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 10-15 metres (or 33 to 50 feet!) of tape and price out to around $0.30 per metre. Try buying unique, imported ribbon at that price!

Is Washi Tape Acid / Lignin-free?

Yes, high-quality washi tape is both acid and lignin-fre. However, we are now seeing more and more cheap washi tapes coming to market which is not made in Japan - we cannot verify whether of not these tapes are acid/lignin-free.

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 tapes.