Origami paper cranes being burnt on the last day in Mino, Japan

In 2002, I arrived in Mino, Gifu prefecture on a three month washi paper residency. I was selected based on my handmade Artbooks and this was my first travels to the far East. Mino, however was a small rural town located in the region of Gifu prefecture, and including myself with four other artists, we set out to experience what this paper making residency had to offer to our art practice and of our perception of the place.

The Mino Paper Village Artists in Residency is a regimented programme. Artists are confined to the area with the exception of a ten day break there they are free to visit any other part of Japan. The goal of the organizers is to insure that most of the time is spent in the town. The lists includes tours, events and lectures which all artists must attend. Three months in an isolated place can be daunting, and not knowing the language had its drawbacks, yet my bonding with the artists made this experience less taxing. It is recommended that you focus primarily on producing work, seeing what is possible, if you are considering on applying.


The Emperor gardens during my visit to Kyoto, Japan. It can be described as one of the larges parks I’ve ever strolled through.

On my visit to Tokyo, Japan I found that it was difficult to find any address, and I literally walked in circles. Yet, in my travels I was protected by strangers I met briefly. On one occasion when I missed the last train and thought I had no place to stay , I was re-insured by a stranger not to panic, everything was going to ok, as it was. There are people that think of me since then, like Malgorzata Niespodziewana and Karen Havskov Jensen. Takaki Otsuka who sent a cd on the residency’s ten year anniversary reunion and Najib El-Khash who took care of me in Tokyo. These I do remember.


The night before the last day at the Mino Paper village Artist Residency in 2002, Japan

As I look back after these six years, I’ve come to realized that documenting this work is important for the Mino Paper Village’s legacy, but it is also cathartic for me. All passing and all forgiven. [I will be remembered] for seeing the good from the mishaps which made the residency more awarding for future artists. And here, I wish thank the Mino committee, Shin Murase, the host family, Watanabe San, interpreters, Yoko Tabata, Fumiko Otsuka,  and finally the artists who I do fondly miss. – Until then – Sayonara, my deed has been done

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Minopaper Richard Bolai ©2008