Akira Yoshizawa was born on March 14, 1911. His parents were dairy farmers, but he moved to Tokyo when he was just 13 years old to take a job in a factory. When he was in his early 20s, he was promoted from his factory worker position to a job as a technical draftsman. As part of his duties, he was responsible for teaching new employees basic geometry. He decided to use origami, which he had learned as a child, as a teaching tool to make these lessons easier to understand.
In 1937, Akira Yoshizawa quit his factory job to practice origami on a full-time basis. He essentially lived in poverty for most of the next two decades, making a meager living by selling tsukudani on a door-to-door basis.
During World War II, Akira Yoshizawa served in the army medical corps in Hong Kong. He made origami models to cheer up the sick patients, but eventually fell ill himself and was sent back to Japan.
In 1951, a Japanese magazine asked Akira Yoshizawa to fold models of the 12 signs of the Japanese zodiac. This was a turning point in his career, since the exposure led to several exhibitions of his work and the publication of 18 different origami books.
In 1954, Akira Yoshizawa founded the International Origami Centre in Tokyo. The Centre helps promote awareness of origami by arranging exhibitions, demonstrations, and instructional classes.
In 1956, Akira Yoshizawa married his wife Kiyo. She served as his manager and taught origami alongside him until his death.
Akira Yoshizawa’s incredible origami skill afforded him many opportunities to travel around the world, which made it possible for him to serve as a goodwill ambassador for the Japanese government. In 1983, he was named to the Order of the Rising Sun. This is one of the highest honors for a citizen of Japan.He created more than 50,000 models.
On March 14, 2005, Akira Yoshizawa died from complications of pneumonia. This was his 94th birthday.
“Over all, I want you to discover the joy of creation by your own hand. … The possibility of creation from paper is infinite.” — Akira Yoshizawa
“True, elegant and lasting noble art of Origami as a symbol for World Peace” —Akira Yoshizawa