Friday, November 28, 2014

Washi: Sekishu-banshi

Like washoku, UNESCO added washi (Japanese papers) to their list of intangible cultural heritage.

Here is a problem in reporting. It wasn't all the traditional Japanese papers being selected but only three kinds: Sekishu-banshi, Mino-shi, and Hosokawa-shi. So it should say three washi instead of washi. I smell the problem in the leadership, which tried to make it sound all washi were selected. I think the problem the government had was that Sekishu-banshi was already selected in 2009 by UNESCO. I let you imagine the scene how they handled the problem when other two paper people claimed to be a part of the UNESCO list, too. I guess they didn't think ahead enough and probably didn't have a sound process to apply for the UNESCO's list.  If they did, they didn't need to reapply for it.

"Wa" means Japanese and shi, papers. Many hans(samurai domains) proudly created their own papers but only few survived for financial reason. This article explains the difference among those selected, and it seems Sekishu-banshi comes to top in quality and technique and the natural resources that are available in Iwami(Sekishu's other name). Yay! My ancestors belonged to Hamada han that created and developed the paper. Iwas's pink letter I introduced here and in my blog before was perhaps written on a Sekishu-banshi. Iwa is my great great grandmother.

Congratulation to the people of Hamada! Your washi paper is number one!


ZACL said...

To a foreigner, this all sounds terribly complicated Keiko.

My question would be, just how knowledgeable were the Unesco people about the 'expertise' they used in selecting special forms of heritage?

If understanding the myriad of communicating glyphs is as complex as you suggest, perhaps UNESCO did quite well to select what was chosen. It has certainly pleased you; I would be happy too. I am very happy for you. :)

keiko amano said...

Thank you, ZACL, for adding your comment. Nowadays, I live in Facebook, so to speak.

Yes, this is very complicated. At first, more than a few years ago, I had no idea what was going on. The decision making process and influencing UNESCO for their decision is the thing I'm disturved with.