Engelbert Kaempfer: The History of Japan, London 1727

Internet Edition by Wolfgang Michel, Kyushu University, Fukuoka-City, Japan. © Nov.1997



II. Of the Paper manufactures of the Japanese.


It is well known, that there were many ways of writing anciently in use among the inhabitants of these Western parts of the world, and their neighbours the Egyptians, Syrians, Jews and other nations, all equally perplex'd and laborious, attended with too many tedious difficulties, not to be overcome but by an uncommon degree of patience and application. They had not as yet the use of that light and easy instrument, the Pen, but wrote with an iron Stylus, or a Pencil artfully made. Nor did they write upon Paper, which is now of so extensive and universal an use, but upon various sorts of tables and plates, made, not without a great deal of industry and labour, of skins, membranes, barks of trees, leaves, of brass, lead and other metals, of wax and other substances. Amidst these many difficulties of writing, the greatest obstacles to the preservation of history, and the improvement of learning, Providence permitted the art of making Paper out of old rags to be found out. Some bring this invention back to the times of Alexander the Great, though it seems upon very slight grounds, it being scarce credible, that so useful an art should have lain so long concealed, and continued in a state of infancy for so many ages: Besides, it was no sooner brought to any tolerable degree of perfection, and made known to mankind, but it brought all the more ancient ways of writing, that upon parchment only excepted, quickly out of fashion, which were readily exchanged against one so much more easy and commodious. The Eastern nations, which live nearest to Europe, I mean, the Turks, Arabians, Persians, the inhabitants of the lesser Tartary, and the subjects of the Great Mogul, have thankfully received and admitted among them, so curious and useful an invention, with this difference only, that instead of old linnen rags they make use of others of wool and cotton, which yield a Paper of equal, if not superior goodness. The black nations of Asia, lying farther South, retain'd the way of writing used by their ancestors, which was on palm leaves of different sorts, whereon they still write, or rather curiously engrave their characters with an iron stylus, and tying the several leaves together to small wooden sticks, bind them up after this manner into volumes. In the extremities of the East, (I mean in China and Japan) eminent for an earlier invention of most useful arts and sciences, the usefulness of Paper, both for writing and printing, and the way of making it, were known, and used with success, from remotest antiquity. To explain the Chinese way of making Paper would be foreign to my present purpose. I willingly leave this Province to so many European fathers who live there upon the spot, and have all imaginable opportunities to do it more accurately. My design is only to

give a short, but clear and full account of the way of making Paper in use among the Japanese, a nation less known and less frequented, intended chiefly for the instruction and satisfaction of those, who would be willing to try the same experiment upon some barks of our European trees.


Way of making Paper.

The Paper is made in Japan of the bark of the Morus Papyrifera Sativa, or true Paper-tree, after the following manner. Every year, when the leaves are fallen off, or in the tenth Japanese month, which commonly answers to our December, the young shoots, which are very fat, are cut off into three foot long, or shorter sticks, and put together in bundles to be afterwards boiled with water and ashes. If they should grow dry before they can be boil'd, they must be first soak'd in common water for about four and twenty hours, and then boil'd. These bundles, or faggots, are tied close together, and put upright into a large and spacious kettle, which must be well cover'd, and then they are boil'd, till the bark shrinks so far, as to let about half an inch of the wood appear naked at the top. When the sticks have been all sufficiently boilĠd, they are taken out of the water and exposed to the air, till they grow cold, then they are slit open lengthways for the bark to be taken off, which being done, the wood is thrown away as useless, but the bark dried, and carefully preserved, as being the substance out of which they are in time to make their Paper, by letting it undergo a farther preparation, consisting in cleansing it anew, and afterwards picking out the better from the worse. In order to this, it is soak'd in water for three or four hours, and being grown soft, the blackish skin which covers it, is scraped off, together with the green surface of what remains, which is done with a knife, which they call Kaadsi Kusaggi, that is, a Kaadsi Razor. At the same time also the stronger bark, which is of full a year's growth, is separated from the thinner, which cover'd the younger branches, the former yielding the best and whitest Paper, the latter only a dark and indifferent sort. If there is any bark of more than a year's growth mix'd with the rest, it is likewise pick'd out and laid aside, as yielding a coarser and worse sort of Paper. All gross, knotty particles, and whatever else looks in the least faulty and discolour'd, is pick'd out at the same time, to be kept with the last coarse matter.
After the bark hath been sufficiently cleansed and prepared, and sorted according to its differing degrees of goodness, it must be boiled in clear lye. As soon as it comes to boil, and all the while they keep it on the fire, they are perpetually stirring it with a strong reed, pouring from time to time so much fresh lye in, as is necessary to quench the evaporation, and to supply what hath been already lost by it. This boiling must be continued till the matter is grown so thin, that being but slightly touched with the finger, it will dissolve and separate into flocks and fibres. Their lye is made of any sort of ashes in the following manner: Two pieces of wood are laid across over a tub, and cover'd with straw, on which they

