“Washi” traditional paper-making set to be tacked onto UNESCO list

a2Posted on The Asahi Shimbun on October 28, 2014

A craftsman makes washi paper at his workshop in Higashi-Chichibu,
Saitama Prefecture, on Oct. 28. (Hikaru Uchida)


Japan’s traditional art of “washi” paper-making is in line to be added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list, the U.N. organization announced on Oct. 28.

Dating back more than 1,000 years, the craft of making “tesuki washi” (traditional handmade paper) had been nominated for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization list by the Japanese government.

UNESCO said its subsidiary that examines candidates for cultural assets proposed that it register washi-making as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.

It is a virtual certainty for the Japanese craft to be selected as the Intergovernmental Committee, which decides on the registration, has never rejected the subsidiary body’s recommendations, according to the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

The UNESCO list covers traditions representing cultural diversity and human creativity in fields such as the performing arts, festivals, traditional crafts and social customs.

The newest selection will be the 23rd heritage to be selected from Japan, following the induction of “Washoku, traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese” in December 2013.

The government plans the new induction to include “sekishu-banshi” from Hamada, Shimane Prefecture, which is already registered as a UNESCO cultural heritage item; newly added “honmino-shi” from Mino, Gifu Prefecture; and “hosokawa-shi” from Ogawa and Higashi-Chichibu in Saitama Prefecture.

The official designation of traditional washi paper-making will be decided during the meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee, which will be held in Paris in November.

An artisan dries honmino-shi paper under the sun in Mino, Gifu Prefecture.
 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)