Until the start of the Meiji period about 20 farming families in Umeda made paper but
now only Mr. Hoshino does. "One household doesn't constitute an industry, does it? If
there were at least three households ... ", Mr. Hoshino, a seventh generation
paper-maker, seemed to joke.
Along with his father, Tomikichi (now deceased), Masutaroh was named a living cultural
treasure of the city in March, 1976. He says, "paper-making was probably brought to
this region by pilgrims from Umeda who passed through Nikko via Mt. Nemoto shrine on Mt.
In his grandfather Torakichi's time, about 2000 sheets of paper stamped with the house
number were produced each day. These days, in addition to traditional paper for sliding
screens, stationery items - colored paper, narrow strips for poetry, envelopes, postcards,
letter paper - are popular.
A special technique is used to make school diplomas. "I want to make interesting
yet tasteful paper - my paper", says Mr. Hoshino, who works with his wife, Mitsuko.
Last year, a teacher from the U.S., Barbara Cohen, came to them to study the art of making
Along with those who have moved to Umeda from elsewhere, such as ceramic artist Shin
Masuda, herb dyer Yojiroh Takezawa, carpenter Kazutaka Seki, and joiner Naoya Oosawa, the
Hoshinos are trying to come to terms with the depopulation in their valley region. One way
of doing this has been to start the Umeda Art Festival.
Held during the first week of August, it is a stylish event with jazz music where the
artists exhibit their work and those of invited authors and painters on the roadside and
at other venues.