Nao Washi Paper Mill
Saga / 2023

A handmade washi paper mill that has operated for more than 300 years in the mountains of Nao, Saga Prefecture, has decided to relocate to a flat field at the foot of the mountains to avoid the risk of a recurrence of the landslides that have struck the area in recent years.

The entire process from growing the raw materials to turning them into paper is completed at this place. Kaji trees, the raw material, are grown in nearby fields, and clean water, which is needed in large quantities, is supplied from a well. The outdoor workspace, which occupies about half of the total area, is equipped with a water basin for soaking the raw materials and a steaming pot. Indoors, the materials are milled, made into paper, and dried.

Because the process of washi making requires a large amount of water, as was the case with the original mill, the lower part of the building had to be constructed so that it would not be damaged by water. The building is consisted of a wooden structure on top of a 1.2-meter-high reinforced concrete foundation. The wooden columns were attached to the sides of the foundation and bolted at two points to resist horizontal forces without load-bearing walls. The upper half of the wall becomes a row of windows overlooking the beautiful surrounding countryside.

Shortly after the building was completed, the washi craftsmen set up the familiar tools they had inherited from their predecessors, and it looked as if the paper mill had been there for a long time.



Category workspace
Location Saga, Kyushu
Client Nao Washi
Structural engeneer yasuhirokaneda STRUCTURE 
Contractor Kamiyama Kensetsu Co., Ltd.
Photography Benjamin Hosking