What Is Washi Tape?


Let's talk tape!

You might be wondering what all this fuss about tape is. You might be asking yourself - what is washi tape??? So, let's start at the beginning:

A Short History of Washi Tape

The whole washi tape phenomenon started in 2006. A group of artists approached a Japanese masking tape manufacturer - Kamoi Kakoshi - and presented them with a book of art they had created using the company's industrial masking tapes. The artists requested that Kamoi Kakoshi manufacture colourful masking tapes for artists.

This was the start of mt masking tape. In the beginning, there were 20 colours, colours designed to bring out the beauty of the rice paper (or washi) used to make the tape. The tapes were a hit - with artists, crafters, and design lovers - both in Japan and, gradually, internationally. With success came new colours, patterns and sizes.


But What Is Washi Tape?

To put it simply, washi tape is a high quality masking tape made of rice paper. 

But more than that, washi tape is a material which is beautiful yet useful at the same time. You can tear it, stick it, reposition it, write on it... The low tack adhesive makes it extremely easy to use (and reuse). I think it is so popular because it is so easy to use - and looks good while doing it!


What's The Difference Between Washi Tape and Japanese Masking Tape?

Nothing. They're the same thing! Originally marketed as Japanese Masking Tape, at some point the accepted international term for the tape became "washi tape". In Japan, it's known as masking tape (マスキングテープ) and the most renowned brand of washi tape is simply called mt - which stands for "masking tape". The term "washi tape" refers to the fact that the tapes are made from Japanese rice paper and differentiates it from typical masking tape you might find in the hardware store.


What's The Difference Between Washi Tape and Deco Tape?

Deco Tape is a plastic tape. The tape itself feels a bit like a thin packing tape and is stickier than washi tape. It's great for sealing envelopes and wrapping presents but a little harder to use for paper crafting.

What About All Those Online Tutorials For Making My Own Washi Tape?

We're big proponents of creativity and DIY projects. Go ahead, have fun! That being said, real washi tape isn't really something you can make at home. The beauty of washi tape is that it is so easy to use - when you have to fuss with paper backings or stamp and draw designs on regular tape, it seems like an awful lot of trouble! You're also missing out on the inherent beauty and translucency of the rice paper used to make washi tape. Both the real and the DIY versions are great, but they don't really replace each other!

Why Is Washi Tape So Expensive?

We often hear that washi tape is pricy - but we don't think it is. We like to compare it to ribbon rather than to other tapes. Most of our rolls of washi tape have a generous 15 metres (almost 50 feet!) of tape. If you buy a single roll at $4.50, that's only $0.30 per metre. Try buying unique, imported ribbon at that price!

Have more questions about washi tape / deco tape? Please leave them in the comments and we'll be happy to answer them for you!

All this talk of washi tape has you craving some of your own? Visit our Tape section for a wide variety of washi and deco tapes!

47 comments:

  1. So that explains why it's so gorgeous to use. Thanks for the informative post :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was just wondering what the difference was between deco and washi! Great post! I love Washi!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Cool! I was just gifted a super-cute little roll of washi tape and was wondering what was so special about it. Now I know!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Please don't use the phrase "rice paper" to describe washi. It's a common enough misnomer, but it just doesn't make any sense! There is no rice involved in making washi. Instead, say "washi" or "Japanese handmade paper".

    ReplyDelete
  6. @ P Kaloolie - Thank you for your comment.

    While it is true that the term "washi" does not mean "rice paper" (it is the term for handmade paper typically made from kozo, gampi and/or mitsumata fibres), washi tape is indeed described as "rice paper tape" by the manufacturer.

    Both the terms "washi paper tape" and "rice paper" are given to us by the manufacturer. If you visit mt brand masking tape's website and take a look at their "The Birth Story of mt" section, you can not only discover the history of mt masking tape, but also see that they describe their tapes as being made from rice paper.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've been searching for washi tape for at least a year now and was convinced that it was only available in Japan. Today I finally found it in the v and a museum. Great post!
    Feather girl xx

    ReplyDelete
  8. I know that this is used extensively in scrapbook projects but it isn't acid / lignin free is it? I worry about it's archival quality.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The manufacturers of high quality washi tape do indicate that it is both acid and lignin-free. However, we are now seeing more and more cheap washi tape coming to market which is not made in Japan - we can't verify whether or not these tapes are acid/lignin-free.

      Delete
  9. Wonderful post - that explains it! It sure is popular, isn't it? I've posted about washi tape as well today and have this linked to it - thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love this tape and don't even have any yet!!! This could be a problem...lol

    ReplyDelete
  11. Is it washable? I'v seen where it is taped onto bags and aprons. Do you have to sew it down?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never heard of it being used as a permanent accent on fabric. I wouldn't think it would last through rigorous use / washing. It's essentially a low-tack paper tape - but just a very pretty one!

      Delete
  12. how strong is washi tape? is it as strong as masking tape?

    thank you..gina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Gina - I'd say that washi tape is more delicate/thinner than regular masking tape but less brittle. What were you hoping to use it for? Perhaps I can give a clearer answer on strength if I know what you're hoping to do with it.

      I use it to stick things to walls and have some pieces which have been stuck for over one year which have not dried out or lost their stickiness. It can be used to seal envelopes for mailing, but is not strong enough to seal boxes.

      Hope that helps!

