The word “Origami” is derived from the Japanese words for folding (ori) and paper (kami). The historical origin of origami is unknown, but most historians agree it began in China where paper was invented in the first century. In the seventh century, the Japanese imported paper from China and paper folding spread out throughout Japan.
Until the twelfth century, paper was considered a precious rarity, used only for the most important writings and ceremonial purposes such as noshi. The first example of representational origami is the female and male paper butterflies (mecho & ocho, respectively) that adorn ceremonial sake bottles for traditional Japanese weddings. By the 17th century, origami and the traditional paper crane that many associate with it had become popular throughout Japan. Today, thousands of paper cranes decorate the shrines and temples of Hiroshima as a prayer for peace on Earth. Learn how to fold a paper crane with our easy-to-follow tutorial videos.
Once a simple art of paper folding, the futuristic applications of origami can now be found everywhere. The designs of solar panels for satellites that fold and unfold are based on origami principles. Origami patterns have influenced the designs of improved air-bags, and origami techniques have been used to develop life-saving heart valves. Check out the videos below for other fascinating applications of origami in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math)!
Geometric origami not only helps scientists solve mathematical problems, it is also an effective teaching tool. Jean Piaget (1896-1980), a renowned child development psychologist, stated "motor activity in the form of skilled movements is vital to the development of intuitive thought and the mental representation of space." In the classroom, origami manipulation helps students visualize geometry, as well as boosts confidence and motor skills.
The art of origami has been exhibited throughout the world at national museums such as the Origami Museum at Narita Tokyo Airport and the American Museum of Natural History. If you are interested in sharing the art of origami at your event or in your classroom, check out Kuniko's show.