Whenever I visit Kamakura, I visit a small Japanese paper shop where they sell traditional Japanese papers. I normally buy packs of small origami paper made with various Yuzen Chiyogami. Yuzen-gami 友禅紙 has a characteristic decorative pattern like the Yuzen Dye style used to create Kimono textiles.

ORIGAMI 折り紙: ‘ori’ meaning ‘folding’, and ‘kami’ meaning ‘paper’ is the art of paper folding. It is a traditional Japanese pastime in which square paper is folded to make shapes such as animals, plants and everyday objects. Origami is a developed version of Origata 折形, which was born in the Kamakura period (1185-1333).

Origata is a generic name for the method of wrapping gifts with Japanese paper and decorative folded paper for ritual use.  Origami was widely developed and became popular among the common people during the Edo period (1603-1868) for entertainment and play.

One of the popular origami patterns is the paper crane. Thousand origami cranes is a group of one thousand origami paper cranes held together by strings. It is a symbol of longevity and there is a popular belief that people’s wishes, such as recovery from illness or injury and longevity will come true by folding 1000 paper cranes. It is, therefore, a popular gift to give hospital patient in Japan.