The Infinity of Pure Whiteness

White karagami of kamisoe.




White is the colour of purity. It is achromatic and yet possesses many different shades. When two shades of white meet, they create nihility and indefiniteness. Kado Ko is a karagami artisan in Kyoto. Using the technique of woodblock printing, Kado prints pure white patterns on pure white Japanese paper. These karagamis made by Kado are used as wallpaper, folding screen, writing paper and envelope. An infinite imagery is unearthed together when you unfold the barrenness borne by Kado’s paper.

Woodblock printing originates in China, therefore printed-paper created by this technique is known as karagami (paper from Tang Dynasty) in Japanese. Upon graduating from a graphic design degree in San Francisco, Kado returned to his hometown in Kyoto. This was the time when he met the karagami artisan Karacho who inspired Kado to become a karagami himself. This acquaintance was the turning point when Kado started to learn to design patterns, and to learn about all the necessary techniques for creating karagami. From Karacho, Kado acquired the craftsmanship of colouring paper, and the knowledge about the distinctive characteristics of various kinds of paper. He finally started his own workshop Kamisoe in 2009.

Paper is an ever-changing material — humidity, sunshine, age of the paper — all of these elements can affect its capacity of absorbing dye, and of course, its final colour. There is a subtle difference in every piece of karagami even if they are printed by the same dye and same woodblock. Every artisan has to apply his or her experience in judging the best treatment according to the external conditions like weather. “Denser dye is used for printing fine lines; more diluted dye can be used for printing bigger sized patterns.” Kado Ko’s preference may or may not create the most beautiful paper. Beauty, after all, does not have a singular definition.