lay wet ashes, and then pour boiling hot water upon it, which as it runs through the straw into the tub underneath, is imbued with the saline particles of the ashes, and makes what they call lye.
After the boiling of the bark, as above described, follows the washing thereof. This is a business of no small consequence in Paper-making, and must be managed with great judgment and attention. If it hath not been washed long enough, the Paper will be strong indeed, and of a good body, but coarse, and of little value. If on the contrary, the washing hath been continued too long, it will afford, 'tis true, a whiter Paper, but too greasy, blotting and unfit for writing. This part of Paper-making therefore, if any, must be managed with great care and judgment, so as to keep to a middle degree, and to avoid either extreme. They wash it in a river, putting the bark into a sort of a fan or sieve, which will let the water run through, and stirring it continually with the hands and arms, till it comes to be diluted into a delicate, soft wool, or down. For the finer sort of Paper the washing must be repeated, but the bark put in a piece of linnen instead of a sieve, because the longer the washing is continued, the more the bark is divided, and would come at last to be so thin and minute, that it would run out through the holes of the sieve, and be lost. At the same time also, what hard knots or flocks, and other heterogeneous useless particles remain, must be carefully pick'd out, and put up with a coarser sort of bark for worse Paper. The bark having been sufficiently and thoroughly washed, is put upon a thick smooth wooden table, in order to its being beat with sticks of the hard Kusnoki wood, which is commonly done by two or three people, until it is wrought fine enough, and becomes withal so thin as to resemble a pulp of soak'd Paper, which being put into water, will dissolve and disperse like meal.
The bark being thus prepared, is put into a narrow tub, with the fat slimy infusion of rice, and the infusion of the Oreni root, which is likewise very slimy and mucous. These three things being put together, must be stirred with a thin, clean reed, till they are throughly mixed in an uniform liquid substance of a good consistence. This succeeds better in a narrow tub. But afterwards the mixture is put into a larger one, call'd in their language Fine, which is not unlike those made use of in our Paper-mills. Out of this tub the leaves are taken off, one by one, on proper patterns, made of bulrushes, instead of brass wire, and called Mijs. Nothing remains now but a proper management in drying of them. In order to this, they are laid up in heaps upon a table cover'd with a double mat, and a small piece of reed, (which they call Kamakura, that is, a cushion) is put between every leave, which standing out a little way serves in time to lift them up conveniently, and take them off singly. Every heap is covered with a small plank or board of the same shape and size with the Paper, on which are laid weights, first indeed small ones, lest the leaves, being then as yet very wet and tender, should be pressed together into one lump, but by degrees more and heavier, to press and squeeze out all the

water. The next day the weights are taken off, the leaves lifted up one by one, by the help of the small stick abovementioned, and with the palm of the hand clapt to long rough planks made for this purpose, which they will easily stick to, because of the little humidity still remaining. After this manner they are exposed to the sun, and when full dry, taken off, laid up in heaps, pared round, and so kept for use, or sale. I took notice that the infusion of rice, with a gentle friction, is necessary for this operation, because of its white colour, and a certain clammy fatness, which at once gives the Paper a good consistence, and pleasing whiteness. The simple infusion of riceflower would not do it, because it wants that clamminess, which however is a very necessary quality. The infusion, I speak of, is made in an unglazed earthen pot, wherein the rice grains are soak'd in water, and the pot afterwards shaken, gently at first, but stronger by degrees. At last fresh cold water is poured upon it, and the whole percolated through a piece of linnen. The remainder must undergo the same operation again, fresh water being put to it, and this is repeated so long as there is any clamminess remaining in the rice. The Japanese rice is by much the best for this purpose, as being the whitest and fattest sort growing in Asia.
The infusion of the Oreni root is made after the following manner. The root pounded, or cut small, is put into fresh water, which in one night's time turns mucilaginous, and becomes fit for use, after it hath been strained through a piece of linnen. The different seasons of the year require a different quantity of this infusion to be mixed with the rest. They say, the whole art depends almost entirely upon this. In the summer, when the heat of the air dissolves the jelly, and makes it more fluid, a greater quantity is required, and less in proportion in the winter, and in cold weather. Too much of this infusion mixed with the other ingredients, will make the Paper thinner in proportion, too little on the contrary will make it thick and parched. Therefore a middle quantity is required to make a good paper and of an eaual thickness. However, upon taking out a few leaves, they can easily see, whether they have put too much or too little of it. Instead of the Oreni root, which sometimes, chiefly at the beginning of the summer, grows very scarce, the Paper-makers make use of a creeping shrub called Sane Kadsura, the leaves whereof yield a mucilage in great plenty, though not altogether so good for this purpose as the mucilage of the abovementioned Oreni root. I have also mentioned the Juncus Sativus, which is cultivated in Japan with great care and industry. It grows tall, thin, and strong. The Japanese make sails of it, and very fine mats to cover their floors.
It hath been observed above, that the leaves when they are fresh taken off from their patterns, are laid up in heaps, on a Table covered with two mats. These two mats must be of a different fabrick; one, which lies lowermost, is coarser, but the other, which lies uppermost, thinner, made of thin slender bulrushes, which must not be twisted too close one to

another, to let the water run through with ease, and very thin, not to leave any impressions upon the paper.
Coarser Paper.

