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Goin’ Japanesque!

Paper Cutout Kirie Artwork: A Collection of Awe Inspiring Craftsmanship

Kirie is one of the traditional “pictorial” techniques used in Japan. Typically this art form is conducted by cutting black paper and pasting it on a white backing to express a work of art. The black and white contrasts which are paired with the slits made by a sharp blade are thoughtful, and have many fans. This art form has evolved over the years and today may include more color, or be influenced by anime or other pop culture references. For this article, we focused on three “kirishi (kirie masters)” whose skills are renowned as god-level within the kirie industry. We hope you enjoy these masterpieces.


Jiro Takidaira

An artist famous for his Japanese fairytale illustrations. Many of his pieces are very traditionally Japanese, and have a nostalgic feel to them. His illustrations are used in a large collection of children’s books commonly read by Japanese in their childhood, and we suspect most Japanese have probably come across them at one point. His work has been passed down over the years, and read by many generations even today.



Sumo, Ref: 滝平二郎 きりえ「こどもの四季」


Akira Nagaya

Mr. Nagaya’s ability to create lines as thin as thread is breathtakingly beautiful, and because his work is so delicate he is even able to recreate kanji calligraphy characters. He initially became interested in the art of kirie when he became mesmerized by the sushi chefs creating the “Sasa Baran”, decoratively cut bamboo leaves for garnishing sushi.

*Sasa Baran: Green bamboo leaves (sasa), often seen as garnish in an assortment of sushi. This serves as both a decoration and a divider to keep foods separate. Nowadays, it is more often made out of materials other than bamboo, but its origins are real bamboo leaves.
Related: Sasa-giri: A Traditional Craft of Leaf Cutting that Makes Sushi Shine




SouMa began playing around with kirie in primary school, and has created numerous masterpieces referred to as being made by the hand of god. Since she does not have a fine arts or design background, all her pieces are created purely by her sense of style, which gives her work a uniquely ingenious style. All of her pieces are made using a single sheet of paper, and her ability to create three-dimensional features with that is mind boggling.


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