Archives for posts with tag: origata design institute

Karafuneya ceased their letterpress printing operations in 2009 and no longer retains any of their letterpress equipment (yes, I asked!). However, the gallery (also a shop) still carries a fine selection of their original products as well as other innovative paper goods from some of my favorite places in Japan, including the Origata Design Institute.

Most paper specialty shops in Kyoto focus on traditional washi and designs, but if you want a taste of contemporary paper crafts and design, Karafuneya is a good place to start.

I couldn’t resist these paper plates by Wasara. Using pulp from sustainable resources such as bamboo, Wasara has created a line of elegant disposable dishware for your dining pleasure. They’re so beautiful I don’t even know if I could bear using them. You do, after all, have to chuck it once you’re done eating. (I can’t imagine what washing would reduce them to — a worthy experiment?) However, it seems very appropriate for a culture that appreciates the beauty of fleeting and ephemeral things.

I also picked up some envelopes made with original Karafuneya washi as well as some postcards created back during their letterpress days.

Many of the products displayed at Karafuneya are produced by the company Kami no Kousakujo (かみの工作所). Their mission is to take a sheet of paper and turn it into as many wonderful things as possible. Justine and Matt from Upon a Fold (the blog is a great read for art and paper lovers) recently visited the Kami no Kousakujo factory in Tokyo, and you can learn more about the company and see photographs from their visit here.

Justine has also recently written up a list of great paper places to visit in Kyoto. You can check out her recommendations here, featuring shops such as Uragu and Karacho.





Book arts is an expansive field, and practitioners of book arts, likewise, are attracted to more than just the book form. We rhapsodize over the qualities of paper and ardently admire well-executed printing of all sorts. And Japan is the perfect place for doing all these things! How many countries can boast both a Paper Museum and a Printing Museum right within its capital?

I have yet to visit the Paper Museum, but I did make it to the Printing Museum during my trip to Tokyo last month. It’s one of my favorite museums in the world! It’s one of the few places that showcases the development of printing on both sides of the Pacific, and there are lots of interactive exhibits that allow you to better understand the various printing processes. There is even a printing studio complete with movable type, printing presses, and experts to give you a how-to. What more could you ask of a printing museum?

And I finally made it to the Origata Design Institute. Tucked away on a corner of a residential block in Aoyama, you could easily walk right pass without giving it a second glance. Those lucky enough to enter its doors are in for a real treat though!

Origata Design Institute is revitalizing the tradition of paper wrapping through modern design. Wrapping has always been an art form in Japan, and Origata is taking it to new levels. Here are some photos of the shop and their offerings of envelopes, boxes, and more.


Of course I could not resist making a purchase. And I was delighted by how my purchase was wrapped up! So much, in fact, that I have yet to open it. The translucent paper still allows for a tantalizing glimpse of the items within, and for now, that is enough.

If you are in Tokyo, Origata Design Institute does offer classes. And if you can’t make it there, check out the books that they have published.