Japan Made is on the world stage.
I reported by Twitter and Instagram the other day, Certificates of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic are made of MINO TESUKI WASHI (hand-made Japanese paper) from MINO City, Gifu prefecture.
The ingredients are DAIGO NASU KOZO grown in DAIGO cho, Ibaragi prefecture.
Haruma visited the area for his assignment of a magazine, "+ act " March issue.
The Olympic committee requested to produce 17600 pieces of paper in 2019.
Mr. Suzuki, the head of MINO TESUKI WASHI association worked with 17 factories, 40 artisans, working feverishly by doing three shifts.
On the eighteenth of July, I visited Mr. Saito, the chairman of DAIGO NASU KOZO preservation society in DAIGO cho.
I had the honor to touch the same paper used for the Olympics. It was just exciting.
There were many issues with the Olympics because of the pandemic, whether to host them, bring spectators or not. All of the problems gave us uneasy feelings.
However, Mr. Saito told me he was really glad it happened.
The weight of his words made me realized.
There are so many people involving with this event in the background and the circumstances would be affected tremendously.
I changed the view of how I watch the games.
Let me talk about these special papers.
There are three varieties of MINO papers.
HON MINO WASHI
( important intangible cultural property, UNESCO intangible cultural heritage )
MINO TESUKI WASHI
( traditional craft by Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry)
( machine-made paper)
All of the MINO papers are produced near the Itadori river, a tributary of the beautiful Niagara river in MINO city.
It is one of three well-known Japanese papers.
Eichizen washi in Fukui prefecture,
Tosa washi in Kochi prefecture.
HON MINO WASHI, their technique became Japanese important intangible cultural property in 1969, UNESCO intangible cultural heritage in 2014.
MINO TESUKI WASHI is used for the back of mounting, Shoji screen, art paper, and art restoration. Pretty famous in the world.
I had a chance to talk to Mr. Saito about the ingredients of washi (Japanese paper).
DAIGO NASU KOZO is a plant in the Moraceae family.
Their fibers are really thin and short. So papers become glossy.
They can grow up to 3 meters and they need to be trimmed often.
After they are grown without any branches, they cut and steam trees.
When they finish steaming, outer layers are peeled with small knives and use inside. Dry them under the sun for three days. Final products are sent to MINO city to be MINO TESUKI WASHI.
Most of the works are done repeatedly during the Winter.
It is easier than said. The works are tremendously harsh.
Their hard work supports the creation of special papers.
They also face finding a successor because of intense labor.
Haruma had written about this precious MINO TESUKI WASHI which is gaining the spotlight at the Olympics.
It is truly wonderful.
I wish all the athletes have a chance to read his book, Japan Made.
When I visited DAIGO cho early Summer, I felt nostalgic.
They have mountains and rivers.
The air was cool and clear. The smell of the soil, mountains made me feel at home. Perhaps it is similar to the place I grew up in Miyazaki.
Such a nice season to visit although DAIGO is the hottest and the coldest area in Ibaragi prefecture.
It was the dead of Winter when Haruma came. He couldn't see the greenery. Standing at the same place I thought he must have loved this place.
It was December 26, 2019, when he came.
His hair was still short.
Around the time he finished filming, Two weeks, Gift of Fire, Tengaramon, Brave.
Haruma and his crew came with two separate cars.
Mr.Saito didn't even realize Haruma got out of the car and he was standing next to him so quietly.
When Haruma was standing side by side with Mr. Saito, he felt how tall Haruma is.
On the other hand, he didn't feel the same when they sat down to talk facing him.
Haruma was just like a guy next door.
He was polite, humble, and works hard. He took his time to listen.
Before he signed an autograph on the WASHI paper, he thought about it, practiced writing many times on the back of scratch papers.
During the time he visited, he had a chance to peel the skin of the trees with a knife. Usually, this task is a pretty difficult thing to do.
Haruma picked up very fast and did it beautifully.
Mr.Saito and his wife were surprised and impressed by how handy he was.
He remembers Haruma taking pictures under the giant pot.
Haruma and his crew stayed for about two hours.
Mr.Saito thought he would meet Haruma again for sure.
The look on his sad face was striking.
At the same time, he made me think.
「 There will be no actor like Haruma 」
Mr. Saito said.
「 Indeed 」
That was all I could say with a faint smile.
I also had a chance to talk to Mr.Nakazawa.
He was the one to introduce Mr. and Mrs. Saito.
「 Haruma was different from childhood. He was the shining star of hope, all of us in this prefecture was backing him up, cheering for him. 」
His beloved Inagaki.
This prefecture has a nice Japan Made.
DAIGO NASU KOZO.
I want to come back to this place again.
Next time I would like to help and work among them.
Not just once, but continuously.
I want to protect all the Japan Made Haruma adored.
I truly do.
I feel Haruma is already back to DAIGO cho.
A wonderful place.
MiuraHaruma Cheering team