“Origami”, the Ancient Art of Japanese Folding Paper

The Japanese word “Origami” itself is a compound of two smaller Japanese words: “ori” (root verb “oru”), meaning to fold, and “kami”, meaning paper. Until recently, not all forms of paper folding were grouped under the word origami. Before that, paperfolding for play was known by a variety of names, including “orikata”, “orisue”, “orimono”, “tatamigami” and others. Exactly why “origami” became the common name is not known; it has been suggested that the word was adopted in the kindergartens because the written characters were easier for young children to write. Another theory is that the word “origami” was a direct translation of the German word “Papierfalten”, brought into Japan with the Kindergarten Movement around 1880.

Japanese origami began sometime after Buddhist monks carried paper to Japan during the 6th century. The first Japanese origami is dated from this period and was used for religious ceremonial purposes only, due to the high price of paper.

A reference in a poem by Ihara Saikaku from 1680, which describes the origami butterflies used during Shinto weddings to represent the bride and groom.Samurai warriors are known to have exchanged gifts adorned with noshi, a sort of good luck token made of folded strips of paper, which indicates that origami had become a significant aspect of Japanese ceremony by the Heian period (794–1185).

In 1797 the first known origami book was published in Japan: Senbazuru orikata. There are several origami stories in Japanese culture, such as a story of Abe no Seimei making a paper bird and turning it into a real one.

The earliest evidence of paperfolding in Europe is a picture of a small paper boat in Tractatus de sphaera mundi from 1490. There is also evidence of a cut and folded paper box from 1440. It is possible that paperfolding in the west originated with the Moors much earlier; however, it is not known if it was independently discovered or knowledge of origami came along the silk route.

The modern growth of interest in origami dates to the design in 1954 by Akira Yoshizawa of a notation to indicate how to fold origami models. The Yoshizawa-Randlett system is now used internationally. Today the popularity of origami has given rise to origami societies such as the British Origami Society and OrigamiUSA. The first known origami social group was founded in Zaragoza, Spain, during the 1940s.

The Chinese word for paperfolding is “Zhe Zhi” (摺紙), and some Chinese contend that origami is a historical derivative of Chinese paperfolding.

2. Interesting Origami Facts

Origami is a kind of art that you can trace in 500 AD. This popular art is included as part of Japanese and Chinese culture. This paper folding hypnotizes all people in the world. There are hundreds of shapes that you can create from the folding paper. Check the following post for detail info about origami:

Origami Facts 1: the origin

Let’s find out the origin of Origami. It came from Japan, not China. But Chinese people influenced al lot of the concept of paper folding. You have to know that paper was invented from China for the first time.

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Origami Facts 2: Who brought origami to Japan?

The Buddhist monks introduced the origami art to Japan. The credit for the birthplace of origami was taken by Japanese people. But you can find many parts of oriental countries such as China like to do origami. This art is very popular among kids and adults. Check Japanese culture facts here.

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Origami Facts 3: the largest origami

Many people think that origami must involve with small paper. It is not true. In 1999, the largest crane from paper was created. It was made inside a football stadium with the weight of 1,750 pounds and height of 215 feet.

Origami Facts 4: Akira Naito

Akira Naito was a Japanese person who created the smallest crane paper. He folded a 0.1-by-0.1-mm square of paper to make this crane paper. It is not easy to do it because Akira had to use a pair of tweezers and a microscope.

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Origami Facts 5: 50th anniversary of Hiroshima

There were 25,000 paper cranes created during the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing in Japan. It broke the record as the largest number of origami cranes ever made. People placed the origami cranes on the memorial place of the city.

Origami Facts 6: the oldest origami illustration design

The oldest origami illustration design was traced back in 1490. Johannes di Sacrobesco created the illustration in Venice. He illustrated paper boats floating on water.

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Origami Facts 7: Christian Dior

Christian Dior was inspired by origami when he created his 2007 Haute Couture collection. Actually this art has inspired a lot of sectors such as fashion, architecture and food. If you visit Japan, you can find a lot of buildings created based on origami style.

