On this day, 101 years ago, a master of the Japanese art of paper folding was born. Let us take time to learn about the artist who pioneered countless origami techniques for this installment of Today in History.
You must have seen the beautiful art that adorns the Google homepage today, and wondered what it’s about. Today’s colorful doodle is dedicated to Japanese artist Akira Yoshizawa, who would have turned 101 years old on this day.
Origami, the ancient art of paper folding that originated in 17th century AD Japan, is considered today as a notable modern art form, celebrated both for the various folding techniques and the fascinating paper sculptures created from a sheet of flat paper. Origami models range from the simplest to the most intricate, one of the best known being the Japanese paper crane.
Yoshizawa, who enjoyed making paper cranes as a child, rekindled his interest in paper folding during his early 20s, when he became a technical draftsman. He turned to origami to help him teach employees about geometry. He left factory work to work full-time on origami in 1937. However, he lived in total poverty in the next 20 years, earning a meager income from selling tsukudani (Japanese preserved condiment typically made from seaweed).
Despite this, origami still played a major role in his life, finally earning him a spot in Isao Honda’s Origami Shuko book published in 1944. His break came when he was featured in a 1951 issue of Asahi Graph Magazine.
Since then, he has folded thousands of origami models, published 18 books, pioneered many origami techniques (wet folding among his notable contributions), showcased his works in several exhibitions. It is said that he never sold his folded masterpieces and instead gave them away as gifts, and allowed organizations and groups of origami enthusiasts borrow them for exhibiting.
He is known to the art world today as an origami grandmaster, credited for elevating the status of origami from paper craft to living art. Throughout his artistic endeavors in origami, Yoshizawa was also an international cultural ambassador for Japan. In 1983, Japanese emperor Hirohito awarded him with the Order of the Rising Sun, one of the highest honors that the Japanese can receive. He taught origami alongside his second wife, Kiyo Yoshizawa, until he passed away on his 94th birthday.
Let us close this tribute by greeting origami master Akira Yoshizawa a happy birthday, and marvel at his amazing folded paper masterpieces!
You can also check out these other interesting articles on origami!