Origami is the Japanese art of paperfolding. “Ori” is the Japanese word for folding and “kami” is the Japanese word for paper but, in fact, origami began in China in the first or second century and then spread to Japan sometime during the sixth century.

At first, there was very little paper available so only the rich could afford to do paperfolding. The Japanese found useful purposes for their origami. For example, the Samurai would exchange gifts with a form known as a noshi. This was a paper folded with a strip of dried fish or meat. It was considered a good luck token. Shinto Noblemen would celebrate weddings by wrapping glasses of sake or rice wine in butterfly forms that had been folded to represent the bride and groom. As paper became less expensive, origami became a popular art for everyone.

For hundreds of years, there were no written directions for folding origami models. The directions were taught to each generation and then handed down to the next. In 1797, How to Fold 1000 Cranes was published. This book contained the first written set of origami instructions. In 1845, another book, Window on Midwinter, was published which included a collection of approximately 150 origami models. This book introduced the model of the frog which is a very well-known model even today. With the publication of both these books, the folding of origami became recreation in Japan.

Japanese children all learn to fold origami and it’s a favourite at the Whistler Multicultural Festival and at Christmas. We’ve made flowers, frogs, bookmarks and, of course, cranes.

Not enough space here to include instructions, but if you’re interested try this website on how to fold all types.