MINO, Gifu -- An about 4-meter-tall Christmas tree made of traditional "washi" paper that fits in well with the traditional Japanese street atmosphere has been warming the hearts of visitors to this central Japan city.
The tree was erected at Pocket Park plaza in the Udatsu Wall Historical District sightseeing spot in the city's center.
The Mino City Sightseeing Association planned the display in a bid to attract many people even in winter, when the number of tourists usually declines. The association commissioned Sueaki Watanabe, 74, the president of local company Watanabe Kogei, which has been holding events using Japanese washi paper, to create the tree.
Watanabe attached eight sheets of isosceles triangle washi paper -- whose base is about 60 centimeters and height is some 4 meters -- to a conically shaped wire frame, and adorned it with red artificial poinsettia flowers and white ribbons. The washi paper made with a machine at a company in the neighboring city of Seki is waterproof, so it apparently does not easily tear even in rain.
Ryoko Yamauchi, 42, of the nearby town of Yaotsu, who was visiting the site to see the street scenes with her son Daigo, 6, and daughter Yuzuki, 3, said: "I was drawn to the contrast of white and red, and when I came closer, I realized it was a tree. I feel the warmth of washi paper." She then smiled as she glanced at her children curiously staring at the tree.
Watanabe looked up at the tree and commented: "I want people to actually touch it and feel the soft texture of washi paper. I'll be happy if it can promote Mino -- the 'city of paper.'"
The Christmas tree is on display until Dec. 25 and is dimly lit up between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.
(Japanese original by Takuya Kurozume, Gifu Bureau)