by Bryce Marley
The Japanese art of paper folding is a beautiful sight to see, from the simplest crane to entire zoos of animals all intricately made, it's a beautiful art from from Japan. Today let's look at the history, where to get into it in Japan, and learn how to make a few.
The origins of origami date back to the 17th century, where many ancient Japanese poems have noted paper animals, such as butterflies, in shinto weddings which were used to represent the bride and groom. However there is references in history that date back even further to 794-1185AD about Samurai warriors exchanging gifts adorned with "noshi", which was a good luck token that is crafted from folded strips of paper.
Modern origami originates from the early decades of the 1900's, where two Japanese men, Akira Yoshizawa and Kosho Uchiyama, began creating origami works and recording them. They pioneered many of the standard origami folds used in most creations today. Although in the 1980's and 90's, many started studying the mathematical properties of folds to make more complex origami, but many origami designers went back to the simpler folds, as the classic ones have held up through time.
When traveling through Japan you will see origami around, for various reasons. The biggest one you will see, repeatedly, is the classic crane. In Japan the origami crane is seen as a symbol of good luck, and it is believed that 1000 paper cranes will make your wishes come true. So many Japanese make and give sick relatives 1000 paper cranes to wish them a fast recovery.
The crane is also a symbol for peace in Japan. So when you're visiting the Hiroshima and Nagasaki peace parks, you will find thousands of paper cranes around, many in big ropes, as a tribute to the park and peace for Japan.
Another great place to check out some amazing Origami creations is the Origami museum at Narita Airport! Located in Terminal 1, 3rd floor. If you have a flight leaving here, its a must see. Be sure to get to the airport early to save some time for this!
So keep your eyes peeled when wandering around Japan, you don't know where you might see some origami!
Origami Kaikan in Tokyo exhibits many forms of origami, and here and you can make your own! It's a large space dedicated to the art, where you can learn to make your own pieces and you can watch skilled Japanese masters make the finest paper from scratch.
Origami Kaikan is open Monday to Saturday, 9am - 6pm and is located at 1-7-14 Yushima Bunkyō-ku. Take the Marunouchi line train and get off at Ochanomizu, and take exit 1 from the station.
Start making Origami
Now you probably want to try your skills at some origami now, sorry about that! Don't fret - here are some instructions on how to make some of Japlanning's favourite origami's!
Lets start with the classic crane - Master this and you can leave one while in Japan!
Another classic is the Ninja Star (Shuriken), which is a quick and easy one to put together
Perhaps what you need is a majestic butterfly.. in paper form!
Want instant water fight? here is how to make a origami water balloon!
And just in time for the holidays, make your own origami Christmas Tree!
Origami has a rich history in Japan, and you can buy amazing papers while there too. Be sure to keep your eyes out for some intricate and complex creations throughout Japan, and witness the beauty of them in masses at the peace park. Such a simple art form leave a beautiful mark on this country.
Have you ever given Origami a shot? What are some of your favourite creations?
Tell us in the comments below, or on facebook!