Origami Facts 8: popularity

The art of origami also influenced the people in Spain. The moors brought the art in 1100 AD to Spain. But the Spanish people did not use it as an art. They used the origami to understand the geometrical and mathematical concepts.

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Origami Facts 9: paper

The popular belief states that origami is created from paper. Actually you can have it made from foil, food, or even coarse cloth.

Origami Facts 10: books and museums

If you want to know the collection of origami masterpieces, you can check them on the museums and books in America and Japan.

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“Kimono” – Traditional Clothing Japan

Traditional clothing of Japan is Kimono (着物, 着 means wear and 物 means thing), and up until the mid 19th century it was the form of dress worn by everyone in Japan. That began to change slowly with the import of suits dresses and other western fashions during the Meiji Era.

Thanks to the popularity of ukiyo-e woodblock prints in the West at the beginning of the last century, the kimono-clad maiden became one of the quintessential images of Japan. Dressing up in the kimono and other accoutrements of the geisha or maiko is still one of the more popular activities for visiting tourists.

1.Women’s Kimono

Many modern Japanese women lack the skill to put on a kimono unaided: the typical woman’s kimono outfit consists of twelve or more separate pieces that are worn, matched, and secured in prescribed ways, and the assistance of licensed professional kimono dressers may be required. Called upon mostly for special occasions, kimono dressers both work out of hair salons and make house calls.

Choosing an appropriate type of kimono requires knowledge of the garment’s symbolism and subtle social messages, reflecting the woman’s age, marital status, and the level of formality of the occasion.

Furisode

A young woman wearing a furisode kimono

(振袖): furisode literally translates as swinging sleeves—the sleeves of furisode average between 39 and 42 inches (110 cm) in length.Furisode are the most formal kimono for unmarried women, with colorful patterns that cover the entire garment. They are usually worn at coming-of-age ceremonies (seijin shiki) and by unmarried female relatives of the bride at weddings and wedding receptions.

Hōmongi

homongi

(訪問着): literally translates as visiting wear. Characterized by patterns that flow over the shoulders, seams and sleeves, hōmongi rank slightly higher than their close relative, the tsukesage. Hōmongi may be worn by both married and unmarried women; often friends of the bride will wear hōmongi at weddings (except relatives) and receptions. They may also be worn to formal parties.
Pongee Hōmongi were made to promote kimono after WWII. Since Pongee Hōmongi are made from Pongee, they are considered casual wear.

Iromuji

iromuji

(色無地): colored kimono that may be worn by married and unmarried women. They are mainly worn to tea ceremonies. The dyed silk may be figured (rinzu, similar to jacquard), but has no differently colored patterns. It comes from the word “muji” which means plain or solid and “iro” which means color.

Komon

komon.jpg

(小紋): “fine pattern”. Kimono with a small, repeated pattern throughout the garment. This style is more casual and may be worn around town, or dressed up with a formal obi for a restaurant. Both married and unmarried women may wear komon.
Edo komon
(江戸小紋): is a type of komon characterized by tiny dots arranged in dense patterns that form larger designs. The Edo komon dyeing technique originated with the samurai class during the Edo period. A kimono with this type of pattern is of the same formality as an iromuji, and when decorated with kamon, may be worn as visiting wear (equivalent to a tsukesage or hōmongi).

Mofuku

mofuku.jpg

Main article: Mourning § Japan
Mofuku is formal mourning dress for men or women. Both men and women wear kimono of plain black silk with five kamon over white undergarments and white tabi. For women, the obi and all accessories are also black. Men wear a subdued obi and black and white or black and gray striped hakama with black or white zori.
The completely black mourning ensemble is usually reserved for family and others who are close to the deceased.

