Paper Houses

How can a rural, 1000 year-old papermaking village in Japan survive in an aging society that values salaryman culture above traditional crafts? Living National Treasure, Iwano Ichibei leads us into the life of nine generations of his family and the sensuous world of handmade mulberry paper. Produced in Ootaki village, this incredible paper is in demand from the Louvre, Yayoi Kusama, and water-based woodblock printmakers around the world who make prints in the same way that Hokusai did and who rely on this extraordinarily strong and glistening handmade paper.

  • Louise Rouse
  • Sugarlift Association
    Supporting Organisations
  • Ichibei Iwano
    Key Cast
  • Agustín Spinetto
    Roger Waters: The Wall
  • Chiharu Nagashima
    Sound Engineer
  • Benjamin Parks
    Production Consultant
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    9 minutes 36 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 4, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    500 USD
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  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Japanese
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
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Director Biography - Louise Rouse

Louise Rouse was born in the UK and is a contemporary printmaking artist who has been based in Tokyo for over a decade. Her work spans installation printmaking, video, and electronic media.

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Director Statement

Through her work as a contemporary printmaker, Louise Rouse has met and documented the stories of traditional craftspeople whose skills, tools and materials contribute to the world of woodblock printmaking across Japan including master carvers, printers, brush makers, paper makers and sizers, steel forgers among others.
These skills have been passed through traditional apprenticeships and family businesses for up to four hundred years but are increasingly under pressure as the nature of work has changed dramatically in Japan in the last sixty years.
Despite touring exhibitions worldwide for Japan's woodblock printing heritage that sell out time after time, those with the living world class skills of this unique art form struggle to attract successors to steward these skills into the future.
Paper Houses, made in the hand-made papermaking village in the Echizen region of Fukui Prefecture, documents one of these stories.