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Collage of woodblocks and tools such as brushes and circular muslin covered frames

Maruni creates decorative sheets imbued with Kyoto style and elegance known as karakami. Among Japan’s exquisite crafts, karakami is a more unusual one of natural-fiber paper printed with both subtle and bold patterns pressed from carved magnolia blocks. Artisanship lies in the maker’s hand wielding one essential tool, the furui—a circular muslin-covered frame that allows for careful absorption of moisture and controlled application of pigment across a block. The finished sheets bring ambience to walls, ceilings and partitions. Design objects can also readily incorporate karakami as natural embellishment.

Maruni’s karakami coordinates 67 stylized patterns, pigments enhanced with flecks of mica and crushed oyster shell, several handmade paper varieties and tailored print layouts. Their profusion of patterns are lyrical in their naming: akikusa or fall grasses; ogumo or big clouds; kanzesui, water swirls.

Urushi karakami, an exclusive material innovated by Maruni, combines the understated chic of karakami with the smooth brilliance of lacquer. This new technique finishes the sheets with a resistant layer of natural lacquer that intensifies in color and with particular lighting. In this form, karakami resembles a work of art.

Urushi karakami products in 3 different colors
Woodblock used to create Kyoto karakami

In 1902 Maruni was founded as a workshop of paper mounters—the meticulous craft of framing paintings and scrolls in paper and textile formats. Thereafter, Maruni saw a special market in creating the decorative papers themselves. Karakami  [唐紙] reveals a rich history: Kara is the classical name for China from where the craft derived long ago; kara is also the Chinese character for Tang, as in the Tang Dynasty. The second character, kami, means paper. Maruni preserves the heritage of karakami in its keep of several hundred patterned woodblocks.

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