Before my obsession with vintage kimono fabrics took over, my heart belonged to the gorgeous, handmade Japanese papers. I put this adoration down largely to the little city of Mino.
When I first moved to Japan, back before the turn of the century, I was living in Gifu prefecture, close to Mino and would visit whenever I could.
Through history, Mino has been and continues to be, famous for its handmade paper, known as "washi". To this day it's still made in the traditional way.
A section of the town retains its old, heritage-listed buildings and is such a pleasure to wander through. Dotted through the streets are gorgeous little paper shop that can just make your heart stop...
To celebrate spring and the Cherry Blossom season, Mino holds a festival. Large, heavy floats decorated with paper blossoms are paraded through the streets, bouncing up and down while the men shout out "Oishai! Oishai!"
A Japanese festival would never be complete without the festival stalls selling everything from octopus balls and games where you try to catch and win live goldfish.
Even some of the dogs get dressed up for the occasion.
October sees another event in the town. People create amazing original lanterns from washi. These are lined up through the streets and lit at night in a stunning display for the public to see.
Wanting to share their traditions and culture, Mino hosts an artist in residence program every year. The funded participants live with a host family for three months, learn the traditional methods of paper making with the masters and create work for an exhibition at the end of the program. You can find more information about it here.
To this day, Mino remains one of my favourite places to visit when I'm back in Japan.