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.