What Is Washi Tape? Plus, the Best Ways to Use It!

What is washi tape? What’s all the hype about? Learn what makes washi tape so great, plus how to use it for a variety of crafts, home décor projects, and more!

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Spools of floral washi tape on a textured surface.

I remember when the hype around washi tape started several years ago and I was so confused. Sure, these tiny rolls of tape are cute and all, but what do I do with it? What’s the point? How much should I buy? Is one roll enough? And why is it so expensive?

Well, fast forward several years and I love collecting washi tape! It’s become quite affordable, easy to find online or at craft stores, and its unique low-tack adhesive (that still seems to stick to just about anything) makes it perfect for a variety of projects.

The fun of washi tape is that it is a creative tool–much like paint, scrapbook paper, or yarn. It’s just another way to create art, embellish objects, or even decorate your home.

A bud vase decorated with washi tape polka-dots.
Ceramic bud vases decorated with washi tape.

What Is Washi Tape?

Washi tape is a low-tack flexible adhesive tape that originated with the Japanese company Kamoi Kakoshi. Several years back, in 2006, their industrial masking tapes had caught the eye of some artists in Japan who began using the tapes for their work.

When the company learned of this creative new way of using their product, it started a snowball effect. The company began the production of more colors, styles, and patterns of beautiful paper masking tape–this time intended specifically for creative use.

Kamoi Kakoshi’s brand of paper masking tape, is MT, for “masking tape.” As noted on the official US website of MT tape, “MT is the original brand of washi paper masking tape, created by the 100 year old company Kamoi Kakoshi and produced in Japan. “

Three washi tape spools in a stack.

This paper masking tape trend eventually swept through the West too. Now there are many companies producing “washi tape” for crafters and artists.

I highly suggest purchasing some of the original tapes from MT. They have a beautiful selection and of course, the quality is impeccable.

Take a browse through MT’s paper masking tape and see all the beautiful colors and designs that washi tape has to offer! You can also find their tapes from various sellers on Etsy.

Here in the West, the decorative masking tape is usually referred to as washi tape, so I tend to use that term for clarity (as masking tape here is a very different product).

The tape is also referred to as decorative tape, paper masking tape, paper tape, decorative adhesive tape, and more. On the MT packaging, it reads, “Kamoi Paper “Washi” Adhesive Tape.”

If you’d like to learn more about washi paper itself and the process that goes into making it, this article about the washi paper-making process provides a thorough explanation.

Washi tape in a mason jar with more spools surrounding.

What’s So Special About Washi Tape?

Alright, so now we know how washi tape got its start, but let me share a few reasons why it is so special–and why you need to add some to your craft supplies!

Two mason jars filled with washi tape with more spools surrounding the jars.

It’s new! One of the coolest things about Japanese masking tape or washi tape is that it’s really quite a new invention. Kamoi Kakoshi realized that the creatives using their industrial tape were on to something and their new “MT” masking tape brand skyrocketed from there.

Now, a favorite craft supply of crafters everywhere. Washi tape begin in 2006, gained enormous popularity, and is now a staple craft supply in craft stores everywhere (and online too).

Unique adhesive. A hallmark of washi tape is its low-tack adhesive. The adhesive allows the tape adhere easily to just about any surface and ALSO to be removed easily, without leaving a sticky residue.

Easy to use. The paper masking tape is easy to tear by hand. You also can cut washi tape many different ways depending on how you wish to use it. My video gives you some ideas.

Semi-transparent. Another great hallmark is that washi tape is semi-transparent so it can be layered for different creative effects.

So many choices! Washi tape is available in hundreds of unique colors and designs. It makes it so easy to decorate a card, phone case, or even a piece of furniture. Designs like florals, cute animals, food, vintage art, cities, and so many others keep crafters coming for more.

Once you start collecting, it is hard to stop!

Any negatives to know?

I will add here that washi tape isn’t really all that practical. It shines in decorative functions, but you won’t be adding it to your grocery list the same way you might add postage stamps, envelopes, or the like.

However, isn’t that what makes crafting so fun? Embracing the pure joy of creating and leaving the monotony of practical life behind for a bit?

Washi tape provides a unique way to apply pattern and color to nearly any surface with little fuss. It’s worth collecting some spools and seeing how you become inspired to use them!

How to Use It!

There are so many fun projects to make with washi tape. I even made a list of 30+ washi tape ideas that you can check out for lots of crafts and projects to try.

Bullet journaling is a very popular way to use washi tape. If you love organizing a bullet journal or keeping a paper planner, washi tape is definitely your friend!

Or, a simple way to get started with washi tape is just to cover something with it.

Use washi tape to a cover: a picture frame, a wooden crate, a phone case, a handmade greeting card, a canvas, a phone charger, a notebook, a water bottle, your keys, pens or pencils, or even make designs on a small piece of furniture!

Below, I simply used a favorite roll from Hobby Lobby to cover a mason jar lid.

A mason jar with the lid covered in washi tape.

Washi tape is great for designing cards, decorating vases, creating wall art, and so many more ideas.

My Favorite Spots to Buy Washi Tape

I’ve written a post about my favorite Etsy stores selling washi tape as well as some of my favorite washi tape sets on Amazon. There are also plenty of independent retailers selling washi tape and your local craft store is a great bet too.

Grab some authentic MT washi tapes off the MT website, or find them on Etsy.

Shop Michaels for washi tape.

Head over to Amazon and look at the large sets of washi tape to get you started.

How much tape does one person really need?

Colorful washi tape spools in a stack.

Admittedly, the washi tape obsession can get out of hand rather quickly. I often to use my tapes to make cards, seal envelopes & packages, and craft original art.

For these purposes, I’ve found that it’s nice to have a wide variety (50-100 rolls) to combine different colors and patterns.

Home state washi tape wall art in a white frame.
Home State Washi Tape Art

It’s easy to start a washi tape collection by purchasing a larger set or two of washi tape and then adding in some solo rolls as you come across new favorites.

Sidenote: One of my absolute favorite Etsy stores for washi tape is Note and Wish, located in the UK. If you love old books and/or Jane Austen novels, then you simply must check out these tapes!

On the other hand, feel free to start your collection at a slower pace. If you intend to use a particular roll for a specific project or craft, simply purchase what you need and add more as you come up with additional projects.

What’s Next?

If you don’t already own some washi tape, do some shopping at MT, Etsy, or Amazon and order a few fun colors and patterns! If you DO own washi tape, and are wondering what to do with it…go read my post about all the cool crafts and projects you can make with washi tape!

Enjoy creating!

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