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History of Origami: Detour to Germany

Let's go on the journey with us to see the Origami's history from the past to the present.

Why Germany?

[4-1] Fröbel

Far away from Japan, we are arriving in Germany.

Here, I will show you a movement by Fröbel, a German educationist in the 19th century.

What relation is there between him and Origami?

4-1 Frederick Froebel on Library of Congress (Retrieved 8 March, 2021)

Froebel and "Das Falten"

[4-2] Examples of 'Gabe'

Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel (1782-1852) is a German educationist in the 19th century. Deeply influenced by religious and philosophical thoughts at that time, he developed his unique educational philosophy.

He put much importance on early childhood education. In 1840, he founded the educational facility for young children, which is known as the first Kindergarten in the world.

Fröbel thought playing and activity as important parts of early childhood education. He created various educational toys, which he named 'Gabe.' Among Fröbel's Gabe, there are some toys like building blocks and colored yarn balls, which are still known as educational toys even today.

Creating Gabe, Fröbel generated the activity named 'Das Falten.' Its name means 'the fold' in English, and it is the activity to make shapes of various things by folding a sheet of paper.

[4-3] "Das Falten"

[4-3] shows pictures of "Das Falten" on pages of the book by Fröbel.
Some of you might get surprised by this, for these pictures have the same models as the models which are known as Densho Origami in Japan today.
For example, model No. 10 on the left picture is known as the famous model of 'hokakebune (帆掛け船, a sailboat).'
Also, model No. 22 on the right picture is known as 'buta (豚, a pig).'

In the late 1800s, these models left Germany and came to Japan.
So now let's go back to Japan right in the middle of its modernization.

4-2  Friedrich Fröbel- Construction kit- 1782-1852- SINA Facsimil-dhub.jpg by Kippelboy on Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 (Retrieved 8 March, 2021)
4-3  Das Falten on Data Base Friedrich Fröbel (Retrieved 8 March, 2021)
Minoru, M. (1995). Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel (フレーベル). In Encyclopedia nipponica 2001 (2nd ed.). Tokyo: Shogakukan. *in Japanese


The information on the articles of 'Origami in the past' is based on the reference below. They were all retrieved on 8 March, 2021.

Etsuro, B. (1995). Origami (折り紙). In Encyclopedia nipponica 2001 (2nd ed.). Tokyo: Shogakukan. *in Japanese

National Diet Library. (November, 2008). 第151回常設展示 本の中の「おりがみ」.  *in Japanese

Masao, O. The History of Origami in Japan. Web-site of Japan Origami Academic Society. *in English

Yuko, I. (2012). A Study of History of Origami and Origami as Childcare Teaching Materials. Urawa Ronso (浦和大学『浦和論叢』), 46, 45-68. *in Japanese. An abstract in English is available.