still in its youth,” says architect Soichi Mizutani, who oversaw the space’s transformation. “I listened to what the building itself wanted, and planned the renovation with an eye on the future, a hundred years from now. I hope that it becomes an asset for the region.” With this combination of respect for the past and thought for the future, the gallery itself seems to embody the washi displayed in it. Inside the space, visitors can see the raw materials used in washi and inspect a gallery of Sugihara Washipaper Inc.’s creations over the years, and plans are in place for future collaborations such as washi and art, washi and music, and more.
The roomy gallery space projects a sense of comfort and calm, allowing visitors to absorb themselves in both the long tradition of washi production and the current—and future—possibilities for the medium in combination with the essence of contemporary art and interior design.
Sugihara Washipaper Inc. Washi Gallery
Address: 17-2 Furo-cho, Echizen, Fukui
Hours: 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., fourth Saturday of every month
Note: Visits by appointment only. Please contact Sugihara Washipaper Inc. in advance
Telephone: +81 (0)778-42-0032