Tomesode

Irotomesode
irotomesode 

(色留袖): single-color kimono, patterned only below the waistline. Irotomesode with five family crests are the same as formal as kurotomesode, and are worn by married and unmarried women, usually close relatives of the bride and groom at weddings and a medal ceremony at the royal court. An irotomesode may have three or onekamon. Those use as a semi-formal kimono at a party and conferment.
Kurotomesode
kurotomesode 

(黒留袖): a black kimono patterned only below the waistline, kurotomesode are the most formal kimono for married women. They are often worn by the mothers of the bride and groom at weddings. Kurotomesode usually have five kamon printed on the sleeves, chest and back of the kimono.

Tsukesage

tsukesage.jpg

(付け下げ): has more modest patterns that cover a smaller area—mainly below the waist—than the more formal hōmongi. They may also be worn by married women.The differences from homongi is the size of the pattern, seam connection, and not same clothes at inside and outside at “hakke.” As demitoilet, not used in important occasion, but light patterned homongi is more highly rated than classic patterned tsukesage. General tsukesage is often used for parties, not ceremonies.

Uchikake

A traditional red Uchikakekimono with cranes

Uchikake (打掛) is a highly formal kimono worn only by a bride or at a stage performance. The Uchikake is often heavily brocaded and is supposed to be worn outside the actual kimono and obi, as a sort of coat. One therefore never ties the obi around the uchikake. It is supposed to trail along the floor, this is also why it is heavily padded along the hem. The uchikake of the bridal costume is either white or very colorful often with red as the base colour.

Susohiki / Hikizuri

maiko (apprentice geisha), wearing specially tailored “maiko-style” furisode kimonos with tucks in sleeves and at shoulders

The susohiki is usually worn by geisha or by stage performers of the traditional Japanese dance. It is quite long, compared to regular kimono, because the skirt is supposed to trail along the floor. Susohiki literally means “trail the skirt”. Where a normal kimono for women is normally 1.5–1.6 m (4.9–5.2 ft) long, a susohiki can be up to 2 m (6.6 ft) long. This is also why geisha and maiko lift their kimono skirt when walking outside, also to show their beautiful underkimono or “nagajuban” (see below).[19]

Jūnihitoe

A young woman modeling a jūnihitoe

Jūnihitoe (十二単) is an extremely elegant and highly complex kimono that was only worn by Japanese court-ladies. The jūnihitoe consist of various layers which are silk garments, with the innermost garment being made of white silk. The total weight of the jūnihitoe could add up to 20 kilograms. An important accessory was an elaborate fan, which could be tied together by a rope when folded. Today, the jūnihitoe can only be seen in museums, movies, costume demonstrations, tourist attractions or at certain festivals. These robes are one of the most expensive items of Japanese clothing. Only the Imperial Household still officially uses them at some important functions.

2. Men’s Kimono

In contrast to women’s kimono, men’s kimono outfits are far simpler, typically consisting of five pieces, not including footwear.

Men’s kimono sleeves are attached to the body of the kimono with no more than a few inches unattached at the bottom, unlike the women’s style of very deep sleeves mostly unattached from the body of the kimono. Men’s sleeves are less deep than women’s kimono sleeves to accommodate the obi around the waist beneath them, whereas on a woman’s kimono, the long, unattached bottom of the sleeve can hang over the obi without getting in the way.

Jinbaori – Kimono tabards for armoured Samurai

In the modern era, the principal distinctions between men’s kimono are in the fabric. The typical men’s kimono is a subdued, dark color; black, dark blues, greens, and browns are common. Fabrics are usually matte. Some have a subtle pattern, and textured fabrics are common in more casual kimono. More casual kimono may be made in slightly brighter colors, such as lighter purples, greens and blues. Sumo wrestlers have occasionally been known to wear quite bright colors such as fuchsia.

The most formal style of kimono is plain black silk with five kamon on the chest, shoulders and back. Slightly less formal is the three-kamonkimono.

