The culture in Japan is very different from what we have in the West, resulting in many differences even in the smallest and most insignificant things. However, we are more and more drawn to things from the East, and perhaps that is why the Japanese binding.

What is Japanese binding

Way to binding of books or notebooks in Japan it has little to do with that of the West. There it is deemed unnecessary to incorporate a blanket as we know them today. Usually, in Japan, ledgers are divided into volumes, and thick covers are rarely used for binding.

Instead, a type of restrictive much simpler and minimalist, based on the use of a decorative background and a protruding cardboard back, in which the name or other small detail can be included. This type of bond is called Japanese binding, and has the same beauty and simplicity as a haiku.

Now that this type of Japanese binding is becoming more and more fashionable, we are going to show you how you can make your own notes, stories or even your personal diary look the most original.

Materials for making Japanese bindings

It’s not too difficult and you won’t need too much Equipment. Of course, it doesn’t look like the bookbinding we know, and you have to use specific materials.

In principle, we will need:

  • First of all, the leaves that we want to bind. This type of binding is recommended for books, notebooks, or free books no larger than approximately 50 sheets.
  • The paper or fabric with the background we want to put.
  • The cardboard, which will be used to make the covers of the book.
  • An adhesive for porous materials.
  • Hemp thread or regular thread for the loin.
  • A sharp tool
  • We will also need other basic aids, such as a ruler for measurements, a pencil for making marks or a chisel, a box cutter or the like for cutting.

How to do Japanese bookbinding step by step

Making this kind of binding is not complicated, except maybe the last step, and it can be done manually. Let’s see what are the steps to achieve this.

The first step is put the sheets together that we will include in the notebook and stick them, fully aligned, at one end. So that the glue dries faster and the leaves do not move, we can put a little weight on them.

After the glue dries, we need to cut a piece of cardboard that protrudes about 2 millimeters above the leaves, and a piece of cloth or paper (the one we’re going to use to decorate) about 2 inches longer than the cardboard on each side. These will be the parts with which we will cover the notebook.

We glue the cardboard onto the fabric, making sure that everything is centered. Will be ours blanket. Then you have to cut the excess corners (leaving a little margin) and glue the excess fabric on the other side of the cardboard, as if you were wrapping a gift. To cover the cardboard inside, we will cut out a piece of fabric of a different color and 1 centimeter less on each side than the cardboard. We stick it with an adhesive in what will be the inner cover, making sure that no piece of cardboard remains visible.

Now is the time to do lid. To do this, we mark two lines that should go 0.5 and 4 centimeters from the spine, approximately. They should be straight lines parallel to each other and to the spine. One of the pieces, the 4 centimeter one, will work as a spine and be where we make the japanese sewing, while the 0.5 cm one will serve as a separator.

We cut these two pieces and line the 4cm one as we did before (or even with a different paper or fabric). We place them next to the lid, interposing the 0.5 cm wide one in the middle. We glue the wider strip, and after we are done, we can remove the 0.5 cm strip, which simply served as a guide.

Japanese binding sewing

Once we’ve covered the book, the most distinguished part of Japanese binding remains. Secure the spine by sewing it with thread.

For this we must first do 4 holes arranged vertically about 2 centimeters from the spine of the book. They have to go through the whole notebook. We can use an awl or similar tool.

Now it’s time to sew, for which you need to cut 5 times more thread than the width of the notebook.

You start with the second hole starting at the top and working the thread from top to bottom, leaving a piece of thread remaining. Now the child has passed through the same hole again, also from top to bottom, and we have already made the first anchor.

Now we pass the needle through the third hole, from bottom to top (this makes sense since the needle is already in this position). We do this twice, as before, and we already have our second anchor point.

You pretty much get it and the rest is no different from these steps. You can see it better in the following video:

Types of Japanese binding

There are many types of Japanese bindings, depending on the decorative patterns, the different shades of the cover and the complexity of the stitching. Usually the most common is to differentiate yotsume koji, the one we learned today and is best known in the West, or the Kangxi, which is a bit more complex and is commonly used in Japan.

Either way, both types can be very good if we practice a bit and it’s a simple way to give a personal touch to our painting notebooks, agendas, poetry books and a long etcetera. What do you think? Did that grab your attention? Do you dare to try it at home?

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