of Our Wa-shitsu Japanese Tatami Room, Part 2
lights with the washi roll curtains on our windows
mountain air up in Yatsugatake, Uminokuchi (Nagano Prefecture)
in late August feels quite chilly in the morning and the evening.
The severe heat wave in the month of July, caused the crops in
my vegetable garden to grow fast, and the corn and eda-mame (green
soybean) were beginning to become too ripe and turn hard. The
potatoes wait to be picked before leaving the mountain vacation
home for Tokyo, at the end of the summer...
those who read last August, in Sidestory 009 (LINK),
the episode about covering our wa-shitsu (Japanese tatami room)
in our mountain house, with washi handmade paper, I wish to share
my latest decorating touch to the room.
summer, 4 expert kyouj-ya (wall paper hangers) from Tokyo redecorated
the four and a half tatami room walls and the ceiling with the
"fukuro-bari" (pouch pasting) method. What was left to do was
to find the right curtains for the windows. Of course what would
be natural will be a traditional shoji sliding screens. I knew
they would fit well, but I wanted to try something new and different.
It took me a full year to find the suitable and unique curtain.
The new creation now dresses my windows blending perfectly well
with the white washi walls.
process in making of the roll curtain
had a strong desire to make shibu-gami curtains and it came true
at last! (Shibu-gami is handmade mulberry paper with a coating
of persimmon tannin). Akira Murasato, hyogu-shi (Japanese hanging
scroll mounter, screen maker), in Morioka City was the person
who made my wish come true.
a piece of very thin silk cloth used for kake-jiku (Japanese hanging
scrolls) is pasted onto the washi sheets. Next the washi is rolled
around a piece of bamboo. By firmly rolling and wrapping the washi
around the bamboo, fine creases are formed on the washi paper.
The rolled and crinkled washi is then immersed into a basin with
kaki-shibu (persimmon tannin) dye. Once the washi is dry, it is
unrolled from the bamboo, and with a brush once again treated
with persimmon tannin. Then each sheet is glued together at the
edges to make the desired curtain size.
rail rods are attached to the curtain on its both ends. The technique
in rolling up the curtain is very simple. When you pull the string
hung from the wooden upper rod, the string causes the rod to turn
and pull up the curtain. This is the part that Murakami had the
most trouble completing, without using ready-made gadgets. The
part was actually handmade by his friend living just outside of
Morioka City, Ryohei Kido, a woodworker. I was afraid the washi
curtain edges will be damaged when operating the rolling strings,
but once you get the knack you can easily roll the curtain up
and down very smoothly. By wrapping the string onto the wooden
piece, the curtain will remain fixed.
afternoon sunset in the end of August up in the mountains, 1500
meters above sea level turn into very warm autumn colors. The
warm red sunrays penetrate through the brownish kaki-shibu paper
and shadows of the leaves dance on the curtain.
magazine editor friend who stayed with us this summer, remarked
that she slept exceptionally well in the room. I hope the serenity
and warmth that washi has, made my guest feel cozy, like a little
silkworm in a cocoon.
must give my immense gratitude to the two craftsmen, who eagerly
took charge of this troublesome project. I believe, with a little
adjustment, they can commercialize this one-of-a-kind washi roll
curtain. Is there anyone interested in having one in their house?
2001 Jomon-sha Inc, All rights reserved.