Echizen, Fukui Prefecture, Japan
Echizen-Washi PapermakingEchizen City has been the center for making washi—traditional Japanese paper—for centuries. Washi is created using natural elements such as the mitsumata plant and gampa bark and is used for everything from calligraphy paper to ceremonial gifts. Washi is also more durable than paper made from wood pulp, so it’s not uncommon to see it used as wallpaper and decorative paper doors. If you’re in Echizen and into washi, you’re in luck. More than 80 papermaking factories are concentrated in one small valley and welcome visitors. Watch masters at work at the Udatsu Paper and Craft Museum or take a workshop and give it a try yourself. Washi is also an ideal gift to bring friends back home, as it won’t weigh down your bags.