Whether giving or receiving, gifts always warm my heart. The surprise and delight of a shared moment is one I always cherish, even more than the contents inside. Over the years, I have come to appreciate more and more another aspect of the process: the presentation. Whether for a birthday, a holiday, or just because, the wrapping of a gift communicates the giver’s care and affection for the recipient.
In Japan, gifts have been wrapped with washi paper for 1,500 years. The word itself comes from wa, meaning Japanese, and shi, meaning paper. Washi is traditionally used for official documents, drawings and even Japan’s national currency. At Tatcha, we have used various patterns of washi on our packaging over the years, but recently became inspired to create our own — not only because of its significance in Japanese culture but because of the tradition of gift-giving here at Tatcha.
In Japan, gifts are a way to show honor and respect for others, and are always carefully and thoughtfully presented. At Tatcha, our greatest delight is giving our customers a beautiful experience and exceptional skincare.
Made in Tokyo by a family-owned store specializing in washi, our paper is designed in a traditional pattern to representing longevity and good fortune to the recipient. Fans representing our connection to generations of geisha dance among clouds reflecting ancient Japanese motifs, while the famed Golden Gate Bridge peeks from behind in homage to our San Francisco roots. Many elements of Tatcha and the special igredients in our collection can be seen, including camellia flowers, sheaves of rice bran and our mon, or crest.
The process to make the soft, deceptively strong paper is an intricate and demanding one. Fibers from three kinds of bark are used: kozo, a wood prized for its strength; mitsumata, a plant known for its soft, delicate grace, and gampi, a rich, noble branch that creates an exquisite natural sheen. Together, these three fibers lend beauty, strength and flexibility to the finished sheets.
After soaking, the long inner fibers of the bark are separated, stretched, pounded, and combined with a liquid hibiscus root mixture to create a paste. Using graceful figure-eight movements, the artisan stretches the paste thinly by hand and lays it on a bamboo mesh screen to dry.
Once dried, the paper is hand-painted with colorful patterns, often with a symbolic meaning—cranes, fans, and chrysanthemums are popular features.
We are so delighted to have this beautiful paper, and delighted to feature it as part of several holiday sets this year, including our special tumblers. It also will continue to serve as our standard gift-wrapping option year-round to add a special touch and meaning to your gifts—whatever the occasion or time of year.
Chief Treasure Hunter
published December 2014Design, Beauty Secrets
Photo 1: A close up of Tatcha's custom washi paper, featuring our mon, moongrass and other motifs that represnt our heritage. Photos by Miki Chisaki.
Photo 2: An illustration from the Edo Period showing the washi-making process.
Photo 3: One of the first sketches for the TATCHA washi paper.
Photo 4: A blank sheet of washi paper, ready for printing.
Photo 5: Preparing ink to print Tatcha's custom washi paper.
Photo 6: Examining the final paper to make sure the ink has been evenly distributed.
Photo 7: A roll of TATCHA's washi paper.
Photo 8: A detail of the washi paper, depicting San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, in gold ink, of course.