November 2018


Our monthly online newsletter,"L'ESPACE".
L'ESPACE is a diverse French word that means place,area,cosmos,and gap.

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Spreading All Over the World: "Origami"

Glen went to visit his friend from college, Keiko, at her place. Some 1,000 paper cranes she had up as decorations in the corner of the room caught his eye.

Those 1,000 paper cranes are really colorful and pretty. Who made them?
Glen
Well, when I was in high school, I broke my leg and was hospitalized for a while. At that time, all the members of the basketball team worked together to make them and gave them to me, wishing for my recovery.
Keiko
I've made 1,000 paper cranes before, too. When I was in elementary school, after we learned the story of "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes," the whole class worked together to fold them and send them to Hiroshima. American children aren't used to folding origami, so it was really tough for us to make them.
Glen
Paper cranes are definitely the most well-known form of Japanese origami. Have you ever folded anything else?
Keiko
In middle school, when I took a Japanese class, the Japanese assistant teacher taught me a lot of things. I remember how excited we all got about the paper airplanes and shuriken we made ourselves.
Glen
My mom worked as a nursery school teacher, and she knew a lot about origami. She used to fold things for me and let me watch. I was always wide-eyed in amazement when she transformed a single sheet of paper into pretty flowers or cute animals.
Keiko
Origami is known and enjoyed all over the world now, but when did it first start in Japan?
Glen
I've heard that origami was originally a paper-folding technique used for wrapping offerings to gods and other important gifts. Origami as a fun activity like we know it now first spread to lots of people in the Edo period. Then in the Meiji period, when origami was introduced in preschool and elementary school as part of the school curriculum, it started becoming more and more popular.
Keiko

The two of them continue talking while drinking tea.

Now, origami is more than just a fun activity or part of an educational program. It's being used for different applications in a variety of different fields.
Glen
That's right. When you fold paper with your fingertips, it's stimulating for the brain, so origami is being used as a part of rehabilitation programs at medical and assisted-living facilities. Also, the concepts and techniques origami uses for folding a single sheet of paper into a more compact finished product are being incorporated into various industrial technology.
Keiko
I've heard about "Miura folding," too. A map of the Miura fold, a special folding technique used in origami which allows the paper to fold and unfold all at once. It's very easy to use, and also sturdy. That reminds me, apparently the solar panels on some satellites are designed with Miura folding.
Glen
Further research into the use of origami techniques in space development is currently active and underway as well.
Keiko
The panels can be folded down into a compact format for transport, then opened up in space. That's a major benefit.
Glen
Not only that, the characteristic way origami creates 3D materials from a flat piece of paper is being used to the development of technology for building artificial blood vessels and robots. In addition, there's even research into the possibilities for folding up cells themselves and applying the technique to regenerative medicine.
Keiko
That goes way beyond anything I can imagine, but it's really exciting somehow to think that there are ongoing efforts to apply Japan's traditional culture to cutting-edge technology in so many different fields!
Glen
Definitely! It seems like the possibilities of origami are truly limitless. I'm looking forward to seeing what new technologies will be developed from origami in the future.
Keiko

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