Every time I hear the word origami, I always remember a popular Japanese story about one thousand paper cranes. The legend goes that anyone who folds one thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish by the deities. It is one of the stories that fascinated me as a child. I actually never tried folding paper cranes, but I made a lot of origami figures for my arts classes back in grade school.
Due to my extended interest in origami, I was excited to hear that someone is teaching origami in Beijing. Tomoko Ueda, from Japan, is living in Shunyi with her husband and their two children. She holds regular, themed origami classes, and her upcoming sessions are for spring and Easter! She sat down with me to show examples of her adorable origami bunnies and also told me more about her passion for the Japanese craft.
How do you make origami craft different from the usual and interesting for parents and kids?
In Japan, origami is either for kids or adults and I hope more people could enjoy this craft. That’s why I’m trying to combine what’s new with culture and tradition. Origami in essence is a traditional art, while the materials and style are the new things [that bring life to the art.]I’m really interested in other cultures [of different countries]so I try to fit my crafts [to them]. So last Chinese New Year, I made a zodiac circle origami with the Chinese zodiac animals. People actually liked it! So it’s different from traditional Chinese New Year decorations since I add a Japanese touch to it.
So what do parents and kids say when they finish their origami crafts?
They’re so excited, happy, and proud of themselves. Some origami crafts are not easy to make and they take time and patience. So when they finish the craft, they feel like they accomplished something [really great.]
How does origami help parents and children to bond?
This kind of craft requires them to sit down and take time and actually parents learn from kids. Also, you can tell kids see the world differently when they do crafts [with their parents.]That’s what I like about it when I teach kids. Origami gives them the idea to be patient to accomplish something. I also want my craft to be the space for them to be creative. The most fun part for kids is decorating their finished products. For example, when we create an origami horse, it can be of any kind [depending on how kids design it.]It can be a night horse or a unicorn. Their eyes start to sparkle!
What do your children say about your origami classes? Do they get jealous of them?
Sometimes! But they’ve done so many origami classes with me and I think they’re a kind of proud of me! My kids attend an international school, so [many students there]are not familiar with origami. So I’m a little bit of a “star” for my kids. Actually my daughter is a good adviser for me. Sometimes I don’t know what they [her origami students]like. So I often ask my daughter’s opinion and she tells me what she thinks. My son sometimes does that too!
Why is origami a good indoor activity?
Usually you don’t need glue and scissors in traditional origami. If you have paper, you can do it anywhere. Actually I bring my origami paper in airplanes, or while we’re waiting in a hospital. Just bring origami paper and kids can play with it anytime. It’s also an interactive activity for kids and parents. You will be surprised at how creative they [kids]are. For example, (Ueda holds a triangle tissue paper) this is just a triangle for adults but children can imagine so many things with this. They say it can be a hat or a sandwich or a mountain! Children create a story using a sheet of paper and they actually enjoy it.
Ueda conducts origami classes in her home and at the Riviera Sunday Market, both located in Shunyi. She’ll also host Easter-themed classes in the middle of March. To sign up, email email@example.com or add her on WeChat with her id: Tomoko Ueda. Other event details are listed below.
Friday origami classes (after school)
Ages 6+ RMB 70/participant inclusive of origami materials. 4.30-5.30pm. Beijing River Garden Villas, 7 Yuyang Road, Houshayu, Shunyi. 北京裕京花园. 顺义区. 后沙峪榆阳路7号.
Sunday origami classes (after school)
Ages 6+ RMB 70/participant inclusive of origami materials. 1-2pm. Riviera Sunday Market/Club House, Shunyi.
Origami classes at international schools
Mondays at 3.45-4.30pm (MSB) and Wednesdays at 2.30-3.30pm (ISB)
(UPDATED) Special Easter classes
Kimono in bunnies on March 17 and 19. Easter egg origami on March 24 and 26. Easter basket origami on April 9 and 14. RMB 70/participant inclusive of origami materials. 4.30-5.30pm at Beijing River Garden Villas, 7 Yuyang Road, Houshayu, Shunyi. 北京裕京花园. 顺义区. 后沙峪榆阳路7号 on Fridays.1-2pm at Riviera Sunday Market/Club House, Shunyi on Sundays.