Oguni Washi

– Beautiful Snow White from the snow county –

Article No. g/m2 size(cm) Image
HI-OGU-001 41 g/m2 29 x 39 Hiroaki_Imai Oguni_SB_2
HI-OGU-002 81 g/m2 65 x 99 Hiroaki_Imai Oguni_kikuban
* Material: 100% Kozo (Niigata Pref.)


 The train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country.“
This is the first sentence of the novel „Snow Country (雪国 Yukiguni)“ (1937) by the Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, the first Japanese author to receive the award. The story sets in Niigata- northern west part of Japan.
Oguni Washi (or Oguni gami) is a traditional paper produced in the Oguni area, Nagaoka city of Niigata prefecture. Oguni is a agricultural area and paper making was for many a side job during the winter when everything was covered  deep in snow and agriculture could not be done.
The history of Oguniwashi started at least since the Edo period and in early Meji era more than 8000000 pieces paper per year have been produced.
But as with other workshops, due to the modernization of the paper industry, business has continued to decrease gradually and in 2006 there are only 2 workshops left for Oguniwashi.
Paper making in Oguni coexists in a particular way with nature. One typical process is called „snow bleaching“- After scraping the kozo-bark, the white bark may be further whitened by laying it out on top of the snow and exposing it to the sun, on a sunny winter day. This process makes use of ultraviolet rays to lighten the natural color of the bark. It is thought that laying the bark out on the top of the snow, the steam that is produced as the snow melts and the reflection of the sun on the snow combines to increase the whitening effect.
Kangure is also another method which is possible unique in snow country.
Normally, once the paper is made, water is pressed from the paper and the sheets are dried the following day. However, in Niigata there is very little sun in winter and the paper can not be dried outside.The traditional method here is to bury the post in snow as a natural refrigerator until spring. Buried in snow, the post is kept at a low temperature but it doesn’t freeze.
The sun drying for Oguniwashi is done in March, while there is still snow on the ground. The post that was buried in the snow( kangure) is dug out and pressed and the sheets are then brushed onto boards and lined up the sun.By doing so, both direct sunlight and reflections off of the snow hit the paper. The ultra violet rays diminish the paper’s greenish color and make it a beautiful white.
Enduring the long winter, Snow White appears in front of us.


Mr. Hiroaki Imai