Black Montsuki with hakama and haori

montsuki

In the backside, there is family symbol of the owner.Montsuki with hakama and haori is the traditional wedding clothing for the men. It is just weared when formal event coming of age ceremonies ( 成人式 seijin shiki )

Casual Clothing Kinagashi

Kinagashi - traditional japanese clothing - 3

Mens wear it for clothing of days or go out to non formal event. This kimono, there is not family symbol.

Parts of a Kimono

kimono parts
yuki – sleeve length ushiromigoro – rear main section uraeri – inner collar doura – upper lining
sodetsuke – armhole seam fuki – hem guard sode – sleeve okumi – front panel below the collar
miyatsukuchi – opening below armhole sodeguchi – sleeve opening tamoto – sleeve pouch maemigoro – front main section
furi – sleeve below armhole tomoeri – overcollar eri – collar susomawashi – lower lining

The illustration to the left shows how kimono design has changed over the centuries. From around the Nara Period (710-94), a garment called a kosode (small sleeves) was worn, first as underclothes and later as an outer garment, by both women and men. The garment became known as a kimono from the 18th century. Although much less common today than they used to be, even the short-term visitor is likely to see at least one of these elegant garments during their stay.

Women wear kimono when they attend traditional arts, such as a tea ceremony orikebana class. Girls and young single women wear furisode, a colorful style of kimono with long sleeves and tied with a brightly-colored obi (sash). Kimono made from fabric with simple geometric patterns, called Edo komon, are more plain and casual.

At weddings, the bride and groom will often go through several costume changes. One of them will see the bride in a shiromuku, a heavy, embroidered white kimono and wearing an elaborate hairpiece. The groom wears a black kimono made fromhabutae silk and carrying the family crest, hakama (a pleated skirt) and a half-length black coat called a haori. Western suits are more common for male guests.

For funerals, both men and women wear plain black kimono. With black suits being suitable for both, it’s often difficult to tell whether a guy is going to a wedding or a funeral except that they wear a white tie for weddings and a black tie for funerals. In January every year, 20-year olds celebrate their coming of age. Most women wear an elaborately-colored komono, often with a tacky fur boa. Other kimono-wearing occasions include New Year, graduation ceremonies and Shichi-go-san for children.

Traditionally, the art of putting on a kimono was passed from mother to daughter but these days special schools can do brisk business imparting the necessary techniques. The first thing put on are the tabi (white cotton socks); next the undergarments, a top and a wraparound skirt; then the nagajuban, an under-kimono which is tied with adatemaki belt; finally the kimono, with the left side over the right (right over left is only used when dressing a corpse for burial) and tied with the obi. About an inch of thehaneri (collar) of the nagajuban shows inside the collar of the kimono. The loose design of the collar is to give a glimpse of the neck, considered the most sensual part of the kimono-wearing lady. When outside, zori sandals are usually worn.

Lined (awase) kimono, traditionally made of silk but sometimes wool or synthetic fabrics, are worn during the cooler months. Light, cotton yukata are worn by men and women during the summer months and after bathing at onsen (hot spring resorts) and ryokan (traditional inns). Often they are worn with geta, informal wooden footwear. Originally worn to the bath house by the upper class and made of plain white cotton, yukata became popular among the common people and were often stencil-dyed. Today, brightly-colored yukata are common at summer festivals and fireworks displays, particularly for young women and children.

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Hanabi Festival – Japan event

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hanabi in tokyo

Originally used to ward off evil spirits, fireworks (花火, Hanabi) have a long history in Japan and are an integral part of Japanese summers. Hundreds of firework shows are held every year across the country, mainly during the summer holidays in July and August, with some of them drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators. On the other hand, fireworks are not typically used to celebrate New Year.

Japanese firework shells range in size from smaller ones to the world record holding Yonshakudama shells which are 1.2 meter in diameter and weigh several hundred kilograms. The most common are starmines, which are spherical shells that have a variety of burst patterns. Other unique fireworks include Niagara sparklers that are set under bridges and resemble the famous waterfalls, and formed shells that burst into familiar shapes such as hearts, smiley faces and cartoon characters.

