Documentary Film Project


Kyo Karakami Karacho is a producer of hand-printed karakami decorative papers, the only one of its kind remaining in Japan, with a history stretching back over 400 years to the Edo Period (1603-1868). The patterns of their papers have always been closely connected to people’s everyday lives. The world of their patterns, simple and thus all the more profound, is linked to ancient layers of memory common to all humankind. Infinitely repeatable patterns form a universal network of thought, connecting the ancient with the contemporary and Japan with the rest of the world.

Producer : Sanae Kawai

「京からかみ唐長」は、江戸時代から400 年続く日本で唯一残る手摺りによる唐紙の老舗である。文様は、いつの時代にも人の営みと共にあった。そのシンプルであるがゆえに豊かな文様世界は、人類共通の記憶の古層と深く結びついている。無限に広がる文様は、人類普遍の思想のネットワークであり、古代と現在を繋ぎ、さらには世界を繋ぐ。

プロデューサー : 河合 早苗

from the Director

In Shugaku-in, Kyoto at the home and workshop of Kenkichi Senda and his wife Ikuko, whose family have carried on the time-honored tradition of Kyoto karakami decorative papers since the Edo Period (1603-1868) and continue to produce them today, a dimly lit room is illuminated by vividly colored karakami conveying a sense of how these beautiful patterns once graced daily life in Japan. Here we are beckoned into a world of patterns transcending space and time by a hundred-page sample book, by many examples of lovingly preserved karakami created in the past, and by the evocative fragrance of antique washi paper.

In a small workshop on the second floor there is a large black work table surrounded by colorful glass bottles containing earth- and mineral-derived paints and mica, and shelves packed with brushes of various sizes and shapes, humble tools bundled in cloth, and rolls of washi paper.

Slowly, carefully, yet without hesitation, Senda selects and mixes colors. In his unerring movements we see the skill of the master artisan, relying solely on intuition gained from long years of experience. All colors are mixed from only red, blue, and yellow, and with the addition of mica they are transformed into splendid shades with a mysteriously enchanting glimmer. A fascinating aspect of Senda’s color combinations is that even when a single shade is not particularly clear or eye-catching, combinations of mutually complementary colors will render them both astoundingly vivid. The colors are consistently transparent, never overbearing, and the pleasant and elegant variations of the palette encapsulate the infinite range of colors in our world.

In a storage area for wooden printing blocks in the back of the workshop, antique woodblocks handed down over generations since the Edo Period gleam darkly, subtly worn with use and quietly awaiting their turn to be used once more. Botanical patterns, animal patterns, celestial patterns representing clouds, waves and stars, geometric patterns and more are elaborately carved into reliefs on pieces of wood approximately 1.5 centimeters thick. Earth- and mineral-based paints and mica, delicately applied to the carved reliefs, are transferred with a gentle touch and absorbed into washi paper. Like the small flame of a candle, this refined handcrafting technique has been quietly preserved by the Senda family over the years.

In the midst of nothingness, a tiny point spreads out in all directions like a ripple in still water, and the expanding ripples produce endless variations that appear only to disappear again. Like all of us, and all living things, born into this world, given form only to lose it once more. Perhaps we make art, create shapes and patterns, in order to draw closer to the forms, the beauty, the miracles that we receive through the grace of nature. And surely patterns act as messages from the universe to us, from nature to us, and from us to each other.

Director : Ayako Mogi






監督 : 茂木 綾子


  • 2017.7予備調査開始

  • 2019.2撮影開始

  • 2023.3完成予定

  • 海外映画祭出品

  • 国内一般上映

  • July 2017Preliminary research begins

  • February 2019Shooting begins

  • March 2023Editing work ends

  • Screenings at foreign film festivals

  • General release in Japan