Washi is the title of the spokesman of the Haibane Renmei. He's the only one of the Renmei allowed to speak. He also mediates between the townspeople and the Tooga using sign language.
Washi seems to fit the role of the town's wise-man. We never see the humans with him, but the story is about the haibane, so it's hard to take that as definitive. He does seem to be very difficult for anyone other than the haibane to approach, however. The belled wings communication system wouldn't really work for them. At the least he has some level of political power in the city, since he's the conduit through with all the outside goods must flow.
Washi seems to have been in the city for a long time. The impression he gives is of a fairly old man. Not just for his cane, but from his speech and what little we can see of his face around the mask. He didn't seem too much younger in the flashback, either.
He is both a protector of the haibane and a guide. His
comments pretty clearly state that the Renmei members, himself included,
are all haibane who failed their trials, and he seems to work hard trying
to prevent that from happening again. This is an interesting position,
since it means the better he does his job the smaller the group of protectors
will be, which will make their job harder, increasing their numbers.
He's definitely not above meddling in the haibane's lives, and he's pretty good at it by now. The city's politics must be quite interesting if he has the same amount of interest in the human side of things.
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