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hanabi in tokyo

A secondary attraction of Japanese fireworks is the relaxed festival atmosphere that comes with them, people dressed in yukata and streets lined by food and game stalls. The firework shows themselves typically start some time after sunset and last one to two hours. Many of the longer shows are broken up into multiple shorter segments, interrupted by the announcement of titles and sponsors. They often end with a grand finale consisting of hundreds of shells launched simultaneously.

Popular firework shows tend to be very crowded which leads to a few concerns for visitors:

The competition for good viewing spots can be quite strong, and people often show up and reserve the best spots hours in advance, especially in cities where tall buildings limit the number of spots with unobstructed views of the fireworks. Many shows offer paid seating, but tickets are usually not available on the day and are often difficult to get from outside of Japan or without Japanese language skills.

Nagaoka Fireworks

Accommodation and transportation can also pose critical concerns in case of some of the most popular displays. While large cities like Tokyo and Osaka tend to have enough hotel rooms to accommodate festival crowds, smaller cities usually get booked out months ahead of popular fireworks together with nearby cities. The lack of hotel rooms can pose a particularly serious challenge if there are no more late-night train or bus connections back into a larger city after the end of the show.

Furthermore, crowded buses and trains can pose an inconvenience especially after the end of the show. Because of traffic congestions, it is often faster and more comfortable to walk from the venue back to the nearest station instead of using shuttle buses. Note also that additional trains are often employed before and after major firework shows, but that they tend to be very crowded.

Travel agents are both a reason of and a potential solution to some of the above mentioned issues. They offer various tour packages for popular firework events that include transportation, accommodation and reserved seating, thereby blocking a large amount of local hotel rooms from individual travelers. While these packages can be a one-in-all solution to the transportation, accommodation and seating issues, they also tend to be difficult to purchase from outside of Japan and without Japanese language skills.

Below is a list of some of the most famous firework shows in Japan:

