Akira Yoshizawa, Japan’s Greatest Origami Master

Tuttle Publishing ISBN: 9784805313930 Hardcover 192 pages

Nui Nui are an Italian based publishers with whom I have authored several books, including one devoted to BOS creators.. Their quality control and graphic style is second to none, so I was delighted to see this title of theirs published in English by Tuttle (who are also re-publishing all Nui Nui titles).

Most of us will own several Yoshizawa titles, but this is an opportunity to buy a serious collection in English. The influence Yoshizawa has had on origami cannot be over-stated. He, almost single-handedly, set the standards for folding and creating, inspiring many of our current creative masters.

The diagrams are from his original books, scanned to a high standard and relaid in a more contemporary style within a 9×12 inches hardback format. Robert Lang supplies a superb introduction to and assessment of his work. There are also many beautiful photos of him and his work. Excellent colour photos give you all the motivation you should need to try them out.  This is not to say that you will get anywhere near the standards the Master adhered to. It is common knowledge that whilst technically simple, his work requires a “touch” that few of us possess, no matter how hard we try. You cannot teach “sensitivity”, but only strive to achieve it. In addition, much of his work is “wet-folded”, a technique where you use thicker paper but dampen it, allowing for infinately subtle folding nuances. I’ve used this technique for over 25 years and yet still struggle to get anywhere near the Master’s ability.

Projects include: The Koinobori and the Helmet, Butterflies of Every Kind, Fairy Tale Crowns and Caps, Lion Mask, Tengu Masks, and many more. My personal favourites include Fishes, Tadpole and Fox Mask, but really, there are so many superb designs on display here, showing the full range of subjects he worked with. There is also a useful bibliography at the end.

Worth buying? Silly question really, every serious folder should own this. OK, all the models have been previously published, but to find such a selection in one place, in English (OK, American) is a real joy. Nui Nui are to be congratulated, not least for preparing this book with the full co-operation of Kiyo Yoshizawa, a feat that speaks volumes for their professionalism. Tuttle also deserve plaudits for recognising the value of this book and their efforts with other artists such as Michael LaFosse.