One of my very favourite places to visit in Tokyo is the Ozu Washi shop, near Mitsukoshi-mae station - well not so near really, because the first time I tried to go there I got very lost! However, after asking for directions in a department store, where I could be sure to find someone who spoke English, I did manage to locate it and what a treat it turned out to be. As it is forbidden to take photographs in the shop - here is a photo of the brochure.
As I entered the building, in the foyer, there was a papermaking demonstration and it was fascinating to watch the very deft movements of the skilled papermaker. However, once I entered the main shop I really did feel like a child in a sweetie shop. It was light and bright with natural wooden fittings and just filled with the most beautiful handmade papers imaginable in every hue and so many wonderful patterns that it made my head spin! It was almost impossible to choose which to take home with me and which I should just savour and enjoy in the shop - so much so that I was there for almost 4 hours and it hardly felt like any time at all to me! Here are some of the papers I purchased.
The brochure states that “Japanese washi paper is distinguished by the three qualities of strength, charm and warmth and these qualities are imbued by the spirit of the numerous people who have sustained the over thirteen-hundred-year history of handmade Japanese paper” - and it did seem to me that being in that place and handling such beautiful handmade paper really was a sensual and a spiritual experience.
I should also mention that in addition to the shop they also have a Washi experience studio, where you can make some washi yourself (which I have not yet done - maybe next time ...), there is also a gallery with beautiful exhibits and a museum area showing the long history of the shop (established in 1653) and its papers. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Tokyo don’t miss the opportunity to see some of the most amazingly beautiful paper in the world. Here you will find a map, together with a little information in English and the Japanese web site has some nice photos of papers and the papermaking process.