Origami ( 折り紙 ) is the art of paper folding, the verb form ‘oru’ as in fold and the noun form ‘kami’ as in paper. According to some articles online, paper folding first appeared in China after the invention of paper. The simple art of folding later spread to the noble and rich people in Japan as paper were expensive at that time. The oldest book on origami is the ‘Hiden Senbazuru Orikata’, translated to English as ‘The Secret of One Thousand Cranes Origami’. There is an old saying that if you make a thousand cranes origami, your wish may come true one day.
Nowadays, people can make origami models from a variety of papers, including the banknote. In this article, I’d like to introduce the traditional Japanese paper with different colorful designs and patterns on it. These papers are known as Edo Chiyogami.
Tsubakimon ( 椿文 )
These are patterns of the camellia flowers, known as ‘tsubaki’ in Japanese. It gives the image of spring coming and is often used in many designs and crafts like kimonos or kitchenware.
Genji-guruma ( 源氏車 )
These are patterns of wheels on carriages used by court nobles in the history of Japan. It gives the image of elegance and class and is also used in clothing designs.
Kozakura ( 小桜 )
These patterns are known as small cherry blossoms. According to historical articles, papers with these printed patterns were best sellers among the noblemen in the Edo period.
Sekka ( 雪花 )
Snowflakes were traditionally used in Japanese songs and poems. They were described as flowers, soft and delicate. These snowflakes patterns were later modernized in order to suit the western tastes and to promote the Japanese craftsmanship to the outside world.
Dojoji ( 道成寺 )
These patterns come from Kabuki costumes designs, specifically the Noh play Dojoji. It is said that these patterns contains good fortune and may have the power to tame evil spirits.
Origami Booklet Using Edo Chiyogami by Kazuo Kobayashi.