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Japan's 'washi' paper in Unesco's Intangible Cultural Heritage List

IANS  |  Tokyo 

Unesco has added the Japanese traditional handmade paper called "washi" to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which will likely help create more international awareness about the time-honoured craft as well as aid the historical industry's production and exports.

According to Unesco, the specific products registered are Hosokawa-gami, washi from Saitama prefecture, Honmino-gami from Gifu prefecture and Sekishubanshi from Shimane prefecture, Xinhua reported.

It is in these prefectures that the craftspeople, with their trade passed down from generation to generation, adhere strictly to the original traditional techniques to produce the special paper by hand and only use the fibres from paper mulberry.

Known as "kozogami", the washi made from paper mulberry is widely known for its durability, and has an appearance closer to that of cloth rather than other more delicate washi, such as those crafted from the fibres of gampi tree bark, mitsumata shrubs, or even those made from bamboo, hemp, rice or wheat.

Such is the sturdiness of the kozogami washi that it retains its original durability when treated to become water resistant, separating it, in part, from other washi.

The government last year decided to seek registration with Unesco for all three products, with the proposal accepted by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's Intergovernmental Committee during a meeting in Paris Wednesday, Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs said Thursday.

Japan has seen 22 successful Intangible Cultural Heritage registrations, including one for"washoku", the traditional food and eating culture of Japan.

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First Published: Thu, November 27 2014. 14:10 IST