A coarser sort of Paper, proper to wrap up goods, and for several other uses, is made of the bark of the Kadse Kadsura shrub, after the method above described. The Japanese Paper is very tight and strong, and will bear being twisted into ropes. A thick strong sort of Paper is sold at Syriga, (one of the greatest towns in Japan, and the capital of the province of that name) which is very neatly painted, and folded up, so much in a piece as there is wanting for a suit. It looks so like silken or woollen stuffs, that it might be easily mistook for them. A thin neat sort of Paper, which hath a yellowish cast, is made in China and Tunquin of cotton and bambous. The Siamites make their Paper of the bark of the Pliokkloi tree. They have two sorts of it, one black and another white, both very coarse, rude and simple, as they themselves are. They fold it up into books, much after the same manner as fans are folded, and write on both sides, not indeed with a pencil in imitation of those more polite nations, who live farther East, but with a rude stylus made of clay. Thus far the description of the way of making Paper in the East, which the (late) learned Becmannus was so desirous to know, and so earnestly intreated travellers to enquire into, mistaken however in that he thought, and seem'd to be persuaded, that it was made of cotton, whereas it evidently appears by this account, that all the nations beyond the Ganges make it of barks of trees and shrubs. The other Asiatick nations on this side the Ganges, the black inhabitants of the more Southern parts excepted, make their Paper of old rags of cotton stuff, and their method differs in nothing from ours in Europe, but that it is not altogether so intricate, and that the instruments, they make use of, are grosser.


Description of the proper Pagants for Paper manufactures.

To compleat the account I proposed to give of the Paper manfactures in Japan, I have here added the description and figures of the Plants and Trees, whereof it is made.


Papyrus fructu Mori celsae; sive Morus sativa foliis urticae mortuae, cortice Papyrifera.
From a strong, branched, lignous root rises a streight, thick, equal Trunk, very much branched out, cover'd with a fat, firm, clammy, chesnut-colour'd bark, rough without, and smooth on the inside, where it adheres to the wood, which is loose and brittle, with a large moist pith.

The branches and twigs are very fat, cover'd with a small down, or wool, green, inclining to a dark purple. They are channel'd till the pith groweth, and quickly decay when broke off. The twigs are irregularly beset with leaves, at two or three inches distance, or more, standing on slender, hairy, two inch long footstalks, of a dark purple cast, and the bigness of a straw. The leaves difer much in shape and size, being sometimes divided in three, sometimes in five serrated, narrow, unequally deep and unequally divided lobes, resembling in substance, shape and size the leaves of the Urtica mortua, being flat, thin, a little rough, dark green on one side, and of a lighter green, inclining to white, on the other. They dry quickly, when broke off, as do all other parts of this tree. Strong single fat nerves (leaving a remarkable hollow on the opposite side) run from the bottom of the leaves towards the top, and send out many transverse ribs, almost parallel to one another, which send out others still smaller, turn'd in towards the edges. In June and July come forth the fruits, (Tab. XL.a) ex alis foliorum, upon the extremities of the twigs, standing on short foot stalks, round, somewhat larger than a pea, surrounded with long purple hairs, composed of Acini, first of a greenish colour, which turns to a black purple when ripe: The fruit is full of a sweetish juice. I did not observe whether or no there are any Juli that come before the fruit. This tree is cultivated for the use and improvement of the Paper manufactures on hills and mountains. The young, or two foot long twigs, are cut off and planted in the ground at moderate distances, about the tenth month, which soon take root, and the upper part, which stood out of the ground, quickly drying, they send forth many fine young shoots, which are fittest to be cut for use towards the latter end of the year, when they are come to be about a fathom and a half long, and about the thickness of an arm of a middle-sized man. There is also a wild sort of Kaadsi, or Paper-tree, growing on desart and uncultivated mountains, but it is scarce, and otherwise not very proper for Papermaking, and therefore never used.


Papyrus procumbens lactescens folio longo lanceato, cortice chartaceo.
Tab. XL: Fig.2.

