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My Memories of Akira Yoshizawa

The 14th of March, 2011, was a special day for all of us in the origami community: it was the centenary anniversary of the birth of Akira Yoshizawa (14 March 1911 – 14 March 2005), origami grandmaster, who is considered by many as the father of modern origami.

In 1997 I had the opportunity to meet Master Yoshizawa, in person, when I attended my third origami convention in New York City. Yoshizawa was the guest of honor at the convention and everyone was very excited that he agreed to attend.

At that time I was still somewhat of a novice “closet” paper folder –and a shy one at that and had not yet established much contact with other folders even though there was ample opportunity to do so in this great city. I wasn’t fully aware of either the scope or influence of Yoshizawa’s work, so I was extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend one of his classes.

One of his books, “Na Inochi Yutaka Origami”, offered at the convention, caught my eye. Not only were the models and diagrams in the book wonderful, but the quality of the drawings and the design of the book were beautiful if not exquisite.

The price of the book far exceeded my budget, but I was persuaded to purchase a copy by a very wise paper folder who whispered to me “Who cares about going without food for a few days? In the future, you will be very glad to have acquired such a good origami book.” So, I bought it!

With his own hand and before my very eyes, Yoshizawa inscribed his book on the last page alongside his photograph. I treasure this book along with the rabbit he taught and the ticket I kept that gave me entry to his class.

Photograph of Akira Yoshizawa, origami master. Including an origami rabbit, and an origami wizzard created by Yoshizawa and folded by Leyla Torres

Thanks to my friend Anne LaVin, I learned what the inscription in the book reads. It’s Yoshizawa’s name, written vertically.


Today I pay tribute to the life and work of this extraordinary artist. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet him and grateful for being a beneficiary of his many contributions and achievements.

The ticket to my class and Master Yoshizawa teaching that class


For more about Akira Yoshizawa read the excellent articles written by David Lister (UK)

Akira Yoshizawa
The Art of Akira Yoshizawa

A Book by Yoshizawa*:

Akira Yoshizawa, Japan’s Greatest Origami Master: Featuring over 60 Models and 1000 Diagrams by the Master

Did you ever meet master Yoshizawa? Share whatever memories you might have!

*Amazon Affiliate


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7 thoughts on “My Memories of Akira Yoshizawa”

  1. Dear Leyla,
    I met Akira Yoshizawa about 30 years ago in Neubiberg near Munich. I was so impressed that I also started folding. Years later I became a member of Origami Germany.
    With kind regards

    • Hi Marianne and welcome to Origami Spirit. Thank you for sharing about your meeting with Master Yoshizawa and how you started folding because of that encounter.
      Big blessings!


  2. I also have the same book with his autograph. I met him when he went to the BOS 30th anniversary convention where I bought the book and was able to get it signed. It was amazing to watch his hands as he folded the paper.

    • Hi Peter,
      Great you sharing with us about having a copy of Akira Yoshizawa’s book. I never regretted my decision to buy that book, and I treat it carefully because the leaves tend to come apart.
      One of my favorite models is a dragon. Years ago, I made a big one for my mother in law to take to the library where she used to work. They still have it!
      Do you have a favorite model from this book?

  3. I never met Akira Yoshizawa, I joined the BOS in 2005 so one of my first BOS magazines was a tribute to him. The photographs of his models are astonishing: what impresses me is the way he captured the essence and character of his subjects in what appears to be so few folds. I’ve been told that it is very difficult to reproduce his models with the same intensity, even with diagrams. A sign of a true artist.


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