Tosa traditional Japanese paper Photo:Kochi Prefecture

Tosa traditional Japanese paper Tosa washi

A brilliant world that has a history of over 1000 years
Skills produced by a combination of nature and craftsmanship


What is Tosa traditional Japanese paper ?

Tosa Washi is a kind of Japanese paper made in Tosa City and around Ino-cho in Kochi Prefecture.
In the past, it was used as a receptacle for wallets or medicine or as a paper lantern. Now it has a wide range of uses, such as for paper collages on fusuma or packaging for confectionary. Furthermore, it is a highly evaluated paper, not only in Japan but also in other countries, for its role in Japanese bookmaking and in modifications made to paintings.
The special characteristics of Tosa Washi are that there are many different kinds of paper and that it is thin and strong compared to other Washi paper. The handmade paper, such as Tosa Tengujyoshi, that is only 0.03mm thick, is not seen anywhere else in the world. The thinness and strength is created by the paper mulberry and the beautiful flowing waters of the Niyodogawa that grace the Tosa area. It can actually be said that in this case nature is producing handicrafts.
The production of many types of Japanese paper that originate in various areas in Japan has reduced. However, 300 kinds of Tosa Washi continue to be produced even now.


There are various explanations about the history of Tosa Washi and, although it is not clear, there is a theory that Ki no Tsurayuki was influential in conveying information about the paper from the year 930 (for a period of 8 years). This is because Ki no Tsurayuki was also known as one of the Hyakunin Isshu poets (one hundred classical Japanese poems by one hundred poets) of the Heian period and when he was appointed as the provincial governor of Tosa, he encouraged the paper production industry. At the very least it is known that Tosa Washi is a traditional handicraft that has a history of over 1000 years. And in the Heian period it was used to wrap articles presented to the imperial family and from this time onwards documents remain providing evidence that it was known as a high quality Japanese paper made in the Tosa region. At the time, Japanese paper, sometimes together with shells, was considered precious by the aristocracy as something to be enjoyed during their leisure time.
And with the transformations that each era underwent, the applications for the paper also diversified, and it was used in the kimono of samurai and dolls and in han bills (monetary notes used by the clans), for example. And from the Edo period, it was viewed as an important specialty product that was used for presentations to the shogunate and was also under protection by the Tosa clan. Its traditional role as a specialty product, mainly in the Ino-cho and Tosa city region, has been passed down even to the present day.

General Production Process

Tosa traditional Japanese paper - General Production Process

Where to Buy & More Information

Inocho Paper Museum

See other Traditional Japanese paper

See items made in Kochi