SHIROISHI-WASHI

2019 March 16 - June 9

Since the Edo period, the city of Shiroishi in Miyagi prefecture and its environs have been known as a washi-producing center. Shiroishi washi flourished under the protection and patronage of the Lord of Shiroishi Castle, the Katakura clan, and was known as one of the “Three Whites of Shiroishi” (washi, umen noodles, kudzu). Because of the paper’s high strength and durability, it was used to make shifu, a woven paper textile, and kamiko, or paper clothing. So high was the quality of these products that the Date clan of Sendai presented them as gifts to the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Imperial Court.

Like washi at paper-making centers elsewhere, however, Shiroishi washi entered into a decline from the start of the Meiji period (1868). In 1940, Nobumitsu Katakura, the then lord of Shiroishi Castle; Chutaro Sato, a local kimono wholesaler; and Tadao Endo, a handmade paper craftsman, founded the Oshu Shiroishi Kyodo Kogei Kenkujo (Oshu Shiroishi local crafts research institute). The institute conducted surveys and research on Shiroishi’s traditional culture with the goal of reviving shifu weaving and the production of Shiroishi washi.

This exhibition, while focusing on shifu and kamiko, seeks to introduce the history of Shiroishi washi, its method of production and the activities of the Oshu Shiroishi Kyodo Kogei Kenkujo to restore once-lost traditions that have led to their preservation today.