This Shrub hath a thick, single, long, yellowish, white, streight, hard root, cover'd with a fat, smooth, fleshy, sweetish bark, intermix'd with streight fibres. The branches are many, creeping, pretty long, single, naked, extended and flexible, with a very large pith, and little wood. Very thin, single, brown, and towards the extremities hairy twigs rise up from the branches, to which the leaves are set alternatively at an [p.27] inch distance from each other, more or less, standing on very small, thin footstalks, not unlike, as to their shape, to the top of a lance, as growing broader from a small beginning, and ending into a long, narrow, sharp point. They are of different and uncertain sizes, the lowest being sometimes a span long, and two inches broad, whilst the uppermost are scarce a quarter so big. They resemble the leaves of the True Paper-tree in substance, colour and surface, and are deep and equally serrated, with thin ribs on the back, the largest of which running from the bottom of the leaf towards the point, divides it into two parts, and send off many transverse ribs, which are cross'd again by smaller veins. I can give no account of the flowers and fruit, not having been able to see them.


Alcea Radice viscosa, flore Ephemero, magno, puniceo. (Tab. XLI.) From a white, fit, fleshy root, with many fibres, and full of a viscous juice, transparent like crystal, rises a stem about a fathom high, commonly single and annual, (the new shoots, if it happens to stand beyond a year, coming forth ex alis foliorum) with a loose, fungous, white pith, full of a gluish juice. The stem is beset at irregular distances with leaves, standing on four or five inches long, carinated, light purple, commonly hollow, fleshy and juiciy footstalks. The leaves are not unlike the leaves of the Alcea Matthioli, roundish about a span in diameter, com posed of seven lobes, divided by deep, but unequal sinus's, serrated on the edges, excepting between the sinus's, the serrae being large, few and something distant from each other. The leaves are composed of a fleshy substance, full of juice, rugged to the aspect, hard to the touch, of a dark green colour, having strong nerves, running along the middle of each lobe towards the extremities, and many rigid brittle, transverse ribs, bent backwards towards the edge of the leaf. The flowers stand at the extremities of the stem, and twigs on an inch and a half long, thick, somewhat hairy foot-stalk, somewhat broader, where it ends into the calyx. The flowers are supported by a pentapetalous calyx, or composed of five (half an inch long), greenish petala, or leaves, with dark purple lines, and hairy round the edge. The flowers are pentapetalous also, of a light purple, inclining to white, with the umbilicus, of a deeper red purple, very large, and a hand broad, or broader, composed of large round, striated leaves, with a narrow short fleshy beginning, where they are set to the stylus, which is an inch long, fat, smooth, and soft, covered with a flesh-coloured, yellowish powder, laid on, as it were, in tubercles. The stylus ends in five caruncles, covered with a red down, and set round in the form of a globe. The flowers last only one day, and wither at night, they are succeeded a few days after by a pentagonous and five
[p.28] capsular turbinated seed-vessel two inches long, an inch and a half broad, membranaceous, thick, growing black, when ripe, and opening its five capsulas, wherein are contained an uncertain number (from ten to fifteen in each) of dark brown rough seeds, smaller than pepper-corns, somewhat compress'd and falling off easily.

FUTOKADSURA, sive SANEKADSURA, by others called, ORENIKADSURA, because of its virtues and uses.

Frutex viscosus procumbens folio Telephii vulgaris aemulo, fructu racemoso. (Tab. XLII) This is a small shrub, with many branches irregularly spread, about the thickness of one's finger, divided into twigs without any order, rough, warty, gaping, and yellow. It is covered with a thick fleshy, viscous bark, composed of a few thin fibres extended lengthways. A very little of this bark chewed fills the mouth with a mucilaginous substance. On small, cannulated, purple footstalks stand single thick leaves, without any order, being not unlike the leaves of the Telephium vulgare, growing broader from a small beginning, and ending in a point, being two, three, and four inches long, one inch broad about the middle, or broader, somewhat hard, though fat, sometimes bent backwards, and undulated, smooth, and of a light green colour, with a few sharp prickles, or serrae, round the edges, with one thin middle rib, and a few very small scarce visible transverse ones. From an inch and a half long, green, thin footstalks hangs down the fruit, being a bunch, or grape, composed of many (sometimes thirty or forty) berries, set to a roundish body, as to a basis. These berries are altogether like the berries of grapes, turning purple in the winter when ripe, containing a thick, almost insipid juice within a thin membrane. Within each berry lie two seeds, in shape resembling a kidney, somewhat compress'd where they are join'd together, about the bigness of common vinegrapeseeds, covered with a thin greyish membrane, within of a hard whitish substance, very sharp, rank and disagreeable to the taste. The berries are set round a roundish, or oval body, of a very white, fleshy, fungous, soft substance, about an inch in diameter, not unlike a large strawberry, reddish and striated like a net, the marks of the berries remaining between the interstices. [p.29]

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