Browse: Popteen Blog » Culture Channel»Japanese Traditional Culture: Origami Art

Japanese Traditional Culture: Origami Art

japanese origami art

japanese origami art

Origami has a long history and was originally not for children at all in Japan. Like many things in Japanese culture, origami (from “oru” meaning to fold, and “kami” meaning paper) has its origins in China. It is believed that paper was first made, and folded, in China in the first or second century. The earliest records of origami in Japan date to the Heian Period (794-1185). It was during this period that Japan’s nobility had its golden age and it was a time of great artistic and cultural advances. Paper was still a rare enough comodity that origami was a pastime for the elite. Paper was folded into set shapes for ceremonial occasions such as weddings. Serrated strips of white paper were used to mark sacred objects, a custom which can still be seen in every shrine to this day.

It was in the Edo Period (1600-1868) that much of today’s popular traditional culture developed as forms of entertainment for the merchant classes and the common people. Kabuki and ukiyo-e are just two examples and origami also gained poularity. By the mid-19th century, 70 or more different designs had been created. But aside from its ceremonial use, its popularity has been in decline since the Meiji Period (1886-1912) and the modernization of Japan.

In the mid-1950s, 11-year old Sasaki Sadako developed leukemia as a result of her exposure to radiation as a baby during the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. Tradition held that if you made a senbazuru (a thousand paper cranes) and made a wish after completing each one, your wish would come true. Sadako set about making the tsuru, wishing for her own recovery. But as she continued, she began to wish instead for world peace. She died when she had made only 644 and her school friends completed the full number and dedicated them to her at her funeral. The story helped inspire the Children’s Peace Memorial in Hiroshima and a statue of Sadako in Seattle. Each year on Peace Day (August 6th), thousands of origami tsuru are sent to Hiroshima by chidren all over the world. There are too many folding steps in making a tsuru for me to describe simply here and lots of sites already provide this and many other ideas (see the links below).

In more recent times, the Internet has helped spread the word about Japanese culture, both the long-hidden aspects and the things that western people had heard of but knew little about. Origami is one such facet that lends itself to the visual medium. Designs can be explained in line diagrams or photos and, with practice, can be mastered by anyone. The next step, as with any art form, is to find a topic or field that appeals and develop your own style. In the words of Yoshizawa Akira, the ‘acknowledged grandmaster of origami, the father of modern creative origami’:

“You can fold a simple quadrilateral paper into any shape as you want. I wished to fold the laws of nature, the dignity of life, and the expression of affection into my work…Folding life is difficult, because life is a shape or an appearance caught in a moment, and we need to feel the whole of natural life to fold one moment.” (from Joseph Wu’s Origami Page)



Ok Popteen Magazine Guys it's your turn to tell me what you think, ask a question or suggest a great tip. Don't forget the comments policy and I'm looking forward to reading what you have to say. It is your time, do cherish it and talk NOW!

Wow, No comments yet! Want to be the first one to talk?

Leave a Reply





Popteen Magazine, a High Fashion Style at www.blog.popteen.net