The 'hosho' paper used in most traditional Japanese printmaking has a long history. It is made today in not just the same region of the country as it has been for centuries, but the same village. The centre of hosho production back during the days of Hiroshige and Hokusai was 'Imadate machi', and it still is, here at the beginning of the 21st century ...
The process of making hosho has changed a bit during the intervening years; much of the beating that separates the fibres of the raw kozo is now done by machine instead of by endless hours of hand pounding, but the main papermaking job - dipping and rocking the sheets one by one - is absolutely unchanged from the old days. Each one of these sheets of paper has been dipped by Mr. Yamaguchi, and is made 100% from natural 'kozo' (paper mulberry) fibre, supplied to him by Mr. Teruo Souma of Ibaragi Prefecture (It thus qualifies to be referred to as 'kizuki' hosho paper.) After the paper is finished, it is sent to Mr. Isami Misawa, a professional paper sizer, to be sized ready for use in woodblock printmaking.
Some stories from the newsletter section of Dave Bull's website introduce these three men, and show some photos of them working:
If you are still involved in your first experiments in printmaking, we don't really recommend that you use Yamaguchi-san's paper - it is expensive. But if you love the way that the colour in Japanese prints blends beautifully with the paper, and want to try to catch that effect in your prints, this is the paper you will need ...
The sheets are not trimmed, have four natural 'deckle' edges, are sized by hand, are medium in weight, and measure 41 cm by 53 cm.
The price is $8.75 per sheet (plus a 'flat-fee' shipping charge of $6.00, covering any quantity from one sheet to a hundred).