Mitsumata blossoms  

Mitsumata blossoms

Stress seems to melt away when you gaze at this serene forest protecting the mitsumata blossoms below. While the flowering buds are beautiful in their natural state, the mitsumata shrub (Edgeworthia chrysantha) has so much more to offer. Originally brought from China to Japan by monks, the green plant is now a staple of Japanese papermaking and one of three principal ingredients in washi, traditional Japanese paper. No wonder, then, that it"s also known as the Oriental paperbush. Mitsumata washi is dense and holds ink well—it"s a favorite of artists and calligraphers—and sheets of mitsumata paper are also used in traditional shoji screens.

© nattya3714/Getty Images

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