An occasional newsletter about forthcoming books and events

July 2023

In this newsletter . . .

news about Washi memories

go to our homepage  go to our newsletter archive  visit our online shop


progress on
Washi memories

The story of the papermakers of Kamikawasaki in Fukushima prefecture by paper artist Eleanor Burkett

Publication launch in November 2023

read the previous news item on this title

read the next news item on this title

So far our newsletters about this important book have concentrated largely on the production process. It's high time for something about its author and the book itself, so I shall pass over here to Eleanor and leave news of the progress of printing to the end.

After the flurry of writing Washi Memories last year I have now had time to reflect on this unique book whilst Martyn has been printing the text. From small beginnings chatting with my translator, Migiwa Matsutani, on her visit to the UK in 2017, to a short visit to Japan in the Spring of 2019, this book has slowly taken shape and will shortly be on its way to be hand-bound at Ludlow Bookbinders. It seems entirely fitting that a book about the laborious process of making kozo paper by hand has been meticulously type-set and printed by hand and the volume, now in its final stages, will be a unique and lasting record of processes that are struggling to survive in modern times.

Papermaker Koichi Anzai, seen below preparing his papers for sending to the Press for the book, has been a generous collaborator from the start. His archive of black-and-white photographs from the 1950s, around which the book is based, show his father, mother, and grandparents, and other papermakers at work. They capture in detail an endangered craft, once so central to the way of life in his village Kamikawasaki, a unique practice I was privileged to watch in the 1980s.

A sense of the toil of making and the unique papermaking practices of this region are described in the words and dialect of papermakers past and present. The beauty of the natural resources in this corner of Fukushima in north-east Japan and the resilience of the papermaking farming community is evident in the feel of the handmade paper and in the rich photographic records. The fruit of many hands and minds, Washi Memories now takes on a life of its own.

A final word from the printer and a couple of shots to show how the printing has been going. The 5,000 sheets that will go into the edition of 150 copies have been folded and I shall shortly be gathering them to make up the sets to go for binding. They will go with sets of photographs, packs of the Japanese papers, spine labels, and the printed suminagashi papers for the cover paper


The eleven handmade papers included in the book are some of the last remaining sheets from this once thriving papermaking area. The individual samples that will go into each copy are also now ready.


click to see an index of our newsletters

Copyright Martyn Ould 2023