Let us introduce from left to right: the grey old-fashioned robot from the 50s, the “Space Patrol” robot in his car on a pedestal and the flying robot dog on a LEGO brick. Welcome to the wonderful world of paper crafts!

Universal Paper Craft!

At one point, everybody enjoyed making it at as a kid: Paper crafts! Just by cutting and folding you can create your own line of unique paper toys. As it doesn’t require any special technique, all of you big-clawed fellas too, can have fun making these delicate paper toys slowly and carefully at your own pace. Once you get the hang of it, try a bit more of the difficult paper crafting such as animals and insects, then move on to the outright challenging wind-up toys or spaceships. For today, PingMag is visiting the AssistOn gallery space in Harajuku for its current paper crafting exhibition. And hold your breath…afterwards the PingMag crew will try to engage in paper crafting too.

Written by Ryoko
Written by Rie Ishimi

Paper crafts can be pretty anything made out of paper, from architectural models to wind-up toys. The pattern for each of the model is printed on paper and cut out along the lines. Then, each piece is attached and assembled. The elaborate structure of, say, a paper swan or a cathedral is overwhelming. Amazing, what you can do with paper alone!

A sailing ship made by paper crafting. That must have taken quite some time… Unbelievable, isn’t it?
Exquisite paper swan – even feels so real. Tracing papers are used for its wings.

The works currently exhibited in AssistOn are sold by the publishing company Shubunsha Co., Inc. Shubunsha handles various books related to architecture and recently has been working on the Japanese version of Une Petite Maison, designed by famous architect Le Corbusier. It’s no secret that the president of Shubunsha has long been an avid fan of this captivating hobby. The company started producing paper-crafting books on various fields in hope to appeal to wide range of audience – and find as much joy as their president did. Seeing is believing: Open your eyes to the wondrous world of paper crafts:

All of God’s Creatures

First, let’s start with the works of various creatures. Animals are always familiar things that we could relate to, so here’s the paper elephant, the paper giraffe, the paper dolphin, and the paper penguin and last but not least, the paper dinosaur. Interestingly, some paper crafts are waterproof and even designed to be played with in the bathtub or even swimming pool! Sounds amazing, but since we didn’t get that far today, we invite our beloved readers to experiment and get back to us if you will…

A waterproof paper whale for your bathtub playground…

… and his pal, a waterproof paper penguin, next to a little turtle.

Since this consists of only one piece, this paper beetle can be assembled without scissors and glue. If you are into bugs, that looks really cool!
How cute: a twirling lion cap. If you put this on your head and run fast, the paper animal’s face will twirl. To see the movie, click here!


Paper crafting is a great source of reference for individuals studying architecture. Re-creating miniature houses and buildings through paper crafting helps future architects understand all the process; as building them in 3D with CAD software is certainly not enough. One of the good examples is Katsura-rikyu – a representative of traditional Japanese architecture, often referred to as a masterpiece of the Edo period. Currently, some of the rooms in the actual Katsura-rikyu are not open to the public. So you’ve better luck understanding the structure by sticking to all the details of its paper-crafted version, and building one for yourself!

Paper craft of Katsura-rikyu: the representative of traditional Japanese architecture. With its special structure you can remove the roof and take a closer look inside.
Paper model of the old Tokyo Station by Shubunsha – when computer graphics had not become mainstream yet. If all goes as planned, Tokyo station, will be reconstructed to regain its original design and architecture by 2011.

You can also see the inside of the paper building.

The inside of a hotel. Even the tiniest details are re-created exquisitely!
Paper Nikko Tosho-gu youmeimon – extremely elaborate paper work!

Paper Tin Toys

Next, we are going to show you some paper crafted tin toys that were quite popular in Japan in the 1950s. It’s getting increasingly difficult to get authentic tin toys from that era. But thanks to paper craft you can still get the overall picture. The following series are courtesy of Mr. Teruhisa Kitahara, curator of Hakone’s Tin Toy Museum:

Clipper and armored truck created from original paper models from the Kitagawa collection.

The book includes three models such as original paper models from the “Kitagawa Collection 01” and “Smoking Robot”. You can see the movie, click here!

Finished wind-up paper of the “Smoking Robot”. If you turn the side-handle, the robot starts walking for real!

Move It!

The paper crafting book titled KARAKURI no MOTO includes the works by paper crafting designer Keisuke Saka. He created the paper tin toys shown above. This book includes 10 models and comprehensively describes the basic structures of movable paper crafts.

