Imagine a fluffy cloud. Gently tuck it inwards. You will now get a beautiful icy glacier,” exclaims Shoko Aoyogi, as her nimble hands doggedly create myriad angles on the azure craft paper. Within seconds a sky-blue elephant tumbles down from her cupped palms and lands on its fragile limbs; surprisingly, its majestic scaffolds remain intact.
At this show stopper moment, Ayoyogi rummages through her gunny bag and deftly pulls out a huddle of doves in pink hues, which gently dive into the air. Excited gasps of the thrilled spectators fill the classroom. The dainty origami expert breaks into a toothy smile. Ayoyogi is used to the fan-following by now!
For the middle school students of Chettinad Harishree Vidyalayam in Chennai, the traditional art of paper folding was demystified at the lively origami workshop hosted by connoisseurs of the art from the Japanese Consulate in Chennai.
“I try to make it fun and easy to learn using the art of storytelling. It helps them remember,” says Aoyogi, who got the young audience into the groove with trivia-speckled yarns on the natural beauty of the Land of the Rising Sun.
Akiko Yamanashi, another expert and a maths-buff who rustled up miniature masterpieces in a jiffy, shared her insights on what drives her passion for the time-tested craft that inherently reflects Japanese culture.
“It’s an art you can enjoy by yourself. And it helps me make new friends,” she grins, confessing that no matter where, once she settles down to create the folds, she is the cynosure of all eyes.
Undeniably, the old world charm of the art captivates people from different walks of life, said Yamanashi. As far as its use in mathematics is concerned, it’s not only linked with fostering a broader understanding of geometry, but it can also help in enhancing the learner’s attention span, she added.
The intricately shaped paper sculptures also give room for experimentation, says Toshinori Tanaka, another visiting expat, who has been pursuing the art form for the past 40 years.
“I started out by trying what was already prescribed in textbooks again and again. Now, I create new shapes and encourage my students to innovate,” declared the proud teacher, sporting an infectious grin.
Soon the session that had participants unlock simple tricks to get the puzzling configurations right was wrapped up; and the Japanese akkas were lost in translation to a gaggle of autograph seekers.
H Samyuktha, a Class 6 student, caught cuddling her paper menagerie has the final word. “It’s fun to express my ideas in a different way. I cannot wait to try origami at home!”