Lonely Planet Writer

See the amazing origami created from chopstick wrappers in Japan

A collection of thousands of small paper sculptures created from discarded chopstick sleeves by customers at restaurants across Japan has been turned into a unique art exhibition. Collected by Yuki Tatsumi, a former waiter who first noticed the “objects” in 2013, the origami creations in the Japanese Tip project highlight the beauty of the every day, as well as the unique charm of Japanese culture.

The Japanese Tip exhibition featuring thousands of chopstick wrappers.
The Japanese Tip exhibition featuring thousands of chopstick wrappers. Image by Yasaka Mariko

“My interest in collecting began six years ago when I was a university student working part-time at a restaurant. I was just trying to make money, and it was boring to clean messy tables after the customers. One day I found a piece of chopstick paper transformed by the customer’s unconscious movements. I thought it was such an interesting shape. As l looked around, I realized a lot of people were making many shapes and leaving it at the restaurant. I thought that this is a Japanese habit, so I named this object a Japanese Tip, and I considered this to be a “thank you” sign from the customers,” Yuki told Lonely Planet Travel News.

A chopstick sleeve left behind at a ramen restaurant in Tokyo.
A chopstick sleeve left behind at a ramen restaurant in Tokyo. Image by Japanese Tip

Following this revelation, Yuki said that his working day became much more enjoyable, as he hunted for new shapes and creations after a table left. To date, he has collected 15,000 items, and held his first exhibition featuring the sculptures in Tokyo at the start of December. Following that, another exhibition is due to be held at Café Hagiso in Tokyo from 11 January 2018.

A heart-shaped origami piece left behind at a restaurant in Kochi.
A heart-shaped origami piece left behind at a restaurant in Kochi. Image by Japanese Tip

The impressive collection features a huge range of colourful creations, with the paper being twisted, folded into different objects and shapes by customers. From green bow ties, yellow hearts, tiny white lanterns and multi-coloured frogs to fish, fans and little paper men, the collection shows just how creative the Japanese public can be when it comes to the art of origami.

The exhibition features thousands of unique pieces.
The exhibition features unique pieces from different restaurants and cities. Image by Yasaka Mariko

“The fusion of tradition and art really interests me. I am interested in styles of communication that do not use any words, in particular dance. I feel that there are various aspects that we can see and feel by collecting something. It’s not just the object or item, but also the circumstances surrounding its creation,” Yuki said. The project has also been turned into a book featuring images of the found objects.

The project's creator Yuki Tatsumi is interested in the fusion of tradition and art.
The project’s creator Yuki Tatsumi is interested in the fusion of tradition and art. Image by Japanese Tip

More information on Japanese Tip is available at the official website.