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SIWA is a collaboration between washi paper maker ONAO and Fukasawa Naoto, the esteemed industrial designer. 

ONAO is located near Mt. Fuji, in the agricultural town of Ichikawa Misato, in Yamanashi Prefecture, an area boasting a 1,000-year history of paper-making. The company has perfected the technique of making washi, enabling them to create a material that is both waterproof and hard to tear.

 Ichikawa Misato, in Yamanashi Prefecture, an area boasting a 1,000-year history

SIWA products are made from naoron, a special type of paper developed by ONAO consisting of a mixture of wood pulp and synthetic fibres. This new material was developed using the ancient Japanese paper production technique of washi-suki. There are two types naoron: soft naoron, a mixture of wood pulp and polyolefin, which is soft and flexible. The other type is Recycled PET Fibre Naoron (RPF Naoron), created by adding recycled polyester fibres from used plastic bottles and textile products into the paper pulp. Both types of Naoron have the distinctive texture of paper, yet do not tear easily and are highly water-resistant. 

What is washi?

Washi literally means Japanese paper. ‘和’ (wa) is the character for Japan and ‘紙’ (shi) for paper. It is made with longer fibres than Western paper. During the production processes the fibres become tightly interwoven, resulting in a stronger more pliable paper. This strong, thin paper is used not only for books, drawings, and paintings, but also as a material for architecture and everyday items including sliding paper screens and partitions (shoji and fusuma), umbrellas, lamps, and garments.

Innovative origins

ONAO was established in 1974 as a manufacturer of shoji paper. Shoji in Japanese architecture are sliding partition doors and window covers made of a latticework wooden frame and covered with a tough, translucent white paper. Currently, about half of the shoji paper made in Japan is made in the region of Ichikawa-misato, where ONAO is based. When demand for shoji started to decline, ONAO started to look for ways to diversify their business and penetrate into overseas markets. Designer Fukasawa Naoto collaborated with them to find a way to bring washi products into the daily lives of people and SIWA was born. ONAO feel a passionate duty to carry on the tradition of Japanese paper making and for their business through the new generation. 

The brand

The name SIWA (pronounced 'shiwa') is both a reversing of the syllables in the word 'washi', and a word meaning 'crinkle' in Japanese. This name represents the unique characteristics of this special paper reversing the common ideas on the material. 

The collection

SIWA products include everything from bags, glasses cases and wallets to slippers and laundry baskets. All are stylish, individually crafted products made with an ultra-light, resistant and waterproof material. Even wet items, such as umbrellas, can be put inside a SIWA bag without fear of it tearing, making it perfect for travelling and everyday use. Even though the core material is actually paper, the SIWA bags can carry loads of up to ten kilograms. 

Visit The Shop

SIWA products are individually crafted and built to last; for more information, please enquire about SIWA products in The Shop at Japan House London.