The wonderful world of ‘washi’ tapes

OCTOBER 27, 2022

The wonderful world of ‘washi’ tapes
“Washi” tapes come in all sorts of colors and designs.
The wonderful world of ‘washi’ tapes
“Washi” tapes come in all sorts of colors and designs.

What’s rolled, sticky and brings a whole lot of whimsy? It’s washi tapes! Paper hoarders call it obsession. Sticker lovers call it therapy. Washi tapes are too addicting—just like sugar donuts when you are watching your carbs or the anime you couldn’t stop watching when you were growing up.

Like those animated shows, washi tapes trace their roots to Japan, the land of great stationery. Its etymology says it all: wa means Japanese and shi means paper. It’s yet another testament to the artistry and innovation that the Japanese are known for.

Washi tapes are made of paper, yes, but don’t think they’re fragile. These delightful decorative tapes are waterproof and heatproof. You stick it and you remove it and you can stick it again. You can use washi tapes to express your creativity and imagination.

It is an absolute pleasure to watch the washi tapes enliven a blank page. It’s like watching an Impressionist painter splash colors onto a canvas without knowing what the magnum opus it will turn out to be. Whether you line it neatly in an obsessive-compulsive way or place it aimlessly to create illusions of frenzy, rest assured that you’ll get what you crave for—an utterly original piece of paper art that is easily assembled and even easier to deconstruct.

The wonderful world of ‘washi’ tapes
Some tapes from the author’s “washi” collection

For instance, if you fancy a washi-fied snow-capped Mount Fuji, all it takes are some blues and white washi tapes with a cream-colored, grid background. You don’t even need to use scissors for these tapes, you can tear them into the exact dimensions you need for your project. You take your shade of blue (cerulean, azure, periwinkle … Miranda Priestly will be proud), fashion it into a triangle and top it off with the white for that snowy effect. You can even go and add clouds using the same white tape and voila, your very own Mount Fuji.

Stationery history

Out of the many brands that are available during a typical Bungo Joshi weekend (that’s Japan’s biggest stationery festival), I am partial to the MT (masking tape) washi tape from a 100-year-old company called Kamoi Kakoshi. The company had been making paper adhesives for industrial use for almost a century but it was only in 2006 that they created the MT brand washi tape, after three women from Tokyo reached out to them to share that they had been using their industrial tapes for craft projects. The rest, as they say, is stationery history. Since then, the brand has become a favorite of crafting connoisseurs as its quality is top-tier.

The wonderful world of ‘washi’ tapes
Adorn those pages with “washi” tape. —CONTRIBUTED

But today, the list of existing washi brands (and designs!) are endless. You can go high-end or low-end and still get delightful rolls and experience the joys of washi.

When you buy washi tape from the brand of your choice, what you hold in your hands are years of paper craftsmanship perfected in one roll. Unfurl it, along with your imagination, and add touches of whimsy to your planner pages and journal spreads.

Go ahead. No need to be “wishy-washi.” Get crazy with how you use it. Nobody will judge you here. —CONTRIBUTED 

The author is a teacher from Antipolo City, Philippines. He likes creative journaling and stationery hoarding. His book of collected pieces is available as an ebook. He can be reached through his website

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