Charting Japan’s craft papermakers: a 4-map bilingual set.

Paper-Making Places in Present-Day Japan. East & West.

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SKU: NL-01172 Categories: ,
Cartographer(s): Mingeikan
Date: 1960
Place: Tokyo
Dimensions: Circa: 66 x 50.5 cm (26 x 20 in)
Condition Rating: VG+
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These four maps from 1960 comprise two sets of two maps, one in English and one in Japanese, produced by the Mingeikwan (Mingeikan, Japan Folk Crafts Museum 日本民藝館) in Tokyo. They highlight different towns and cities where traditional paper-making craftspeople operated, along with the prefecture where those towns and cities were located (although the style and shape of geographic features vary between the English and Japanese versions, they cover the same territory, showing the prefectures of western and eastern Japan, respectively). These paper-makers were producers of washi (和紙), paper made by hand (rather than machinery), a time-intensive and arduous process, using local resources, including tree bark but also shrubs and bushes, especially mitsumata and mulberry. The maps themselves appear to have been made using just such materials and processes.

Historically, the resilient paper produced using these methods was utilized for a variety of purposes, including arts such as calligraphy, origami, and ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Like other traditional handicrafts in Japan, modern industry displaced most of the pre-existing craftsmen in the Meiji period (1868 – 1912), and more were lost through the upheavals of World War II and the American Occupation, but a combination of cultural nostalgia, tourism, and government support allowed a portion of them to survive, even to the present. The heritage of craft paper-making can also be seen in Japan’s international reputation for high-quality stationery.



The Mingeikan (Japan Folk Crafts Museum 日本民藝館) is a museum located in Meguro Ward, Tokyo. It was conceived in 1926 by the artist and philosopher Yanagi Sōetsu (柳宗悦) and the potter Hamada Shōji (濱田庄司) who sought to preserve traditional Japanese art and handicrafts (mingei, 民藝) in the face of industrialization and Westernization. 

Condition Description

Minor creasing at lower right, some inkstaining in margins; near fine.