8 Ways to Enjoy Origami like Japanese People!

8 Ways to Enjoy Origami like Japanese People!

Of all Japan’s cultural exports, outside of the martial arts, origami is surely one of the best known and most widely practiced. It has its roots in 6th century Japan when Buddhist monks introduced paper from China, but paper-folding was known by various names until the late 19th century when the word origami was coined, possibly because its written characters were easier for children to read. It was popularised in the West in the 1950s through the work of Akira Yoshizawa. But for the Japanese, particularly young children, origami is as much a part of life and we never really lose the basic ability or desire for paper-craft as we get older. My foreign friends are often surprised that I take the trouble to fold the end of lavatory paper, protruding from its dispenser, into a neat triangle, but I do this quite unconsciously. So, here are eight suggestions for becoming an origami black-belt!



 

8 Ways to Enjoy Origami like Japanese People!

 

1. Getting Started

With the huge growth of interest in origami and its continued popularity in Japan, there’s a plethora of books and starter packs available in a many languages. Becoming familiar and competent with the basic folds is an essential first step!

 

2. Inspiration

The range of beautifully colored, printed and textured origami papers (washi) in traditional Japanese paper-craft stores is inspiring, whilst Tokyu Hands department stores have an even more amazing range of paper-craft items, as well as many floors of gorgeous and uniquely Japanese lifestyle goods. There are stores throughout Tokyo, including Shibuya and Ginza.

 

3. Togetherness

For parents and Grandparents, origami with youngsters is very rewarding. It is a fun and creative pastime that helps young children develop hand-eye coordination and better concentration, as well as cementing family bonds. But it’s also contemplative, which is probably why those early Buddhist monks took to it so readily.

 

4. Tokens of Respect

The custom of making origami figures for ceremonial or religious events continues today for many of our festivals, as well as at Christmas. A friend of mine set places at her daughter’s wedding reception with little origami animals denoting the year of birth, by the Chinese calendar, of each guest. Guests sharing the same birth year received even more personally stylized animals.

 

5. Tokens of Affection

We Japanese are great gift givers and can be quite creative in the way we present, or wrap, gifts for special people in our lives. Origami gift boxes and containers of all kinds are well known, while others decorate their gifts further with ornate 3D origami designs. But at its simplest level, everyone appreciates a delicately crafted origami bird from a loved one.

 

6. Time for Action

Once you’ve mastered the basics and can produce an origami bird, you’ll want to give it wings that flap when you pull its tail. But there are many other types of ‘action origami’ where models can be animated in some way: pecking beaks, hopping frogs and fortune tellers are some of the most popular and easy to make.

 

7. Wet Folding

Some origami artists use thicker than usual paper, dampened so as to allow for smoothing or rounding the edges of folds, giving a more natural sculpted appearance to animal figures.

 

8. Modular Designs

Modular origami is an advanced method of building 3D models that couldn’t be made using a single sheet of paper. Instead, individual components are crafted then assembled together to form the whole. Some 3d origami can have stunning complexity, but simpler designs are possible for people who have mastered the basics.

 

Conclusion

As I mentioned, origami has been an important part of the artistic expression of the Japanese for centuries, so much so that I think we actually take it for granted. But advanced mathematical studies of paper folding techniques have resulted in some remarkable technological advances, including folds for deploying car airbags, cardio-vascular ‘stent’ implants and solar power panels for satellites. There are even plans for a space-launched origami aeroplane! Who would have thought a little paper bird could inspire all that.

 

8 Ways to Enjoy Origami like Japanese People!

1. Getting Started
2. Inspiration
3. Togetherness
4. Tokens of Respect
5. Tokens of Affection
6. Time for Action
7. Wet Folding
8. Modular Designs