This section introduces the history and the climate of the village Echizen washi.
It has a long history of 1,500 years and enshrines the originate goddess of papermaking “Kawakami Gozen”
Beginning of papermaking and the goddess of papermaking
When reading the long history of Echizen washi, there is the goddess of papermaking “Kawakami Gozen” as the origin and now she is revered by the paper industry all over Japan.
The legend has it that about 1,500 years ago, when Ohdo ruled the area of Echizen.
A young woman appeared upstream along the Okamoto River in Echizen and taught papermaking skills to the local villagers.
The villagers were delighted and asked for her name, she simply replied, "I live upstream on the Okamoto River”. And she mysteriously disappeared.
Soon after, she was given the name “Kawakami Gozen”, and has since been worshiped at Okamoto shrine as a goddess of papermaking.
And then we have inherited paper making as our profession.
Fame of torinoko paper and Hosho paper
Torinoko paper and Hosho paper put Echizen washi on the map.
Torinoko;Ancient Japanese color name, which means the eggshells of wild birds.
Torinoko paper is pale yellowish-brown paper made from Gampi. It was made all over Japan and considered heavily used high quality paper for calligraphy. In Edo period, Torinoko from Echizen got praised as king of paper or the highest quality paper.
Thick paper made from Kozo was used for official documents by the nobly, the samurai class, temples and shrines. After that it was given the name Hosho and then heavily used for Migyosho-shi, one of the forms of important official documents in Japan. It was made in Echizen and other area, but Hosho from Echizen had the highest quality and enhance their fame.
The Birthplace of of banknotes
Echizen washi is also famous for paper of banknote.
In Edo period, each regions had used its own paper currency. Among of all those came to be used in the Fukui clan especially from an early period.
In Meiji era, they made papers for the first national common banknotes from Japan.
Soon after, paper for banknotes was replaced by imported paper, but the imported paper was weak. Therefore, when the Paper Money Bureau was established, papermaker from Echizen were involved in the development of new paper.
At the end of the Taisho era, the National Printing Bureau made a branch shrine to worship the goddess of papermaking "Kawakami Gozen"
Since then, she has become a goddess revered by the paper industry throughout Japan as the guardian deity of Japan's paper industry.
The goddess of papermaking, Okamoto and Otaki shrine
Okamoto shrine enshrine the goddess of papermaking Kawakami Gozen and revered by the paper industry throughout Japan.
The two shrines are consisted Oku no in, or an inner sanctuary and Satomiya, Oku no in is built near the top of Daitoku mountain and Satomiya is at the bottom of the mountain. At oku no in, there are two shrine are built side by side. At Satomiya the two enshrine together.
Shrine building of Satomiya was reconstructed with the best of the late Edo period shrine buildings. The complex structure of the shrine buildings, which combines the worship hall and the main shrine, and the decorative sculptures that decorate the shrine are distinctive.
Festival of Kami to kami, the goddess and paper
Festival for Okamoto shrine and Otaki shrine is unique festival following old traditional ceremonies.
The festival is held in the whole village of Echizen washi. It can be said that this is the origin of Japanese festivals, where faith and occupation are deeply connected.
We go up the mountain with winding mountain path to the sacred Oku no in and welcome the goddess with Mikoshi, or a portable shrine.
After welcoming the goddess to Satomiya, villagers are filled with joy and the village is in a festival mood.