By Satoshi Hasegawa
In Japan, June is the month in which most areas of Japan experience the rainy season. The heavy rainfall continues for about one month. Because the humidity and temperature begin to rise, it becomes difficult to dry the papers. Because of this, my papermaking factory goes about papermaking in a very orderly way to best take advantage of this. Of course, this is not to say that you cannot create paper during the rainy season, but that the quality of the paper is greatly affected by the weather. If you try to continue to make paper during such weather, many of the papermaking processes become very difficult and end in failure. Because making paper is not the only work that must be done (for example: creating all the products that must be used in papermaking), one has to use the summer time to the best of one’s abilities not to waste time.
When the rainy season ends, the hot summer heat increases exponentially. When the heat and the sunlight are at their most high, it becomes the time to dry the papers. It is also the time to ensure that the drying boards are clean of any dirt so as not to sully the fibers of the paper. This sort of work is one of the biggest jobs in papermaking, but I suppose that many people do not even realize that. For us papermakers, it’s essential and common knowledge that we must accommodate mother nature’s schedule to create paper. We must continue to do everything in the same way that our predecessors have done for many generations.
In the end, papermaking is not just a matter of finishing up and completing the job, but of creating harmony between the environment and the job that must be done. This concept is, indeed, very Japanese. For some it may seem tiresome or like too much work, but the feeling of carrying on a traditional art as deep as papermaking is truly amazing.