November 21, 2017. A brief 45 minute train ride from Tokushima, the Awagami Paper Factory is a wonderful place to delve into the world Japanese washi. In case you missed my earlier posts, I have recently used Unryu Premio, an Awagami Inkjet Paper, for my recent show at the Gas Station Arts Centre in Winnipeg (on display until mid-January). It was an absolute pleasure to visit the place where my paper was made.
We are reluctant to leave the luxurious digs of Kuroshio Honsen. After all, here we are enjoying our Japanese breakfast and, just outside our table-side window, rain pours down over scenic Kure Bay, reducing it to a sorry display of blue-greys. But there are 28 kilometres to cover and we know there’s a reward at the end of this day’s trek.
Rain is no longer our nemesis. It has become more of an unshakable partner. It may not have been invited to our adventure but it adds to the conversation. A ceaseless downpour accompanies us all day. In its shadowless light, bright flowers – yellows, pinks, reds, whites – glow against a backdrop of muted greens. Rain drops cling to the soft pink and white petals of magnolia blooms. Cherry blossoms, nearing the end of their brief spring performance, tumble to earth under the weight of the steady rain. Clusters of vivid red camellia florets carpet our royal procession along the henro-michi. (more…)
With our planned excursions to sakura-viewing locales foiled, we needed to fill our second scheduled day in Kochi with other activities. It was a rain-filled day, so museum visits seemed appropriate.
That morning, we headed off by commuter train to the nearby town of Ino, home of the Japanese Paper Museum. As far back as the early 1980s, I had taken papermaking courses and, later on, I had built several accordion books for my Walk Project using Japanese washi designed for inkjet printing. In fact, the paper I used was manufactured by Awagami Paper, located just outside Tokushima, right here on Shikoku. So the museum was very much a worthwhile visit, with enough English translation to adequately explain the Tosa paper making process. The visit included a hands-on paper making exercise. Both Gail and I walked away with handsome sets of postcard-sized paper…made by us.
The whims of nature threw a huge curve ball in the direction of my careful planning.
I had plotted our entire trip around Japan’s cherry blossom season. I had studied past years’ reports for the best time to see the sakura in full bloom. Flights were arranged so we would arrive here, in Kochi, exactly as the blossoms were at their peak. Plans were in place to take a train from here – the last place we could catch a train before the Henro-michi took us off into the wilderness – to cherry blossom hotspots like Tokushima and Matsayuma, or nearby Kagamino Park.