Vote English Title for this article

  • Hidden messages of paper folding

  • Implication for origami practice

As a kid, we learn to play with paper by folding it. The moment we see plain paper transformed to something amazing impress our experience. When we grow up, paper folding is known as an activity for kids, or just a hobby to enjoy after work.

Paper folding in Japanese is called Origami. This word becomes deep meaning nowadays. Origami is involved in mathematical science, engineering, and promote it as a tool for STEM education. When we see origami as a high-class technology, it becomes serious with kids and they might have a bias believe that it is difficult. Japanese culture for origami may be a tool to deliver indirectly messages in an art form. So each origami creation contains a secret meaning or feeling or character of who fold it. Some situation you have to stay and cannot escape such as legs injury hospitalized or waiting for the end of difficult education. You might do origami to create something interesting and the hard time pass unconsciously.

An origami skill is questioned to be valuable. With only origami skill, it is hard to do for living. But I believe it is a basic skill that leads to develop complex skill for new innovation also to express ourselves as a human being. The purpose of teaching origami may be different for each individual. Just an entertainment, an example for geometry curriculum, or a spiritual art. Origami material is just paper, so it is affordable for everyone to learn. But the invisible cost is time, do you want to spend 2-10 hours to create origami instead of financial investment.

For me, I am tired from capitalism and do origami as an art of hidden messages.


My first unpleasant experience about kusudama was around 2015. One of the rules I learn is no one can post kusudama YouTube video without permission from the designer. These rules have disturbed my thinking everyday.

If I become an artist, I will not use these rules to my work.

As a destiny, I got talent from nowhere to make a plenty of kusudama since December 2018.

To be analytical, I will find the reason to support each point of view.

Rule 1: No one can post kusudama YouTube video without permission from the designer

Why we have this rule?

  1. To prevent other people make money from artist's designs.

  2. To be ethic and show respect to the designer.

What will happen when YouTuber break this rule?

  1. The regulation team will leave a comment "please delete the video".

  2. If the comment was ignored, bad reputation will be given to their kusudama community and spread to public social media post.

  3. The regulation team will invite folders to ban that YouTuber by not folding their works.

What are the possible consequences?

  1. Some creators will not continue creating new work because of fear.

  2. Many people will become a regulator to be noticed as a kusudama expert.

  3. Folders will play safe to fold only models that the regulation team approved.

  4. Artists will get too many email asking for permission. /or/ Artists will not get any email and no one will make a video of their design.

  5. Friendship will be destroyed among origami community.

Who gain the benefit from this rule?

  1. The regulator team will consider themselves successful to protect the artist.

  2. Artists may gain benefit by monopoly principle.

Who lost the benefit from this rule?

  1. Folders cannot access to the instruction nor share an alternative instruction easily.

  2. Artist's designs may be forgotten. (Mankind lost knowledge)

  3. Creators may get an injustice copyright infringement.

What is the problem?

The rule is not clearly written about the punishment for people who break the rule. The regulation team believe they have right to do a punishment. My question is can we trust the regulation team?

My suggestion for punishment:

  1. Let YouTuber pay for a license of the design. (this is a copyright law objective)

  2. If YouTuber disagree, contact YouTube to remove the video. (let YouTube decide, not the regulation team)

  3. Sue in court. (this is the best way to test origami copyright valid)

Rule 2: Each kusudama has only one name and only one designer.

Why we have this rule?

  • To maintain the history of unit invention.

What is the problem?

  1. It is normal to invent the same unit because kusudama design is abstract and simple. But we cannot confidently write our name as a designer because there might be someone invent before. We also did not know the name of model if it existed. The regulators suggest to write ? after our name to be humble and write no name for the social media post. The regulators expect everybody to do this practice. If creator just give name immediately and state their name as a designer, the regulators will check for the copyright. This will be fallen with Rule 1.

  2. The word "designer" is misleading. Its meaning become "the first inventor" instead of "invent by myself".

  3. If the idea come from existed unit, use the word "variation" after original name. It is hard to clarify what is a variation or what is not.

  4. Kusudama has many structure levels for naming:

  5. Unit

  6. 30 units model

  7. Finished artwork with paper and color choices We use only one name for all differentiation. This limitation suppress creativity and freedom to express interpretation of design.

  8. The regulators will ask creator to change their artwork name and the artwork lost its meaning representation.

What is the benefit if each kusudama has many names and many designers?
  1. Folders will give credit to the source that they learnt from. If the first designer did not give an instruction, they cannot have right to claim all the work from later designer hardworking.

  2. New creator can use the word designed by with no anxiety.

  3. Creators no longer have to wait the approval from regulators.

  4. Newly social post will be seen only once in feed. No name model will be recognized as no name, make it hard to give a reference to the design. Give name immediately is better for identification.

  5. Keep the fact how the model was designed. If creators invent by themselves but write designed by other, this will be misunderstood that they learn from other artist which is not true.

  6. There is no concept of model was stolen because many people can own the same design. If the model is well-known, the original author will be given credit by the majority of community. The designer will not lose the ownership.


I think the rules should make everybody life easier, but many people who hold this tradition will disagree.

We aim to protect artists, but actually we disrupt wellbeing of society.

We want to inspire kids to create something new, but the rules are not supportive.

This is my point of view, thank you for reading this proposal.


Updated: Jul 9

Kusudama is a Japanese word composed of “kusu” means medicine and “dama” means a ball. At first, kusudama is a hanging ball made of fragrant flowers and tassel. Japanese people give this ball for sick people to wish them cure by hanging it over curtain. Later they replace real flower with paper flower because real flower may be toxic to some people. Venus Kusudama is an example of the first change.

People use origami to make paper flowers and hang together by thread. Then they design a variety of origami flowers and glue together. Flower Kusudama is an example of this type. It become a gift and decoration in Western wedding event.

In 1970’s, origami artists develop a technique called modular origami. They fold many pieces of origami and assemble a ball using no glue. Tomoko Fuse designed many modular origami ball and published many books such as Origami Floral Globe, Unit Origami Fantasy, and Unit Polyhedron Origami. The modular origami ball can look like a flower ball, a star or a geometric polyhedron. Many origami folders are interested in this kind of origami. They try to create new designs and become a community online. They use the word Kusudama to be any modular origami ball.

In summary, Kusudama is evolved from flower ball to paper flower ball using origami and then any modular origami ball. While it is changed, Kusudama meaning of “medicine ball” is still valid because folding many pieces of paper to make a kusudama is a meditation practice which help people stay away from mental disorder and benefit children in many skills such as fine motor skill, patience skill and creativity skill.

Kusudama is a medicine ball.