Edited by Jane Rosemarin
  • Title: Cute Origami (かわいいおりがみ)
  • Author: Shoko Aoyagi (青柳祥子)
  • Publisher: Oizumi Shoten Co. Ltd. (大泉書店) (October 23, 2023)
  • ISBN-13: 978-4-278-08340-8
  • Binding: Paperback, perfect bound, includes dust jacket
  • Pages: 128
  • Printing: Full color

This is the first time I’ve reviewed a Japanese book. I’ve included snippets of Japanese text in brackets, but I’m at the mercy of Google Translate, as I can’t read Japanese, so please forgive me for any errors.

This book measures slightly larger than B5, at approximately 18.5 cm × 25.5 cm (7¼ x 10 inches) and is aimed at children, but it is still presented very nicely. As with many Japanese paperback books, there is a dust jacket to protect the cover and spine. The spine is perfect bound, so it does take a little persuasion to make the book stay open at a given page. The diagrams are slightly unusual in that they are photos, but the background has been cropped, and arrows and fold lines have been clearly marked. This is a nice feature, as the light and shadows can be seen on the paper, making for the best of both photos and diagrams.

The diagrams are photos with fold lines and arrows clearly marked.

Recommended paper sizes are given for each model, and steps are clearly numbered. All steps have text instructions, but unless a step is particularly tricky, it seems unnecessary to translate, as the diagrams give all the information you need. On the inside of the dust jacket, there is a 15-cm ruler, with marks at 3, 3.75, 5, 6, 7, 7.5, 8 and 11.25 cm; if using 15-cm (rather than 6-inch) paper, this can be used for folding thirds, quarters and fifths.

The book starts with a pictorial table of contents, listing 65 different models, followed by 12 pages of colorful scenes made using models from the book. After this, there are a few pages of symbols, Fröbel folding, a section by David Mitchell (folding with leftover rectangles) and how to cut a silver rectangle (1:\(\sqrt{2}\)). The book is then split into 10 “Categories of Play,” or chapters: Home (おうちごっこ), Weather (おてんきごっこ), Flower Shop (おはなやさんごっこ), Bag Shop (バッグやさんごっこ), Dress Up (おしゃれごっこ), Pet Shop (ペットやさんごっこ), Restaurant (ようしょくやさんごっこ), Museum/Science (はくぶつかんごっこ), Café (カフェごっこ) and Fruit Shop (フルーツやさんごっこ). The book concludes with a short biography and the usual copyright notices.

Of the 65 models, Shoko has included nine traditional, 50 of her own and six by other creators: Akiko Yamanashi, Paul Imamura, Paula Versnick, Martin Wall and Matsuno Yukihiko.

I noticed that glue was required for one of the models that I folded (Teddy Bear), and Shoko does make heavy use of embellishments and drawn features, such as eyes, nose, mouth, etc. So, perhaps, not for the purist but ideal for children and those looking to fold something “cute.”

I decided to fold a handful of models, a Box (Table), Book, Teddy Bear, Dog, Butterfly and Bird. It’s no surprise that I like the more geometric folds rather than figurative, but I particularly like the Dog as it’s simple yet elegant.

The Box, Book, Teddy Bear, Dog, Butterfly and Bird. Folded by Edward Holmes.

To summarize, Cute Origami is a beautifully presented book that contains a large selection of playful models, each accompanied with clear photographs/diagrams and written instructions. All of the models are relatively easy to fold, ranging between simple and low intermediate level.

This book is available through amazon.co.jp for ¥1320, approximately $9, but expect to pay around $25 including postage and packaging.

Editor’s notes: The book is also available from yesasia.com for $15.49 (Shipping is $7.99, or free with a $59 purchase).

In the first version of this article, the name Shoko Aoyagi was misspelled as Shoku Aoyagi in the headline.


April 21, 2024 - 12:45pm Annick O'Shaughnessy

Hi, visiting in California my son