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[Video]Did You Know? Japanese Culture – Origami

Popular all over the world right now, origami (art of folding paper) is a traditional Japanese game. Below is everything you need to know about origami that children and adults enjoy.

What is Origami?

Origami is a traditional Japanese game of creating animals, plants, living tools and other shapes by folding paper. The folded work itself, the special square paper used in origami, and the chiyogami (decorative paper) that is made with Japanese paper that is filled with patterns and designs are all called “origami”.

History of Origami

The origin of washi (Japanese paper) that used Japanese manufacturing methods and materials goes back to somewhere between the 5th and 6th centuries. Washi was used for wrapping written records and offerings to the gods. In the Heian period (794 - 1185), when the culture of the emperor's dynasty matured, the act of “beautifully wrapping presents” among aristocrats became a trend. It is said that this act of “wrapping” marked the start of origami. “Yugi origami” for playing and “girei origami” for wrapping presents and attaching paper developed thereafter. During the Muromachi period (1338 - 1573), the methods used to fold “tsuru” (crane) and “yakko-san” (servant of a samurai warrior) are similar to how they are done today.
Japanese paper became more affordable during the Edo period (1603 - 1868), so yugi origami further developed. In Hiden Senbazuru Orikata (Secret Folding of Thousand Cranes), which was published in 1797 and is said to be the oldest material on origami in the world, there are instructions for folding 49 types of cranes. Even Europe completed its own origami culture by the 19th century, and the current origami in Japan was apparently shaped with influences from origami in Europe in the early modern ages.

Major Origami

Typical origami includes cranes, balloons, paper airplanes, shuriken (throwing star), frogs, helmets, and yakko-san.

Types of Origami

Origami has various folding methods.

Fusetsu Seihokei Ichimai Ori: Folding with the use of only a piece of square paper without using scissors
Fukugo Origami: The subject matter is divided into several parts and the folded parts are put together to form a single shape
Kirikomi Origami: Cutting marks are put on paper and one part of the paper is cut to create complicated shapes
Unit Origami: Several pieces of paper are folded into similar shapes and then these smaller pieces are tessellated to build one big piece
Shikake Origami: A kind of origami that can move

※Photo shows a unit origami

Origami-Related Sightseeing Spots

Origami is sold at stationery shops, supermarkets and other establishments, but below are some spots with a collection of a wide variety of origami where you can appreciate origami works.

Tokyo Origami Museum (Tokyo)

The Tokyo Origami Museum houses a permanent exhibition hall for appreciating origami works, and a reference room where origami-related books are gathered, among other areas. The shop sells books related to origami and various origami papers.

Tokyo Origami Museum (Tokyo)

1-31-5 Honjo, Sumida-ku, Tokyo

Origami Kaikan (Tokyo)

Origami Kaikan is a facility that is operated by Yushima no Kobayashi, a shop selling dyed paper and Edo chiyogami. Here, you can familiarize yourself in washi culture such as origami. At the mezzanine floor, there are rows of colorful works that were made in the workshop.

Origami Kaikan (Tokyo)

1-7-14 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

Nippon Origami Museum (Chiba)

Nippon Origami Museum is an origami museum that is located on the 3rd floor of Narita Airport Terminal 1, Central Building. Here, you will encounter authentic works such as flowers, dinosaurs and other origami pieces fashioned as a diorama, as well as artistic origami pieces. They also sell a lot of origami with beautiful patterns.

Nippon Origami Museum (Chiba)

In the Narita International Airport, Goryo-bokujo, Sanrizuka, Narita-shi, Chiba

Watch this video how to fold a Shuriken


The folding techniques used in origami are now being applied in various fields such as medical science, man-made satellite solar panels and consumer electronics. Now origami may be manifesting a marked evolution in terms of use, but it only started as a simple game. So, make sure to try it!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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