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What is "SASAWASHI"?

Birth of SASAWASHI(Bamboo Grass Japanese paper)

The fabric of SASAWASHI is made by cutting Japanese paper [which is mixed with kumazasa {a specific bamboo grass} ] into a long and narrow shape which is then twined, threaded and woven to fabric.
It is the birth of a mysterious material, which is washable the same as cotton and has many great functions. Let’s take a look at the practical wisdoms of traditional daily life in Japan where Japanese paper and bamboo grass were inter-related.


Practical wisdoms in traditional old life: Japanese paper and kumazasa

Japanese lives and bamboo Since the old days, Japanese paper has been used in various scenes in Japanese lives: it was used on paper clothes, umbrellas which were painted with vegetable oil or persimmon bitterness, and rain coats too.
There is no other paper in the world as Japanese paper in terms of variety of use in living cultural materials.
The reasons are that Japanese paper is more preserving and more processable to various products than western paper, and it has a peculiar beauty and elegance.

Japanese paper is still used various ways from books, art crafts, to wrapping, umbrella, lampshade, etc., in modern Japanese life. Above all, paper sliding door is a part of daily life.

It is one of the necessary items in Japanese house. With hot and highly humid climate in Japan, it provides humidity control and heat insulate effect to the room and terms of direct light from outside to soft light. Japanese paper, with excellent functions, makes people comfortable and calms their minds.

Bamboo grass that has been supporting Japanese life
Another material that has been supporting Japanese living culture as well as Japanese paper, is “kumazasa” (a low, striped bamboo).
The rice dumpling wrapped by bamboo grass in Niigata prefecture is rice mixed with sagebrush and sweet azuki beans inside. It is said that it started as food that can be preserved for wartime originally, the same as “chimaki” (wrapped with bamboo grass). Another example is “sasa-ame,”a simple confection in Echigo erea, which is a kneaded candy wrapped with bamboo grass. It appeared in a famous novel “Bochan,” written by Natsume Soseki.
Japanese people notice that kumazasa is put under sushi ingredients, or famous trout sushi or sasa-sushi in Toyama prefecture, which are covered all over by kumazasa.

Those are used Kumazasa’s antisepsis effect. It is an ancient wisdom in living that was learned through experiences and handed down to us. “Sasa-washi”(Japanese paper mixed with bamboo grass) is a material connected with traditional Japanese paper and bamboo grass.


Mystery of kumazasa

“Sasa”in sasa-washi means kumazasa.
Spreading it’s root on a deep snow environment, kumazasa had been used one of the needy plants in people’s life.
Why kumazasa is used for sasa-washi?
Let’s take a look of kumazasa’s mysterious power.

Kumazasa, full of vivid energy
Kumazasa is a plant that belongs to the Poaceae. It clusters in a plateau in Honshyu (the main island) and the mountain area in Hokkaido.
It is a large size bamboo grass, and edge of the leaves turn to be white (called “kuma” in Japan) when it goes through a year.
That is the reason why the plant is called kumazasa. The life span of the plant is about 60 years, and it grows strong by sucking up nutrients in a ground.
As its roots develops well in a ground, the plant maintains strong vitality, which contributes the plant to survive through snowy winter seasons.

Reason why bears before hibernation eat kumazasa
Bears eat lots of foods, enough to pass a winter before they go to hibernation.
Then, they eat lots of kumazasa. There is the reason for that.
Bears cannot have bowel movements during hibernation, because they are a sleep.

Keeping excretums in their bodies for a long time, make excretums ferment abnormally in the intestines, then toxins circulate all over the body through blood circulation.
Kumazasa prevents that from happening. Bears knows by their instinctively that kumazasa has blood cleansing and detoxicating functions. Therefore, they eat kumazasa first when they awake from hibernation.

Kumazasa get great attention by their various functions
Kumazasa is described in ancient Chinese book “Honso-amimoku,” written in the Ming dynasty era, where the origin of the world pharmacy and botany were founded.
It is said that kumazasa is effective for asthma, expectoration, duodenal ulcer, renal diseases, dropsy, and stanch bleeding. It had been used as ointment for inflammation, and malignant swelling.
Even today, kumazasa contains lot of chlorophyll, polysaccharide, lignin, dietary fiber, various vitamins including vitamin K, amino acids, etc., and it effectiveness and affect spreads widely.


 Characteristics of sasawashi
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