The cover of KARAKURI no MOTO, a book about movable paper crafting.

This page shows some reference examples about the movement and the structures. There are all kinds of unique wind-up paper-crafts.

Paper Cartoon Characters

As mentioned earlier, one of Shubunsha’s goals is to invite people of all ages to enjoy creating paper crafts – and ideally while chatting with kids. Have a look at some of kids’ favourite and popular cartoon characters made to out of paper:

From the Kitaro anime series. Here, the character called Medama-oyaji is sitting on protagonist Kitaro’s head.”
Unbelievable! Wind-up paper craft with a remote controlled Geta! They even made a movie out of it! To see the movie, click here!

Finally, PingMag gave paper crafting a try!

Now it’s our turn: sitting in the sunny office, we started with the easy ones called “Easy to make – Frog” and, Oh My God! those sweet childhood memories, the Paper Trolls from the Moomin Valley!

Paper crafting books, “Frog” and “Paper Trolls” from the Moomin Valley (published by Shubunsha).

We cut out each piece carefully with scissors in order to avoid tearing the delicate pieces with fingers… Actually, in the end it wasn’t necessary to use scissors.

Cutout pattern. This shape actually reminded us of the time when we had to dissect a frog in anatomical class… Ugh!

Little Me of the Paper Trolls from Moomin Valley. Unlike the paper frog, there are more pieces to cut out and then each of the delicate pieces had to be put together. It was pretty hard to assemble, especially Me’s head. But during the process, we became full of nostalgia for the good old days when we were little kids immersed in our curiosity…so we did enjoy the experience quite a lot!.

Cut the pattern carefully and slowly…

Every piece has to be cut out accurately!
The process to paste each piece is a bit tricky. Me’s facial expression is so funny whenever we see it because she looks as if she is plotting something. What is she thinking of next?
We finished the cute paper crafts instantly while we were chatting about this and that….

There are awfully many types of cute paper crafts. So, why don’t you take this opportunity and try one for yourself? The paper crafting exhibition exhibition might give you some inspiration. It runs through May, the 31st, at AssistOn in Harajuku. So, check out these beautiful crafts! When you see the paper crafts first hand, you will be quite impressed and taken by their delicate details.

  • Cyberpukish

    Awesome stuff. Wonder how long do they make such things?

  • Happa

    Impressive, to do stuff like that require really good Patience for both who creating and enjoying

  • swede

    nice mumin!!
    mumindalen tornedalen

  • Pingback: mobmash blog » Blog Archive » links for 2007-05-25

  • http://www.letter16.com FRC

    Canon has many super paper craft projects online:

  • http://www.johncassimatis.com Yani

    they look really delicate, but incredible. excellent story

  • Emme

    Lovely! Reminds me of some of the Chris Ware (Acme Novelty Library) paper models.

  • http://tipsofallsorts.com Clara

    Wow, the paper crafts look so good!

  • http://www.12one21.com/ G

    I’ve always wanted to make one of those paper craft kits. They look really detailed and complicated. The kind that would end up getting glue all over my fingers and knees! :)

    My favourite would have to be the remote controlled geta. And I’ve got one of those Smoking Spaceman tin toys. For reals.

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  • shenshen

    so funny!!
    I like it so much.

  • http://ocularinvasion.com emory

    These people are paper geniuses!

  • Katherine

    Where could I get “Paper Trolls from Moomin Valley”? I want it!

  • http://seeratzhryahoo.com seeratzhr

    Ilove these work and Im willing to learn these thing can you help me out.

  • http://Firefox Alice

    This work is mind blogging,, such talent and patience, I have done some origami, but nothing compared to this work…A true genious…alicebluegown

  • andy
  • MadDog

    Does anybody know where I could get that fantastic looking flying swan?

  • http://angelpage angel

    thats great

  • http://www.l.van.breemen.scarlet.nl Linda van Breemen

    I like the swan very much. Can you tell me where exactly I can buy it? I had a look on the japanese site, but could not find it…

  • easthigh

    i want to make that how do you do that?

    please replay!!!!

  • http://ctdavies@hotmail.co.uk Chloe

    Hi- I’d love to get hold of some of the Paper Troll books but the website attached to the link is in Japanese. Does anyone know where I can buy them in the UK or how to get them online please? Thank you so much!

  • Sheila Godfrey

    Like others I would like to buy the moomins book. Cant find a way to get it in the uk though

  • http://coolkidstuff.blox.pl/html judyta

    In Poland we also have paper craft projects:

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