“Abura-tori-gami” means “oil-blotting-paper.” As the words imply, it absorbs grease and takes the shine
from your face. If you use it before touching up your makeup, it helps the makeup stay on much longer.
Aburatorigami also works well to keep the balance of water and oil in your skin and prevents skin trouble
such as pimples.
The original aburatorigami was born about 1000 years ago as a by-product of making gold leaf in Kanazawa.
Originally, paper called hakuuchi-gami was used to support delicate gold when a craftsman hammered
the gold out into very thin leaf.
When Kyoto was the imperial capital (794-1192 AD), the demand was extremely high; gold was used
in decorating temples and in providing the emperor and the nobility with high-quality furnishings and
crafts. Thus, much hakuuchi-gami was taken to Kyoto as wrapping for delicate gold leaf.
Time went by, and a rumor “Hakuuchi-gami makes you feel just like you’ve taken a bath!” spread
throughout Kyoto. People were surprised to see how much oil was absorbed by only a piece of thin
paper, which was then thrown away. This was the moment when aburatorigami was born.
At the same time as the rumor, Minamiza, the first playhouse of Japan, was built in Kyoto.
There weren’t, of course, any air conditioning systems at that time, so the kabuki actors were always
struggling with the oil and sweat on their faces that ruined their thick makeup. Aburatorigami was
the very product which the actors had longed for. It prevented their makeup from coming off, and reduced
the time needed for touching up their makeup. The reputation of aburatorigami soon reached the pleasure
district of Gion, and the paper became loved by many geisha, who also wore a thick white foundation and
didn’t have much time to touch up their makeup. Thus, the culture of aburatorigami began to flourish here
in Kyoto. (For more information on geisha, see Kazumi YONEO
↑Minamiza (The first playhouse) ↑Kabuki actor ↑Maiko (geisha)
“Hey! Look at all of them! Gosh, I can’t choose only one!”
Nowadays, you can hear these high-pitched cries in many souvenir shops in Kyoto. Aburatorigami
is now popular not only among stage actors and mature women but also among boys and girls with
oily skin in junior high and high school. I actually used it often when I was a teenager, and it worked
really well for preventing pimples. Indeed, aburatorigami is the No.1 souvenir among students visiting
Kyoto for their school excursions. How about buying it for your children as a souvenir?
In this fashion, this special paper has been passed down from kabuki actors and geisha, and now its use
has spread all over Japan. Furthermore, people have kept the spirit of protecting nature here in Kyoto,
which is reflected in the Kyoto Protocol, together with the noble colors based on nature. When you visit Japan,
why not feel a tradition on your skin with Kyoto colors and aburatorigami ?