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The Art of Washi Paper in Japanese Rare Books

Keio University via FutureLearn


Deepen your understanding of rare books and Japanese culture

The papers inside books can last hundreds of years if cared for correctly.

This course will look at the history of papers used inside Japanese rare books, and in other cultures across the world.

You’ll learn about the materials and technologies used to produce Japanese papers, particularly the use of traditional washi paper.

You’ll understand the crafting process used to create Japanese rare books, including the use of design and decoration techniques.

You’ll find out how to identify the different types and varieties of papers used in Japanese rare books.

The Japanese version of this course is available.

This course is aimed at anyone interested in Japanese rare books and papers. It may be of particular interest to librarians, bookshop professionals, paper conservators, researchers and designers.

The course makes use of a number of visual resources which may unfortunately make some of the activities not accessible to learners with a visual impairment. Course videos are provided in Japanese with English subtitles.

This course can also be studied alongside two companion courses, Japanese Culture Through Rare Books and Sino-Japanese Interactions Through Rare Books.


  • Knowing Washi Paper
    • What is paper?
    • Many washi papers
    • Making washi paper
    • Origins and diffusion of paper
    • Summary of Week 1
  • Exploring Washi Paper
    • History of book manufacturing and restoration
    • Making books
    • Book restoration: Japan
    • Book restoration: Outside Japan
    • Examining paper
    • Summary of Week 2
  • Beauty of Washi paper in Japanese Rare Books
    • Introduction to Week 3
    • Coloring techniques
    • Decoration techniques
    • Techniques Using Mineral Materials
    • Other decoration techniques
    • The art of Japanese Rare Books
    • Summary of the Course

Taught by

Takahiro Sasaki



4.8 rating at FutureLearn based on 107 ratings

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