Do you know “Origami” which is one of Japanese traditional play?

By folding a piece of paper, you can make various shapes such as animals, seasonal decorations and flowers.

Origami is the most familiar to most of Japanese children, isn’t it?

Moreover, you’ve been fond of it not only at home but also at a kindergarten or an elementary school.

Surprisingly, Origami is very popular all over the world today.

Why are people outside of Japan interested in origami?

This page shows you the history of Origami playing and describe the attractions.

The History of Origami

It’s said that the invention of paper manufacturing came to Japan from the China in the beginning of seventh century.

Following that, Japanese arranged the way to manufacture paper and the handmade Japanese paper was started to use for wrapping ritual offerings to gods.

The law of etiquette* arose during the Muromachi period(1336-1573) and it included the manner of wrapping paper.

The gift wrapping traditions have and are still used today such as Noshi, wrapping paper for celebration gifts.

As the production of paper became more efficient during the Edo period(1603-1868), not only nobility but also ordinary people became playing with paper.

This is the origin of Origami.

Origami has been used in many kindergartens, nurseries and schools since the Meiji period(1868-1912) and in the present day, it is used even in other countries.

※The Law of Etiquette:
It was established by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga for samurai family in the era of Muromachi(1336-1573). Orgami was included in that law, but nowadays origami etiquette is not commonly practiced and it is rather used more for entertainment and playing among people.

The Way of Making Origami Paper

There are two different ways of producing origami paper. One is that the
paper would be colored before cut.

Another way is that the paper is cut at first, and then colored.

The most general paper to produce Origami today is the one made in the Western way because it saves costs as the machine can produce a huge amount at once.

On the other hand, Origami made by Japanese paper differs from the western paper in terms that a craftsman colors it piece by piece.

Japanese paper has large varieties such as Yuzenshi, Itajimeshi, and Sarasashi. They all have different characteristics.

After colored, paper is sorted in order before it is cut.

This process is done by the machine, however, it is sometimes done the craftsman’s hands for a special order.

After corrected in the right order, each colored paper would be cut into prescribed size. Even a machine cuts the paper, small adjustments are always done by a craftsman.

Finally, paper would be packed with labels such as barcode for sales, and the origami would be shipped.

Co. Toyo, selling the best brand of origami paper in Japan provides tours of its factory for junior and high school students in Tochigi prefecture.

People from other prefectures are allowed to take a tours as well if they are in groups of more than 10 people.

If you want to have a look at the factory, please contact them with following inquiry form as soon as possible .

Advantages and What You Can Learn by Playing Origami

Now, what is the attraction of Origami?

First of all, origami does not require a lot of space.

We can carry out it easily, and it also does not cost so much.

Moreover, we have a chance to play with their children/grandchildren as teaching them how to play with origami.

It will be fun while they communicate each other through folding the origami.

It can help that children grow mentally through folding origami together with friends.

In addition, we can pray for someone through folding origami as well.

For instance, a thousand origami cranes, which are sent to disaster areas or to sick people, contain the wish for recovering from the person who folded it.

In that case, the origami symbolizes sympathy.

We can also pray for children to grow up in good health by folding origami on the specific important date such as 3rd of March, which is the girl’s festival, and 5th of May ,Children’s day in Japan.

We wouldn’t get bored because there are so many varieties of origami, and we can find origami kits and Japanese paper origami at ordinary shops.

Character origami kits are popular as children can make recreate their favorite characters easily.

Recently it was found that the act of making an origami can have several psychological effects on people.

Origami is taken positively in medical institutions and nursing facilities because folding origami lead to stimuli to patient’s brains while using their fingers.

In the old days, the purpose of origami was just folding and playing, but today there are a lot of academic studies about origami.

For example, it shows that origami contains mathematics practice.

If you open the completed origami after folding, you can see many different figures such as isosceles triangle, vertical bisectors and bisector of an angle.

Moreover, the geometric features of an origami has been studied in the field of mathematics, and it applies to structural mechanics too.

Here, the parts of brain which we use to fold origami and its effects.

Parts in brain
What you need when you make origami
Occipital lobe
Deal with information received by your eyes
Temporal lobe
Recognize colors and shapes
Parietal lobe
Understand the balance of the shape from all angles
Frontal lobe
Make movements with fingertips

In addition, you might lessen your stress thorough concentrating on folding origami.

You also have to use your imagination to complete origami folding.

Your sense of color would be trained while you use many different colors of origami.

Additionally, you can train your spatial awareness while making complicated structures .

Origami in The World

Origami is well known not only in Japan but also throughout the whole world.

An internet website from US offers people online origami lessons and people can also download folding images with a charge.

For example, we can buy the folding map of a Samurai helmet for 2 US dollars.

