“Paper Nao” is a shop that specializes in Japanese and Asian handmade paper. In their two-story building, there are 30 to 40 thousand pieces of Japanese paper (“washi”), foreign paper, and antique paper. Mr. Naoaki Sakamoto who is the owner of this shop and also a papermaking craftsman himself, has travelled all over the world to visit the product makers in person for his selection of papers. He claims that visiting the production sites and seeing the environment with his own eyes is an important process in selecting papers.
On the first floor, there are white papers collected from craftsmen all over the country. Among them are gauze-like thin sheets of paper used to repair books. On the second floor, there are papers dyed with natural materials such as safflower, persimmon tannin, indigo, ink, and soil. They are all the works of Mr. Sakamoto himself. Presently, he dyes his papers at his studios in Hokkaido, Niigata, and Kochi. Each paper has an original look to it, for each and every one of them is dyed by hand. Some of them have been dyed abroad in countries such as Ireland and Taiwan. However flat the world of paper may be, his work makes us feel the air and climate of each country. They are highly valued in Japan as well as overseas.
During the Showa era, shoji screens and paper sliding doors were commonly seen in Japanese houses, but now, handmade papers are the thing of the past. However, they are being revalued by architects, craftsmen, and product designers, in the use of domestic art form. You could have wall and ceiling papers with humidity regulating function, or use these papers to spice up your lighting, table, and other furniture. Please visit Paper Nao and enjoy the deep and fascinating world of paper.
May 2017 Text: Ryoko Kuraishi Photo: Yasuo Yamaguchi