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History of Origami: Origami in Daily Life

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

0. Origami is Here

If you live in Japan, you might come up with Origami somewhere. Origami is used in various scenes in the society of Japan. Let's have a look at Origami in daily life.

1. Origami in Education

[8-1] Origami paper

As you see in Origami in the Past, Origami was introduced to education at the end of the 1800s.
Although it disappeared from the official curriculum after WW2, Origami keeps popular among children in kindergartens and elementary schools.
That's why sometimes Origami reminds people who grew up in Japan of some memories in their childhood. (Reference)

[8-2] Modular origami

In recent years, Origami is getting used as teaching material for math education.
For example, by making a plane figure like an equilateral triangle, students can easily understand its geometrical properties.
Also, by assembling pieces of paper, students can easily make polygons and easily perceive their properties which are difficult to imagine by pictures on textbooks.

8-1  origami paper by Tania & Artur on Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (Retrieved 8 March, 2021)
8-2  Origami 014.jpg by praaeew on Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0 (Retrieved 8 March, 2021)

2. Origami in Rehabilitation

[8-3] Crane made of Origami pieces

If you live in Japan, you might see Origami works like [8-3] displayed on a gate of senior citizens' homes.
To make Origami models, you need various abilities. For instance, you need to keep the goal in mind, to check the steps, to guess the motion of the sheet, and to move your fingers as you imagine.
On the other hand, to make Origami, you don't have to set up some special tools.
Thanks to these properties, Origami is used for rehabilitation for people who have some troubles in cognitive capacity or physical functions.

8-3  photo on piqsels (Retrieved 8 March, 2021)

3. Origami in Annual Events

[8-4] Kabuto (兜, samurai helmet)

Origami is also used as ornaments for annual events.

For example, some people decorate their Christmas trees with Origami ornaments. Likewise, some people decorate bamboo trees with Origami for tanabata (七夕) festival on July 7th.

May 5th is Children's day, one of the national holidays of Japan. Families traditionally display gogatsu ningyo (五月人形), dolls of brave samurai, and koinobori (鯉のぼり), banners of carps. Kabuto (兜), an Origami model of a samurai helmet like [8-4], is among those icons of Children's day. Children make kabuto and wear it like a hat.

These annual events are also good opportunities to enjoy Origami.

8-4   on みたにっき@はてな (Retrieved 8 March, 2021)

4. Origami in Prayer

[8-5] Thousand cranes

Perhaps you might know the word 'sembazuru (千羽鶴),' a string ornament of assembled orizuru (折り鶴).

Sembazuru literally means a thousand cranes.
In east Asian countries, people have a traditional belief that cranes have 1000-years-long life. So cranes are thought to be symbols of happiness and longevity.
That's why sometimes sembazuru is given to a person in the hospital.

[8-6] Children's Peace Monument

Besides, sembazuru is associated with peace.
Some people might know the story of Sadako and the thousand paper cranes.
On August 6th, 1945, Sasaki Sadako (佐々木禎子) was exposed to the heat ray from the atomic bomb in Hiroshima at the age of 2. When she was 11 years old, she got suffered from leukemia. She was impressed by sembazuru in the hospital and she made orizurus every day with prayer for her recovery and her family's happiness until she died at the age of 12.
Sadako's death moved her classmates and they carried out the movement to build a memorial monument for children who died due to the Atomic bomb. Finally, their movement resulted in the construction of Children's Peace Monument in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
This story was widely known across the world, so orizuru and sembazuru turned to be a symbol of peace.
Barack Obama is the first US president who visited Hiroshima. When he visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in May 2016, he folded 4 Orizurus with messages for peace.
Many sembazurus are presented from around the world to Hiroshima and Nagasaki every year.

8-5  20210131 Nishio 6 by Bon Grit on Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (Retrieved 8 March, 2021)
8-6  原爆の子の像 by Richard, enjoy my life! on Flicr / CC BY-SA 2.0 (Retrieved 8 March, 2021)
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. (n.d.). 平成13年度第1回企画展 サダコと折り鶴. (Retrieved 8 March, 2021) *in Japanese
Kyosuke, M. (2016). Paper cranes folded by President Obama go on display at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The Chugoku Shimbun, June 8 morning ed. (Retrieved 8 March, 2021) *in English

5. Origami in International Communication

[8-7] Origami workshop

Origami is a good tool for international communication.

Origami has many properties useful to hold recreational events.

  • It doesn't need some special tools.
  • It is easy to make without physical power.
  • The model you made can be a memento.
  • It's a good chance to communicate with each other to teach them how to fold.

Kyushu University Library held Origami lectures as international communication events and many international students enjoyed Origami.

8-7  Kyushu University Library. (20 November, 2019). 【Central Library】Welcome to our Origami Workshop!!. (Retrieved 2 December, 2019) *in English.


(All materials were retrieved on 8 March, 2021)

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.

Eiko, M. (2019). A Study on the Use of Origami in School Education in Japan − Regarding the circumstances around the disappearance of Origami from the Courses of Study for Elementary Schools and a Study of Nursing Guidelines in the post war era –. Bulletin of the Graduate School, Toyo University, 55, 249-269. *in Japanese. An abstract in English is available.

Toshiko, I., & Chiaki, N. (2010). Origami and Preschool Education : Through Teaching Origami in the Affiliate Kindergarten. Bulletin : Tsukuba International Junior College, 38, 17-27. *in Japanese.

Yoshiko, U., & Airi, K. (2016). How do teachers teach Origami play:questionnaire survey to teachers of pre-and nursery schools. Konan Women's University studies in human sciences, 52, 51-58. *in Japanese. An abstract in English is available.