Dinosauria costs 4 US dollars!

It is very convenient system for those who want to choose the specific shapes to make.

Details are the following.

In British, “British Origami Society”(BOS) has more than 700 members holding origami lessons and even conventions.

The library of BOS has more than 4000 books and magazines about origami. Some British seem to love origami.

In Australia, where there are many studies made about origami like Japan, people can buy a large variety of origami such as yuzenwashi (Japanese paper), with polka dots and anime characters.

Australian researchers also focus on the effects of mindfulness which people can concentrate on only what is happening in the moment.

Mindfulness means that we recognize our own mental condition, and also means meditation, which is observed to lessen our daily stress.

Recently it is said that mindfulness can regulate balance of our automatic nervous system.

As you can see, origami has been familiar to both children and adults throughout whole world.

Websites Which You Find How to Fold Origami Easily

We usually make origami at home, if there is no origami class nearby or if it is difficult to go out due to having small children at home.

However it is sometimes hard to understand what the folding map says. ‘mountain fold’ and ‘vary fold’ are easy, but if sounds like ‘you open this bag and break down’ or ‘pull this angle’…don’t you think they would be confusing and make you quit folding origami?

In such cases, movies on YouTube are useful for us to complete one origami.

I will introduce you a couple of YouTube accounts which show how to hold not too fast.

Origami Club

This account is an official channel of “Origami club”, which shows many kinds of items. It has also its own website.

You can find many animals and other items which are divided by groups such as ‘creatures in the water’ , “Animals” or ‘Halloween’.

There are also animations on this website so that small children may easily understand the steps of origami too.

You can make such an aquarium thorough this web page!

Origami Ako Channel

In this channel, a lot of origami which relevant to events such as girl’s day( it may be unique holiday in Japan) and Christmas are introduced.

Also, the title and explanations are written in English too.

Origami Spots in Japan

If you would like to not only to fold origami, but also to observe some professional works, there are some places where your wish will be fulfilled.

Origami Museum

This museum is the biggest Origami Museum as it has a huge amount of works.

We can see around five thousand of different varieties, and in total there are 100,000 pieces of Origami.

Why don’t you come over if you have a chance?

Address : 2floor in the sweets store, Kamocho8-90-1 Kaga city Ishikawa
Telephone number :+81- 0761-77-2500
Opening time: 8:00~17:00
Entrance fee : Adult 500yen、 Junior 400yen、 over 3 years old and ground school students 300yen
Holiday : Depends on the sweets store on the ground floor.

Ochanomizu Origami Hall

Besides a gallery and lessons, here we can buy beautiful origami and it also offers intern student from oversea.

Address: Yushima1-7-14 Bunkyo Tokyo
Telephone number: +81-03-3811-4025
Opening time: 8:30~18:00(the gallery : 10:00~17:30)
Entrance fee: free
Holiday: Sunday, public holiday, summer holiday and new year’s holiday

Origami Museum in Tokyo

There is an archive, so you can check documents about origami besides buying books of origami and new origami.

Address: Honjo1-31-5 Sumida Tokyo
Telephone number: +81-03-3625-1161
Opening time: 9:30~17:30
Entrance fee: free
Holiday: Sunday (Monday when the Sunday is public holiday), public holiday, new year’s holiday

Origami House

This is a gallery beside publishing office. You can also buy origami here.

Origami class is also held irregularly at the JOAS Hall next to the gallery.

Address: Hakusan1-33-8-216 Bunkyo Tokyo
Telephone number: +81-03-5684-6040
Opening time: Weekday 12:00~15:00 Weekend 10:00~18:00
Entrance fee: free
Holiday: new year’s holiday

Conclusion

Origami is simple and casual as we know since our childhood, but now we also understand about its long history, advantages, and positive effects.

▶ Originally it was used as a paper for wrapping the offerings to gods, then people started to play with the paper.

▶ There are two different way to produce the origami paper. Both ways need hand work by professional workers.

▶ Origami does not need much space and is easy to do. We can promote our friendships by folding origami together, and we can also pray for other people during making origami.

▶ Because origami needs your fingers in order to do small and detailed work, our brains get trained during the folding process. Making origami can thus improve your concentration, imagination, a sense of color, and spatial awareness.

▶ There are a lot of people who is familiar with origami positively in the world.

▶ You can check out origami museums.

Nowadays “Origami” fascinates people not only Japanese but also foreigners.

With your children, with your partner or friends, why don’t you try to fold origami?

Sometimes it is also fun without TV.

I’m sure you will enjoy folding origami by saying ‘Oh it’s so difficult!!’ or ‘It’s very interesting!!’.

Let’s try the origami with folding maps and movies which kinds of shapes you have not tried yet.

You will get the feeling of achievement when you complete one!