      Delete
  13. How well does it come off of walls? I am renting so I need to make sure it won't rip off any paint! I want it to stay on for long periods of time and I'm scared it will damage the walls.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have never had it damage walls, but really cannot make any guarantees. That being said, I have pieces of washi tape which have been stuck to walls for over a year which easily remove without causing damage. I would recommend testing a small piece, leaving it in place for about a week and then removing to check how easily it removes / whether it will cause damage before creating a large installation.

      Delete
  14. Is there any difference in the stickiness between washi tape and normal masking tape?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are both made using low tack adhesive, so I would say they are around the same stickiness. That being said, I haven't actually had a regular roll of masking tape in a year or so. They are both very easy to stick, remove and reposition though. Hope that helps!

      (Sorry, I thought I'd answered your question last week - it seems not to have published.)

      Delete
  15. I've decided to purchase some for decorating glass jars to make into vases but was wondering, how well will it hold up against being washed?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Donna,
      It is a paper tape so, in my opinion, it's not really the sort of thing you'd want to wash. It's more of a temporary vase decorating technique than a permanent one. The rolls we carry have between 12-15 metres of tape though, so if you were to remove it and redecorate your jars over and over you'd have plenty of tape to do so!

      Delete
  16. is it anything like electrical tape?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No - it's essentially coloured masking tape. The quality of paper used is nicer than your run of the mill masking tape, but that's the best comparison.

      Delete
  17. Do you sell washing tape? I live in Tasmania n I like card making but I doubt we have washi tape in store.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We do - you can find it in our shop Omiyage.ca

      Delete
  18. Do any stores in Calgary Alberta or Thunder Bay Ontario sell it? Or can I only get it online?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure about the availability of washi tape in local shops. Sorry!
      We sell it online here - http://www.omiyage.ca/category/washi-tape

      Delete
  19. Would it be possible to use washi as a permanent border on acrylic painted walls? We are considering a thin line below cornices. It is high enough to avoid any contact or dirt, but will it stay put with changes in temperature in humidity?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure that it is your best choice for a permanent border. I have tape which has been in place for over a year and is just fine. That being said, I would only consider it for temporary vs permanent applications in home decor.

      Delete
  20. I've seen various pictures around on the internet showing the washi tape used for decoration on candles in glass containers. As I make homemade candles, and most of them are made in glass jars, I was thinking the tape would be a great, easy way to put some really beautiful designs on the glass.
    That being said, I have 2 questions regarding the tape,
    Would you know if the heat from burning the candle would cause the tape to peel or loose its tackiness?
    I have also seen people saying they have sealed the tape onto the glass using an acrylic type sealant, and others suggesting the modge-podge idea, for a more permanent decoration. Would this seem like something that would be effective?
    Thanks for your thoughts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kels - thanks for your question. Unfortunately, I don't have a definitive answer for you - I haven't experimented with washi tape around candles in glass jars. The heat might cause the tape to dry out, but I'm really not sure - sorry! Do you ever label your candles? How does the sticker / label hold up to the heat?

      Your best bet might be to pick up a single roll of the tape and try it out. I have seen washi tape mod podged over and it seems to work - like a decoupage - but I'm not sure how the mod podge / the sealant would react to the heat of the candle.

      Personally, I like to think of washi tape as a temporary vs permanent decorative solution. If the tape falls off, replace it with another piece. (That being said, I've rarely had a situation where washi tape actually fails me).

      Delete
  21. Hey! I am a big fan of Pinterest, I actually follow you! If you want you can follow me! My account is mcait99. Sorry I got a little off topic there.....here's what i was trying to ask you...I've seen you post a lot of things on Pinterest about Washi Tape...where can you get it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We actually sell it in our online shop!
      You can find lots of different patterns & designs here:
      http://www.omiyage.ca/category/washi-tape

      Delete
  22. Here's a blog post on how to make your own washi tape gift dispensers:
    http://thepapercraftpost.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/papercrafted-washi-tape-dispensers_29.html

    ReplyDelete
  23. How is it pronounced? Lady on t.v. keeps saying "wasi tape" as if the h is silent? Which is it?.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's pronounced as it's written - with the "sh" sound. Would love to know where you saw info on washi tape on tv.

      Delete
  24. I want to use Washi tape on glass but want to know if it can go in the oven?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Washi tape is a kind of paper masking tape. I would not recommend putting it in the oven. Doing so is probably a fire hazard.

      Delete
  25. I have linked to this via my blog, as it was too interesting not to share. I hope you don't mind!
    Here is the post: http://hodgepodgecraft.com/2013/06/easy-make-cardboard-box-play-house/

    Love your stuff :o)

    ReplyDelete
  26. This has been very useful. Been very curious of washi tapes for a long time now ;) I'm planning to make a scrapbook of all my travels. Thanks a lot

    ReplyDelete
  27. Does it peal paint from walls? I like to tape up my drawings on the wall, but my parents are worried about the paint. Will this work permanently, or no?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sanjida - we have found that this depends on the condition of your walls. Smooth walls usually have no problems but older walls with layers of paint or chipped paint can be damaged when tape is removed. If you are worried about damaging your wall, we recommend testing a piece of washi tape in a small inconspicuous area to make sure it is compatible with your painted surface before committing to lots of tape.

      Delete
  28. What if i left washi tape on a table top for about a year, would it still peal off nicely?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jessica - it really depends on the surface of your table. I haven't left tape on a furniture surface for that long, so I'm really not sure. I have had tape on walls for more than a year which peel off nicely. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful - good luck!

      Delete