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The Paper Industry in Hidaka Village

 

Most of the villagers in Hidaka have engaged in agriculture since ancient times, but due to frequent water damage and disaster, at least half of the population was involved in paper manufacturing as a side business.  Much of what was produced was a standard-size calligraphy paper, but with the changing of times the demand for this paper fell, and eventually many kinds and sizes of papers were produced.

Around 1884, Paper TENGU was first produced in Hidaka Village.  Since then, the number of manufacturers in Hidaka producing this paper increased, and the technology improved dramatically.  In addition, the production of papers used for mimeographs and other kinds of tissue papers targeting foreign markets also increased.

For a period of years the handmade paper industry took a blow due to the rise of machine-made paper, and many manufacturers folded.  However, due to quality concerns the demand for handmade paper increased once again, and around 1915 many of the businesses that had previously quit started up again.  The heyday of handmade paper in Hidaka Village was from around 1912 until the late 1920's, when over five hundred families were involved in paper production.

Due to hard times for the washi industry and the proliferation of western paper, these family-run paper factories started their decline in the late 1920' s. Also due to the proliferation of machine-made paper, the number of agricultural families involved in handmade paper as a side business also declined, and around 1955, these disappeared almost entirely.  Thus, handmade paper in Hidaka Village began to fade into history.

On the other hand, machine-made paper prospered until around 1955, but then the paper industry suddenly collapsed, and by 1965 machine-made paper making factories were almost entirely shut down.  Only the machine-made Tosa Japanese Paper TENGU remained as a kind of specialty product, and its tradition continues today.

Our company had its beginnings in 1949 when Paper TENGU papermaking families living in Hidaka Village came together and established an export Paper TENGU cooperative.  For an industry that had previously made their paper one sheet at at time, cost-efficiency became a mounting problem, and the demand for rolled paper grew.

After years of research and hard work, the era of handmade paper evolved into machine-made paper in 1969, when the first “Kesui-shiki tanmo shoshiki" papermaking machine was introduced in our factory.

 

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