Grandfather’s Envelopes

Works of Paper





Kouzaki Hiromu, born in the year Meiji 35, had always been a hard-working construction worker until retiring at the age of 71. Since then, he mostly kept himself busy by watching television. When he reached 80 years old, he diverted his attention from the television to paper craft and started making Japanese standard-size envelopes from any kinds of paper lying around, which could be magazines or newspaper clippings, tissue box, used journals or even bank transfer notes. “Doing handicraft is a good exercise for old people” is the belief that kept him ceaselessly making envelops day after day; he even asked his family to bring him paper and tools when being hospitalized.

Kouzaki Hiromu passed away at the age of 95. When his old flat was about to be demolished in 2005, his granddaughter Fujii Sakuko came across 5,000 envelopes handmade by her grandpa in a drawer while sorting through his belongings. As a child, Fujii always saw her grandpa preoccupied with his paper-craft tasks but never really paid much attention to it. She never treated his works seriously back then. It was only until this occasion did she discover how delicate her grandpa’s craft actually is — the envelope made from tissue box still keeps the original dotted line for easy tearing intact, the remade kraft paper bag carefully displays the zigzag edge as a special feature, thick paper got laboriously thinned down by hand, overly fragile pieces of paper were made intact by being glued together.

Kouzaki found these envelopes absolutely adorable. Apart from reflecting her grandpa’s full devotion to his hobby, it also demonstrates his pure insistence on aesthetics. She later organized and edited his works into this photobook named Grandfather’s Envelopes. Flipping through the pages, you will be moved by his similarly shaped envelopes that possess distinct charm.