Kawarasaki Kodo, Origami moyō, 1935

Artist: Kawarasaki Kōdō
Title: Origami moyō 折紙模様
Date: 1935 (Shōwa 10)
Medium: color woodblock-printed illustrated book, 2 volumes
Measurements: vol. I: 25.4 x 37.3 cm; vol. II 25.3 cm x 37.5 cm
Publisher: Unsōdō, Kyoto
Arthur Tress Collection of Japanese Illustrated Books. Box 81, Item 4:
See digital images here

Origami moyō demonstrates a variety of origami folds across its two accordion-style bound (orihon) volumes, illustrated with 30 color-woodblock prints of numerous flowers, butterflies, birds, dragonflies, crabs, cranes, and other creatures. Black-and-white diagrammatic illustrations interweave with vibrantly colored prints accented with metallic pigments and embossed patterns. These richly hued images situate the origami within fanciful settings, creating a dynamic sense of the completed form. While detailed instruction for the seemingly complex folds is absent, spare text identifies the names of the various shapes. In exquisitely displaying the range and beauty of fastidiously folded paper, origami moyō itself testifies to the tremendous potential for paper as medium in its form as an illustrated book.

Kawarasaki Kōdō (1899-1973) worked in Kyoto as a designer and illustrator. In addition to the present entry, he produced other elegantly executed, multi-volume pattern books depicting butterflies, fans, and decorative motifs. Origami moyō remains so popular that contemporary origami manuals still reproduce many of Kōdō’s designs.


Other copies:

Art Institute of Chicago, Ryerson & Burnham Libraries, Chicago, Illinois

The Gerhard Pulverer Collection, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Harvard Yenching Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts


Submitted by Zoe Coyle on November 21, 2019.