Monday, 10 April 2017

Folding Fun at the International Origami Center

For origami fans in the Tokyo area, there is one spot that simply cannot be missed: Ochanomizu Origami Kaikan, also known as the International Origami Center. 

Not just a place to view countless works or origami, visitors also have the chance to participate in workshops, shop for origami-related goods, and even see traditional Japanese paper being made right before their eyes! 

This is not only the first origami center in Japan, but the first in the world. I visited Origami Kaikan to learn more about Japan’s famous paper-folding art form.

Origami, the traditional Japanese art of paper-folding, has become known worldwide. From intricately folded flowers to frogs that can literally jump, Japan seems to have perfected the art of the paper craft. Origami can be found in many areas of Japanese culture. The origami crane, for example, is a symbol of hope and healing. 

It is said that 1,000 paper cranes bring all kinds of luck–such as happiness and prosperity to a newly-wedded couple, or long life when given to a newborn baby. Another tradition that incorporates origami is the Girls’ Day custom of Nagashi-bina, which involves setting dolls, many of which are made with origami, afloat on a river. At the International Origami Center, I was able to see these types of origami, along with many others on display.

Ochanomizu Origami Kaikan

The company that manages Ochanomizu Origami Kaikan, Yushima No Kobayashi Co. Ltd., has been in the business of traditional Japanese paper, known as ‘washi,’ since 1858. The company introduced the world’s first educational origami paper (the colorful square sheets found in stationery shops across Japan).
This tradition of producing high quality washi has continued for over 150 years. Even today, the paper is produced in the factory located within Origami Kaikan, which visitors have the chance to see firsthand. Origami Kaikan has been recognized as one of the “Six Cultural Treasures” of Bunkyo Ward in Tokyo. Incredibly, admission to the center is free of charge.

Written by: Holly Neslusan

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