Sumida River Fireworks
Last Saturday of July from 19:05 to 20:30 (July 30, 2016)
Along the Sumida River around Asakusa Station
Tokyo‘s Sumida River Fireworks, which are recognized as one of the oldest and most famous firework displays in Japan, are launched from barges anchored along the Sumida River between Ryogoku andAsakusa. The colorful explosions are best seen from the parks along the river… that is, if you can get a seat. Otherwise the fireworks are difficult to see except in flashes and glimpses between the tall buildings of the district or when walking across bridges over the river (it is not allowed to stop and view the show from bridges, though).
Almost more appealing, however, is the great summer festival atmosphere that accompanies the fireworks. Tens of thousands of people, many dressed in yukata, stroll the streets of Asakusa, especially around Sensoji Temple, whose streets are lined with food vendors and game stalls. In addition, lots of restaurants around this old entertainment district provide outdoor seating where you can enjoy some good food and drink while catching what you can see of the fireworks.
Omagari National Fireworks Competition
Fourth Saturday in August from 17:30 (August 27, 2016)
Along the Marukogawa River, a 15 minute walk from Omagari Station, Akita Prefecture
Often considered the top firework show in Japan, the Omagari National Fireworks Competition is a special event to which only the best pyrotechnic teams are invited. Thousands of shells are launched throughout the event as teams compete in both day and night categories. Paid seating is available, as is shinkansen access from both Tokyo and Akita; however there are no connections back to Tokyo after the end of the show and hotels are very difficult to book in Omagari and its surrounding cities. Tour packages may make seeing the show easier.
Tsuchiura National Fireworks Competition
First Saturday in October from 18:00 to 20:30 (October 1, 2016)
Along the Sakuragawa River, a 30 minute walk from Tsuchiura Station, Ibaraki Prefecture
Held in October, the Tsuchiura National Fireworks Competition is one of the top three firework shows in Japan. As it is also one of the last major shows of the year, the pyrotechnic companies use the competition as a venue to show off their latest and best designs to the brokers in attendance who are shopping around for next summer’s shows.
The fireworks can be seen from all around the city, but are best from the free or paid viewing spots along the river. The city advises arriving by mid afternoon to secure a seat, and be sure to bring a tarp to sit on as some of the viewing spots are in freshly cut fields. Paid shuttle buses (240 yen) connect the official spots to Tsuchiura Station, from where the JR Joban Line provides connections back to Tokyo until after the end of the show.
Nagaoka Fireworks
August 2 and August 3 from 19:25 to 21:10
Along the Shinano River, a 20 minute walk from Nagaoka Station, Niigata Prefecture
The Nagaoka Fireworks are held over two nights in August along the banks of the Shinano River. Both nights feature almost two straight hours of fireworks including some of the largest shells in Japan such as 90 cm diameter Sanjakudama shells, and the festival’s signature Phoenix Shell, which has come to be a symbol of recovery after the 2004 Niigata Earthquake. The show’s finale covers nearly two kilometers of the riverbank and is the widest span of fireworks in the world.
There is lots of free seating along the riverbank facing the show, but be sure to arrive early enough to secure seats. Paid seating is also available, and tickets should be purchased in advance. The venue is a 20 minute walk from Nagaoka Station from where there are shinkansen connections to Tokyo and Niigata City, but note that it is difficult to catch the last train back to Tokyo after the end of the show. Consider staying in Nagaoka or Niigata, in which case a travel package including train, hotel and seating may be worth investigating.
The Nagaoka Fireworks are the most spectacular of three outstanding firework shows in Niigata Prefecture. The other two are held in coastal Kashiwazaki and in mountainous Katakai.
Osaka Tenjin Fireworks
July 25 from 19:00 to 21:00
Along the Ogawa River around Osakajo Kitazume, Osaka Tenmangu, Tenmabashi and Sakuranomiya Stations
Osaka‘s Tenjin Festival is ranked among Japan’s Three Great Festivals, together with Kyoto‘s Gion andTokyo‘s Kanda Festivals. 4000 fireworks are launched on the festival’s second night (July 25) while a procession of flaming ships bearing portable shrines and people dressed in period costume travels along the Ogawa River. The fireworks, boat procession and illuminated bridges are best seen from the Minami Tenma and Kema Sakuranomiya Parks along the river.
Miyajima Fireworks
One evening in mid August from 19:40 to 20:40 (August 11, 2016)
Miyajima Island around Itsukushima Shrine
Around 5000 fireworks are launched from boats just off the north shore of Miyajima Island every year in mid August. The fireworks are best viewed from around Itsukushima Shrine, and when combined with the shrine’s giant torii gate make up one of Japan’s most iconic firework scenes that regularly ranks as one of the top spots for photographers in Japan. The fireworks can also be seen from the town and shrine area of the island, as well as from boat tours that cruise the bay.
Chichibu Night Festival Fireworks
December 3 from 19:30 to 22:00
Around Seibu Chichibu and Chichibu Stations
The firework display of the Chichibu Night Festival is one of the rare occasions to see Japanese fireworks in winter. Fireworks are launched both nights of the festival, although the second night’s show is bigger and longer. Paid seating is available, and while the shows can be seen from around the town, the view is often blocked by buildings. Seibu Railways provides transportation to and fromTokyo, and has late enough connections that staying over is not necessary.
Lake Toyako Fireworks
Every day from late April to October from 20:45 to 21:05 (April 28 to October 31, 2016)
Toyako Onsen, Hokkaido
Although nowhere as spectacular as the other shows on this list, the 20 minute long firework performances on Hokkaido‘s Lake Toyako are worth mentioning because they are held every single night from late April to October (except in bad weather). The fireworks are launched from a ship that slowly makes its way eastward in front of the large resort hotels along the shore. The show can be viewed from the hotel rooms facing the lake or from the lakeside park.

source : japan-guide.com, festival, fireworks