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Goin’ Japanesque!

Hopes for Peace Embedded in the Traditional Paper Craft of Origami

Do you know what November 11 stands for? It is an unusual date made of 4 numerals of 1 lined up and it feels like a special day. This is the day World War I ended in 1918, and the day the actor Leonard DiCaprio was born in 1974. It is also the day for Japanese snacks Pocky & Pretz, and also “Origami Day” established by the Nippon Origami Association. This time we would like to introduce origami paper-folding in association with the Origami Day. Title photo by flickr

 

What is Origami?

Origami is one of Japan’s traditional pastimes of creating various shapes representing animals, plants and other things using paper. There are many different ways of folding from easy to very hard to complete. It is a highly creative craft with infinite variations, including possibilities of new creations to be made.

It is said that papermaking techniques had been brought to Japan and paper production started around the 6th century, thus a similar way of passing time may have started then. However, the origin of origami is apparently not clear.

Origami was one of the first pastimes taught in this author’s childhood, and there is a strong impression that it was handed down as a pastime in Japanese people’s lives since ancient times. In addition, as I hear origami play has taken root not only in Japan but also overseas, I wonder if it is a very familiar pastime for humans in general.

Though origami is such a familiar craft, it has profound charm. We would like to present a few works of origami, ranging from common, easy-to-make pieces to highly skillful artistic pieces in order to observe its charm.

 

1. Crane

origami-crane
Photo by flickr

 

2. Shuriken (Ninja Throwing Stars)

origami-throwing-star
Writer’s Photo

 

3. Kabuto (Warriors’ Helmets)

origami-kabuto
Writer’s Photo

 

4. Frogs

origami-frog
Photo by flickr

 

5. Flowers

origami-flower
Writer’s Photo

 

6. Roses

origami-rose
Photo by flickr

 

7. Wolf

origami-wolf
Photo by flickr

 

8. Hippopotamuses

origami-hippopotamus
Photo by flickr

 

9. People

origami-people
Photo by flickr

When you play origami, the fact that you can produce anything infinitely from only one sheet of paper would frankly impress you. In addition, you can use any material so long as you can fold it. Since origami is an enjoyable craft for people across generations from children to adults, we would like to recommend it for many different people.

 

By the way, why was November 11 selected for “Origami Day”? According to the Nippon Origami Association, there are two reasons for the selection.

The first reason comes from the fact that the date is comprised of 4 numeric symbols of 1. When we assume this numeric “1” refers to one side of a square, 4 of them make a square, just like a sheet of origami with 4 sides.

The second reason is related to the World War I, as mentioned in the first part of this article. This is the day that Armistice of 11 November 1918 was signed and many people in the world today celebrate this day by offering prayer for universal peace. This is in common with origami, which is folded while praying for peace.

 

We strongly hope this craft is handed down across generations around the world into the distant future, together with people’s wishes for peace that is woven into origami.

Related Articles:
1000 Paper Cranes: Origami that Commemorates Survivors of the Atomic Bomb
Paper Cutout Kirie Artwork: A Collection of Awe Inspiring Craftsmanship
Japanese Snacks: November 11, “Pocky & Pretz Day” Is Coming Soon!

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KAWATA

About the author

I'm interested in general in all things related to culture and fine arts with a focus on movies, art, and design. I hope to introduce to many people all the different sides to Japan in regards to Japanese culture.

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