Naruko Paper Mill-continuous paper-making since the latter Edo Period.
In the countryside of Kiryū, Ōtsu in Shiga Prefecture since its establishment, passed down to its current and fourth-generation paper artisan, Tetsuro Naruko.
All the while remaining devoted to handmade paper, consistently made with gampi plant fiber as its base, picked from the neighboring mountains.
The paper industry in Ōmi (modern Shiga) dates back to the Tenpyō era of the Nara period, according to the “Register of Buddhist Sculptures” from the Shōsōin records. The manufacture of paper from gampi fiber in the countryside of Kiryū, Ōtsu began around the end of the 18th century. Families inside the prefecture and outside of Kiryū have been making paper since the Meiji Period. At its peak, the industry included 17 households in Kiryū and 42 in the entire prefecture. However, as the war intensified and western-style paper because popular, Naruko Paper Mill became the only house left in 1940.
During the war, most paper manufacturers were forced to supply paper to the military for things like blank forms and fire balloons. However, Naruko Paper Mill was designated an official purveyor to the Imperial Household Department in 1942, and so was allowed to devote itself to producing elegant, delicate paper.
Draft paper for poems, including colored paper and poem cards, to be used at the Imperial Court’s New Year’s poetry reading. So high was the value ascribed to Naruko Paper Mill’s gampi paper. Today we inherit those techniques, using new capabilities to challenge ourselves.
Furthermore, as paper for the restoration of artworks that are ancient nation treasures, like the Heike Nōkyō, Shigisan-egi, and Hōnen Shōnin Eden. As the paper for the Gendai Ningen Emaki (Picture Scroll of Modern Humanity), buried on the grounds of Osaka Castle during the 1970 Osaka World Fair, to be left for 5,000 years. Also as paper for restoration of cultural assets at the British Museum, etc. Naruko Paper Mill’s custom-made gampi paper plays a large role in cultural asset restoration domestically and internationally. Still, rather than consider these achievements and rest on our laurels, our entire staff pushes forward to develop new products and new possibilities for Japanese paper.
Our paper is produced in small batches. We handle the gampi fiber that makes up our paper with care at every stage. Our paper artisans put their hearts into making paper, one sheet at a time. Even during delivery, we pay the kind of meticulous attention to carefully packing our paper that distinguishes our workshop.
Paper with a velvety, lustrous texture. Strong and fine enough to stand the test of time, yet with a great sense of translucence. We plan to earnestly continue making gampi paper, called the “king of paper” through ancient and modern times.