“Suminagashi” – The Ancient Art of Japanese Paper Marbling

Suminagashi By Artisan Tadao Fukuda published by TakiPaperTV

Mr. Fukuda creates Suminagashi” and shows us his skill while holding one brush with a pine tree on the right, and three-brushes on the left with different colors. He draws a pattern on the surface of the water. Then, he takes a breath and creates a unique pattern. Then, cover the Japanese paper from above and copy the design. At first glance, it looks simple, but it seems that well water, pine tree, ink, and Japanese paper all have secrets. The color is light, and the pattern is monotonous. But we can understand the difficulty.

What Is Suminagashi?

Suminagashi is a pattern formed when ink is dripped in water, or the pattern is dyed.

Echizen Washi in Fukui Prefecture has a history of more than 1500 years, among the many washi producing areas nationwide. Suminagashi” is a technique to copy delicate patterns drawn with ink or dye on the surface of water onto Japanese paper, and attracts many people both inside and outside Japan.

Japnese Paper Marbling is a painting technique of aqueous surface design. It can create designs and patterns similar to sleek marbles. The patterns and designs are the results of colors floated on either clear water or a viscous mixing known as size. And then carefully shifted to an absorbent surface, before-mentioned as paper or fabric materials.

Not only just years but, for several ages, people have applied marbled materials technique to many kinds of surfaces. Furthermore, it’s frequently used as a writing surface for calligraphy too. Particularly, on book-covers and endpapers (a leaf of paper at the beginning or end of a book)  in bookbinding and stationer materials. Each print is a unique monotype, and so it appeals to viewers’ eyes.

Today we will relish one of kind, a beautiful paper marbling art tutorial called Japanese Paper Marbling or Suminagashi by one of the greatest craftsman of Japan and all around  the world Artisan Tadao Fukuda. He is well-known for creating the most beautiful paper marbling artworks in the planet by using an ancient age-old water bath marbleizing technique.

Mr Tadao Fukuda, a holder and master of traditional crafts who holds the “Sumi Nagashi” intangible cultural property designated by Fukui Prefecture.

Observation & Learning

Suminagashi Demonstration: Suminagash By Artisan Tadao Fukuda published by TakiPaperTV

In this fascinating demonstration, Mr. Fukuda weaves with “Sumi Nagashi” is truly transformative. He puts a brush with dye on the water, and when the color spreads, attaches a brush with pine tar in the center of the circle, and the pine tar repels the dye and spreads in concentric circles.

He repeats this rhythmical process and a number of folded circles are created. Then, he blows on “Fu, Fu,” or flicks the fan, a “pattern that can be done only once” is created and it truly amazes us! Then, Mr. Fukuda puts a handmade Washi paper, which was made by himself and has excellent water absorbency and is hard to tear, onto the finished design, and the pattern is copied onto the Washi paper.

Moreover, by using one of the methods, we can also draw letters and pictures on the water. Red bean powder, Phellodendri Cortex (Ouhaku), alum wrapped in linen, soaked in paper dampening with water, write the black letters and pictures floating on water. And push down the paper in the bottom of the water by a thin bamboo Gushi To leave only ink on the surface of the water.

Such art creating process is a magical, simple, and meditative manner. By following this technique, one can feel like capturing the air or the delicate movement of the water in a tiny piece of paper. It is a gift to the world, transparent and ethereal ancient art technique of Japan.

Great to Know

“Sumi Nagashi” is a traditional technique in which a brush with pigment and pine resin is used alternately to draw a pattern on the surface of the water and copy it on Japanese paper. During the Heian period, it was used as colored paper and strips for writing poetry. The actor, who was watching the work, was surprised when he saw the pattern on the washi paper and said,

“It’s amazing !”

Mr. Fukuda praised the actor who challenged “Sumi Nagashi”,

“The handling is wonderful for the first time.”

Mr. Tadao Fukuda, a holder and master of traditional crafts who holds the “Sumi Nagashi” intangible cultural property designated by Fukui Prefecture. It is said that the technique of “Sumi Nagashi” can be traced back to the history of the Heian period. Mr. Fukuda, who decided that it was tough to do the same thing as before, at the Fukuda family who had a handmade Washi production as a livelihood, was established through trial and error. He did it.

Even at the age of his eighties, he was very energetic. He arranged so many workshops in Japan and around the globe with his marbling paper “Sumi Nagashi” workshops everywhere. The workshop of Tadao Fukuda, a traditional craftsman who keeps protecting only one “inkinkashi” designated as “Intangible Cultural Property” of Fukui Prefecture.

Many private collectors bought his valuable art pieces and And we can find many of his masterpieces in many national- international prestigious Museums. According to the artisan Tadao, to understand that selling each piece of paper is Mr. Fukuda’s “food for life.”

Contact Details

Mr Tadao Fukuda

Fukui Prefecture designated intangible cultural property


25-25 Otaki-Cho, Echizen City, Fukui Prefecture

Phone number



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *