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Paper Review #16: Sato Gami

Edited by Sara Adams

If you have never been to an Italian convention, you should put it on the top of your todo list. One of the main reasons is the huge collection of papers that is available in the convention shop. At the 2011 convention, I found this Japanese paper with a deep red wine colour, and a small sticker that said "Sato Gami". The seller told me Satoshi Kamiya himself had brought it along when he had been the guest of honour at a previous convention.

Contrary to what I at first believed, Sato Gami is not named after Satoshi-san. Sato means "village" or "countryside". The paper is made in Japan, but I did not succeed in pinning down the manufacturer. It is distributed by Takeo, who have a catalogue of 5000 papers. Toyo, the same distributors that supply us with Tant, and cut, pack and sell Sato Gami.

I do not have much information on how Sato Gami is produced. It is not acid free, and the result of a elemental chlorine free (ECF) process; this is a technique that uses chlorine dioxide for bleaching the wood pulp.

OrigamiHouse (Japan) sell this paper and they claim it is the best paper for Hideo Komatsu-san's origami models.

I always wanted to put my hands on a real Japanese origami paper, so I was excited to review this paper. Here is what we found.


  1. Only six shades are available, but they're great.

    Thickness: The measured weight is 80gsm. The distributors told us Sato Gami was available in 70gsm, 100gsm, 130gsm, and even 170gsm. Our measurements don't match with any of these values, though. The thickness measurement is 126 microns. So both weight and thickness are almost identical to the values of Tant.
  2. Sizes: There are very few options only: 15cm or 35cm squares, or full sheets. Shops that do carry this paper, usually only offer the 15cm squares.
  3. Colors: Although 50 shades are produced, only six are cut and packed for origami - wine red, olive green, desert yellow, Kraft brown, sky (light) blue and black.
  4. Paper Coloring or Colorability: I applied a thin layer of Ecoline water color, which made the paper curl a little. The paint did not seep through, you cannot see any trace of it on the other side. It was dry in less than two minutes. There was a tiny change in proportion, but it is almost not visible. So all in all Sato Gami is very suitable for coloring.
  5. Texture: Rough and stiff. The color is not spread evenly. You can notice the direction of the fibers with the bare eye, as it looks like a giant brush spread them on the surface. The paper is very opaque.

  6. Photogenic: The color palette has lovely, deep shades. The texture gives the paper a lot of character. There is no reflection at all, and for me, this paper is a beauty.
  7. Aging and Wear and Tear: The numbers in the test machine are 1100 and 1254 (with and against the grains), just like Elephant Hide. The paper is not acid free, which is less promising with regards to the colors fading over time, but truth to be told - we have no real experience here. 8 out of 10.
  8. Memory: Very good. The paper lies flat when you make a sharp crease. After unfolding, the crease line is clearly visible. 9 out of 10.
  9. Forgiveness: Very good. It’s very easy to reverse a fold; the paper is highly responsive and breaks immediately on the crease line. 9 out of 10.
  10. Tensile Strength: We refer here to the maximum stress the paper can undergo while being stretched or pulled. With the grain the paper can hold up to 10kg before tearing; against the grain it can hold up to 7.2kg. So Sato Gami is a bit stronger than Tant. 7 out of 10.
  11. Bending Resistance: This section rates the amount of force you need to apply to get a sharp crease and how strong the paper is while being curved. I've never seen such a different between folding with or against the grain as I have with Sato Gami. Its formidable stiffness promises a very good bending resistance. 8 out of 10.
  12. Where to buy: Only few shops sell this paper.
    • The OrigamiHouse shop offers 15cm (product code 903430), but they only deliver paper within Japan. So you need a local address and a friend to forward it to you.
    • Nicolas Terry has started importing it and offering it on Origami Shop. He currently only sells 15cm squares, but is in the process of also offering 35cm squares.
    • If you want full sheets, you need to convince someone to go the Takeo show room in Tokyo (3-18-3 Kanda Nishiki-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0054) to buy some and send them to you.

Test results

Traditional use

Traditional Crane, 15×15cm

Sato Gami is great for simple models.

The paper is cut accurately. It is very stiff, and folds well. Although it’s only 80gsm, it feels more like a 100gsm paper. I had to leave a big space while narrowing the neck and tale, otherwise it would have been too hard to reverse fold it.

Action model

This paper works even better with action models.

All models were easy and fun to fold. Sato Gami is great for action models.

Barking Dog by Gadi Vishne, 15×15cm

Pushing the back of the dog`s head resulted in a satisfying backward movement.

Traditional Flapping Bird, 15×15cm

The flapping bird worked solidly without any signs of fatigue.

Traditional Jumping Frog, 15×15cm

I folded the frog against the grain, and it jumped high with many summersaults.


Pineapple tessellation by Ilan Garibi, 15×15cm

Sato Gami is highly suitable for tessellation, but backlighting doesn't add any effect, as the paper is very opaque.

Yes, folding this tessellation from a 15cm square is quite unusual. Still, at 80gsm it looked very doable. It was easy to fold the grid, although there is a huge difference between folding with and against the grain. The crease lines are are clearly visible, so I had no problem with the precreasing. I could collapse the model quickly, too. The paper has a lovely feel of resistance and snaps into place. I am happy with the final result.

Mystery tessellation by Ilan Garibi, 30×30cm

Since the paper is opaque, I didn't finish the Mystery tessellation. It looks beautiful when folded from semi-transparent paper and backlit, but with opaque paper this effect cannot be achieved.


Pegasus by Satoshi Kamiya, 35×35cm

This paper holds its shape well, but it is hard to add fine details.

The first fold reveals so much! You can feel the stiffness of the paper. It feels nice, I must say. This stiffness and high memory help tremendously with the closed sink in step 37. But the price of having stiff paper is its thickness, At steps like reverse folding the 16 layers of the tail this really shows. Still, the paper is stiff enough to stay in place regardless of the many layers. The hind legs, though, almost made me go the Yoshizawa way, looking for a hammer to flat the haunches. Folding the belly (step 85) was practically impossible, as were the final details. On the bright side, you can shape the paper very nicely, almost as if it had a foil component.

Owl by Katsuta Kyohei, 35×35cm

Sato Gami is good for Box pleating, as long as layers don't add up too much.

Folding the ten-division grid ten went smoothly. The paper snaps into place and is very suitable for box pleating models. I finished the base at warp speed 8. As the layers started to add up I had to slow down. It’s hard to crease many layers together, the inner layers are hardly affected. But even with the weak creases this forms, it was easy to create a stronger crease in the right place. The wing tips were fun to fold and easy to shape accurately. The talons, on the other side, were hellish. They have too many layers to allow reverse folding.

Phoenix by Satoshi Kamiya, 35×35cm

The unfinished phoenix.

Knowing that Kamiya-san had brought the paper from Japan to Italy, I knew I had to fold this model. Alas! I couldn’t finish it. The paper was much too thick, and couldn’t be handled anymore. I had to give up.

Modular/Unit Origami

PowerPuff modular by Ilan Garibi. 30 units, 8.75×8.75cm

Modulars work well with this paper.

I divide a 35 cm sheets into 16 units, as this paper isn't available in 10cm squares. It’s easy to fold each unit, but the ratio of thickness to size is too high. This shows in inaccuracies wherever many layers meet. Puffing and shaping the model shows one of the paper's strengths again. It holds the curved lines firmly. The final model is very stable and firm.

3D models

Rabbit by Hideo Komatsu, 15×15cm

It’s easy to make 3D shapes.

A 15cm square is the recommended size for this lovely model. I decided to fold it from brown Sato Gami. Indeed, I can understand why Origami House say this paper is excellent for Komatsu-san's models. The paper is stiff enough to hold shapes, yet thin enough to allow small and delicate steps, such as squash folding the ears. This brilliant design resembles a complex figure without gathering many layers. This is another reason why Sato Gami works really well for it.

Rat by Eric Joisel, 15×15cm

The paper's texture gives your animals a unique look and feel.

It was fun folding the rat from this paper. All the creases are sharp and easy to reverse. The fibers' direction highly affects folds, especially when folding against the grain. This can already be problematic for diagonal folds. I also noticed that too many creases soften the paper too much. Finishing the model, it was quite easy to mould the model as I wished.

Triceratops by Jun Maekawa, 15×15cm

This is not your draft paper.

This paper is highly suitable for models of this level: intermediate to complex. All went well, although I did find that squash folding may cause too many wrinkles. The paper is strong, and you can feel its stiffness when reversing crease lines.

Wet Folding

Fox Terrier by Francisco Javier Caboblanco, 15×15cm

At this thickness we usually don’t check the paper's suitability for wet folding,, but when shaping the Fox Terrier, I found that for shaping purposes wet folding works well. The paper absorbs just enough water, and doesn’t get too soft. It dries fast, in just a few minutes, and the shape is set to my satisfaction.

