Kurashiki, Japan: The Birthplace Of Washi Tape | CoolJapan

Washi tape is the perfect souvenir from Japan, combining the best of Japanese traditional craft methods, the country's love for aesthetics, and the Japanese's strict attention to detail into a single, beautiful roll of paper masking tape. While you can find these tapes all over Japan and around the world today, it all started in the city of Kurashiki.

Washi Tape From Kurashiki, JapanWashi tape is used in scrapbooking and home decor. Photo by Emile contributor/CC BY-SA 4.0

Washi tape was first made in an industrial factory in Kurashiki known as Kamoi Kakoshi. Opened in 1923, the factory first produced flypaper before progressing onto industrial masking tapes. In the mid-2000s, upon learning that their customers had started using their industrial tapes for creative crafting, it inspired them to add more colours and designs to their range and ultimately launch the consumer line masking tape mt in 2008.

Hanami season in KurashikiHanami is one of the most beautiful times to visit Kurashiki

Fans of mt tape can pay a pilgrimage to the Kamoi Kakoshi factory to see how the tape is made, and even to buy limited edition tapes. Note, however, that factory tours happen only once a year, for around a week in March or April where numbers are very limited. You need to apply online when applications open about a month before, then pray you can be chosen through the ticket lottery.

Rickshaws at Kurashiki

Washi tape has even found its way to rickshaws

But even if you don’t manage to book a spot, mt tape is abundant all over the town of Kurashiki, particularly in the shops of Kurashiki’s most picturesque spot in the Bikan Historical Quarter, a preserved stretch that takes you back to Japan’s Edo period (1603 to 1868). You can find many old rice warehouses and kominka, traditional houses in a distinctive black and white brick pattern. Take a small boat ride along the canal lined with weeping willows to admire the view, or take a guided tour around the area on a rickshaw pulled by sturdy men.

Kurashiki Binkan Quarter Boat Ride

Take a boat ride down the canal in Kurashiki’s Bikan Historical quarter

If the designs of mt tape have put art on your mind, make sure to check out the nearby private Ohara Art Museum, built in 1930 and Japan’s first western art museum. Don’t be surprised to see works by names like Picasso, El Greco and Kadinsky in this museum. Also worth a visit is the Kurashiki Museum of Folkcraft housed in a converted storehouse and showcasing art in a more accessible form through craftworks and everyday objects.

Kurashiki is found in Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture

  1. 1.Kurashiki Bikan District
  2. 2.Ohara Art Museum
  3. 3. Kurashiki Museum of Folkcraft
  4. 4.Kamoi Kakoshi Factory
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