Karakami is a decorated Japanese paper that gets pasted onto sliding and folding screens.
Its history began in Heian Era (794 - 1185), originating from China.
It was an honor for us to be able to collaborate with a true “Dento-Kogei-Shi (Traditional Craftsman)”, Yukio Koizumi from the Koizumi Husuma Kakoujo to create the artwork exclusively for Crane&Turtle.
The Karakami uses various techniques to produce. From using woodblocks for woodblock-printing and creating Ise paper patterns, use of a brush to dye it, and a technique called Sunako hand sowing.
It originates from emulating Crest papers used in China but using Japanese papers instead.
Karakami became very popular in Kyoto as a medium for writing down lyrics for Japanese songs called Waka. It became the top medium for decoration of sliding doors and folding screens during the middle ages.
The Edo Karakami is uniquely distinguished from Kyo Karakami which focuses on woodblock printing only.
Edo Karakami uses paper patterns for printing and brushes to dye the papers, as well as using woodblocks.
The designs reflected a wide range of patrons; from Samurai class to commoners, people from all walks of life.
Hence, the techniques to create Edo Karakami also reflects diversity.
The technique has survived many years of tribulations; wars and fires.
But each time, it would be restored with the hands of craftsman passing it down for generations.
About Koizumi Husuma Kakoujo
The Koizumi artisans: 5 generations of technique and culture
Koizumi Husuma Kakoujo started in Kaei era (1848 - 1855) in the heart of Edo (currently Tokyo), founded by Shichigoro Koizumi. His Grandson Genjiro inherited the technique and business and passed them to his first son Tetsu. Now operated by Yukio Koizumi, who is a son of Tetsu Koizumi, and 2 of his sons. Yukio owns multiple awards and prizes including certified traditional craftsmen by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. His artwork can be seen in Japanese traditional buildings such as museums, temples, Japanese tea ceremony rooms.
Collaboration with Crane and Turtle
Oddly enough, we found them on Instagram and approached them with the idea of collaboration because we were very inspired by how they continue to embrace the ancient techniques from handmade natural pigment to handmade glue from seaweed to hand-carved printing wood. Nonetheless, the price is still reasonable because they would like to keep the “karakami” in the part of people’s life. As a matter of fact, “Dento Kogei” is for people, and it should be practically usable.
Hand printed Japanese paper has that unmistakeable ‘warmth’ a hand made thing has. The texture of the paper and the shine of the pigments are part of its many qualities that can be enjoyed throughout the years.
The fonts were designed by Mieko Murao (of Graphnetwork and Crane&Turtle), inspired by Japanese Tenugui (hand towel) patterns.