Google Wednesday observed the 101st birth anniversary of Akira Yoshizawa, the grandmaster of the ancient Japanese art of paper folding called Origami, through a doodle which appeared like folded papers.

Yoshizawa, the man who transformed Origami from a children's pastime into a serious art form, permeated his paper artworks with magnificent grace and sculptural innovation. Thanks to Yoshizawa's efforts throughout his life, Origami is an internationally recognized art today.

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An Origami Google Doodle Celebrating Akira Yoshizawa ’s 101st Birthday. Credit: Google

Born in 1911 to dairy farming parents, Yoshizawa had to move to Tokyo and started working in a tool factory when he was just 13 years old.

Yoshizawa was promoted to a technical draftsman in his early 20s and then started using Origami as tool to teach basic geometry to younger employees.

In the mid-1930s, Yoshizawa left the factory to pursue his passion for art. He struggled for more than 20 years until the Japanese magazine commissioned him in 1954 to make the 12 signs of the Japanese zodiac to illustrate its next issue. This was the incident that proved to be the turning point in his career, projecting him on to the international stage, The Guardian reported.

Since then, Yoshizawa's works of art have been exhibited in many international platforms including Stedelijk Museum in 1955.

Yoshizawa founded the International Origami Centre in Tokyo in 1954 when he was 43.

On March 14, 2005, his 94th birthday, Yoshizawa died of pneumonia.

One of the key Origami techniques pioneered by Yoshizawa was wet-folding, a technique in which the paper is dampened before folding, letting the folder create a much more rounded and sculpted look. According to many, this was the paradigm shift of sorts that allowed Origami to become an art form.

Yoshizawa also served as a cultural ambassador of Japan and was honored with Japan's Order of the Rising Sun in 1983.

The Origami Google Doodle

The Origami Google Doodle with ready-to-flutter butterflies in different colors was created by Robert J Lang, one of the world's leading Origami artists.

The combination of simplicity and depth is part of the essence of Origami, and is key to Yoshizawa's work and legacy, Lang wrote on the official Google blog.

Lang is a former laser physicist, who left behind his jobs in NASA and Silicon Valley to devote himself to the art of Origami.

According to him, when Google approached him to create a doodle commemorating Yoshizawa's work, it set the parameters of the design: The Google logo, of course, but to be folded with Origami and then decorated with examples of Yoshizawa's designs.

The butterflies used in the doodle are inspired by Yoshizawa's earliest designs.


Credit: official Google blog.

To help create the Origami doodle at home, Lang has given the links to download PDFs of the crease patterns for each of the letters. You can print them and fold on the lines: red=valley fold, blue=mountain. Watch the video below to create a butterfly.

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