Final verdict

This paper is wonderful for simple models, great for intermediate models, but too thick and stiff for highly complex models. To get good results, you have to know your way, since this paper is not forgivable – make too many crease lines, and your paper will become too soft. 3D models can be folded with ease, especially when forming contour shapes. For modulars, Sato Gami is great; it's stiff and stable. It has a lot of friction, so it's easy to connect the modules. Tessellations are also a good candidates, as Sato Gami is very resilient, without the thickness that usually goes with this property.

As the paper is relatively thick, the little details of complex models, as well as multi-layered models are the downside of Sato Gami; see the unfinished Phoenix.

Searching on Flickr shows how far we went to get this paper: no one has posted an image with this paper mentioned in the description.

This paper has some character indeed. It has a unique texture, is stronger than its thickness may promise, and it is fun to fold! It is surly worth looking for!

Bottom line: good, solid paper!

Paper Thickness (gsm) Size Color palette Texture Aging Memory Forgiveness Tensile Strength Bending Resistance
Sato Gami 80 15cm, 35cm, full sheets 6 Rough and Fibery Unknown 9 9 7 8
Glassine 40 10cm, 15cm, 20cm, A4, 70×100cm 11 Smooth Unknown 9.5 6 8 4
Unryu 27 40cm, 60cm 10 Hand-made Many years 7.5 8 10 5
Skytone 90, 176 A4, 63.5cm×96.5cm 12 Smooth, marble-like Unknown 8 9 7 8.5
Kami 60 7.5cm, 15cm, 30cm 200+ Smooth, a bit shiny Many years 8 8 7 8
Ingres 90 B1, B2, A4 5 (previously 21) Rough Years 8 8 7.5 8.5
Nicolas Terry Tissue Foil 50 15cm, 20cm, 30cm, 40cm, 60cm 8 hues Glittery; handmade look Unknown 8 8 9 8
Onion Skin 35 A4; Letter; 84.5×64.4cm White Cockled Many years 8 5 8.5 5
Kraft 35 15cm; 30cm; 48cm; 35cm; 40×60cm Light brown Smooth and a little shiny on one side Unknown 9 5 8 4
Crumpled 48-51 64cm by 64cm 28 hues, plus 12 pearled Bumps Less than a year 8 6 4 4
Stardream 110-340 (120 tested) 72cm by 102cm 33 hues Smooth and sparkly Years 9 9 7 9.5
Origamido 10-100 40cm by 50cm and more Very broad Varies Many years 5 to 9 6 to 8 10 2
Printer Paper 50-120 (80 tested) A0-A7, B and C equivalents, ANSI. Many others Mainly white, but many colors smooth and dull Few years 7 9 4 4
Japanese Foil 50 various from 3cm up to 50cm squares 12 colors smooth and shiny Many years 10 4 5 6
Tant 78 7.5cm; 15cm; 30.5cm; 35cm; 110×80cm 100 colors Mildly rough Many years 9 8 6 5
Elephant Hide 110 A4; 70cm×100cm 7 colors smooth Many years 10 7 10 10
Paper Classic Action Tessellation Complex Modular 3D Wet Folding Final score
Sato Gami 8 9 9 6 9 8 n/a 8.5
Glassine 8 8.5 9 7 9.5 7 n/a 8
Unryu n/a n/a n/a 9 n/a 9 n/a 9
Skytone 8 8.5 9 9 9 9 8.5 9
Kami 8.5 8 8 7 9 7.5 7.5 8
Ingres 7 8.5 8 7 7 8 8 7.5
Nicolas Terry Tissue Foil 9 8.5 8.5 9.5 8 9 9.5 9+
Onion Skin 8 8 7.5 8.5 6 8 n/a 8
Kraft 8 7 8 9 6 8 n/a 7.5
Crumpled 8 7.5 8.5 8.5 7 8 n/a 8
Stardream 8.5 8.5 9 7.5 7.5 9 9 9
Origamido 8 7.5 7.5 9.5 n/a 9 n/a 9
Printer Paper 7.5 7.5 6 5 6 6.5 n/a 6
Japanese Foil 9 9 6 8 8.5 8 n/a 7
Tant 9 8.5 9 8 9 8 7.5 8
Elephant Hide 8.5 9 10 8 8.5 9.5 9.5 9.5