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Selecting the proper Shoji Paper

October 26, 2009 | Category: Shoji Doors | Total Read Time: 5 minutes

Shoji paper is made of traditional paper called washi. Some casual gaijin like to call it “rice paper,” but this is a myth. In fact, washi has nothing to do with rice. It is made from fibers from a tree called kozo, which is in the same family as the mulberry tree. The washi paper used for shoji screens is made with a specific thinness that allows just the right amount of light to go through. By changing the fiber direction and thickness, washi can control two opposing optical factors such as reflection rate and transparency. Shoji’s paper surface scatters sunlight evenly, making it soft to the eye and allowing light to distribute evenly. This function of washi makes it particularly suitable for indoor lighting fixtures such as Isamu Noguchi’s famous “Akari” lamp shades. Even at night, shoji screens help light a room as their white surface reflects indoor light and brightens the room. Shoji paper is thus quite remarkable: it has no glare problem, maintains privacy, and allows the light to enter in a pleasant way. Shoji paper is also known to help filter-out tobacco smoke and keep the adjacent room somewhat smoke free.

Types of Shoji Paper

Shoji paper acts as light diffuser in the room. You'll get a nice, soft glow through your shoji screen with any basic Shoji paper. It is easy to install or replace using just regular glue and a knife or scissors, Double-sided tape also works nicely on these papers. Shoji paper can be applied not only to Shoji screens but to various paper crafts and works such as paper shades, Shoji blinds, and Shoji lamps.

TRADITIONAL. Regular plain white Shoji paper with a traditional look and feel, typically seen in Japanese temples shrines and tea ceremony rooms. This Shoji paper is natural white color. Perfect replacement paper for your Shoji screen or shade. Also excellent for any paper craft, lamp paper, and other application. Made in Japan. 80% Pulp, 20% Synthetic Fiber. Size: 37"x 283" (94cm x 7.2m).

STRONG. Four times as strong as regular plain white Shoji rice paper. This paper is thicker than other Shoji papers and has look and feel of traditional Shoji paper. This paper is strongest made of rice (Washi) paper. Perfect replacement paper for your Shoji Screen or Shade. Also Excellent for any paper craft lamp paper and other application. Made in Japan. 60% Pulp, 40% Synthetic Fiber. Size: 37"x 141" (94cm x 3.6m).

TEXTURED. Japanese Shoji paper roll with mixed Gold & Silver Dust and Cloud Dragon patterns. This Shoji paper is natural white color. Perfect replacement paper for your Shoji screen or shade. Also excellent for any paper craft lamp paper and other application. Made in Japan. 25% Paper Mulberry, 15% Hemp, 40% Pulp, 15% Rayon, 5% Vinylon. Size: 37"x 141" (94cm x 3.6m).

KOZO. Organic Shoji paper made of 100% KOZO (Paper Mulberry) which is one of the traditional Japanese rice paper material. This Shoji Paper is "Natural White Color". Perfect replacement paper for your Shoji screen or shade. Also excellent for any paper craft lamp paper and other application. Made in Japan. Size: 37"x 169" (94cm x 4.3m).


Shoji can require regular maintenance, especially if you are rough on it, or if you have no tateguya-san to turn to for repairs. The kumiko-lattice can sometimes be broken, and the washi paper is so thin that a finger can poke a hole through. Repairing this kind of minor damage is an annual task in many households, and most people don’t mind doing it. After all, despite its beloved role in defining space and primary views, shoji is not a structural material, and most people understand this.

In fact, the graceful nature of shoji is a defining note of the Sukiya Living environment. Anyone can live in a steel bunker, using tin pans to eat from. But an aesthetically perceptive person wants more in life than just durability and practicality. After all, there are plenty of good people who are not ostentatious, but who still own silk garments or crystal-cut glassware that can’t be tossed in a dish washer. Why do they want such high-maintenance items? Because quality feels good, and it makes life feel delightful. Sukiya Living is all about quality, and quality requires maintenance. So changing the shoji paper every year or so isn’t such a bad thing.

The new paper will brighten up the room, and you’ll feel the satisfaction of completing a task. It’s the same way you feel after putting out clean bedding or a white table cloth.  A small hole in the washi can be a chance to express yourself if you apply a small patch with a motif like a plum blossom. Because shoji screens require a gentle touch, people who live with them learn to move gracefully instead of slamming doors. Shoji is not sound-proof, but we learn not to talk so loud, caring more about others in the house. In case of secret talk, it’s best to open up all the doors and windows, just to make sure no one is around to hear.

A culture of delicate shoji doors does not give so much importance to what your job is or what kind of expensive things you own. It weighs more on what you did with what you got, and how well you can maintain the gracefulness of your surroundings and the quality of your life.