To my absolute delight, paper is everywhere in Japan.
From paperwork to purification wands/ōnus (大幣), I have found that the use of paper in day to day life in japan is deeply rooted. Its importance is clear, however very few Japanese people have a clear understanding of why it is so important, and used so frequently.
When I moved here I brought a few books with me, books that I return to time and time again, however since living in Japan, these books have taken on a deeper level of meaning. Texts that were once so alien and magical to me, have now been put into context, a little less alien but still so magical.
There is a passage in Leonard Koren's book, Wabi-Sabi (侘寂), that perfectly sums up the language barrier between Japanese and English, and why certain things, such as washi (和紙) and shide (紙垂), are so difficult to fully explain.
'The Japanese language is good for communicating subtleties of mood, vagueness, and the logic of the heart, but not so good for explaining things in a rational way.’
And yet, is this not what makes this culture so incredibly fascinating? That not everything can be or needs to be explained.