Yukio Akiyama: the art of origami kitemaking

It's amazing how something that seems so simple can actually be fairly complicated & meticulous in its construction, and something so small can bring an incredible amount of joy. This is the origami kite world of Mr. Yukio Akiyama, a talented kite designer, kitemaker and author from Japan. This October he travelled to the U.S. to attend his first AKA Convention in Seaside, Oregon, and to teach an origami kitemaking workshop.

Yukio Akiyama and his tulip kite

Peace Crane kite

Early on a foggy morning, I drove out to Seaside to deliver supplies for his workshop, which was to be held at 9 am. When I arrived around 8:15, there was already a small crowd assembled - excited about the origami kite workshop and curious about Akiyama and his fellow Japanese travelers.

Participants working

As we set up, the room filled quickly, including AKA President Barbara Meyer, WKM Director Kay Buesing and miniature kitemaker Charlie Sotich. We were to make a "Peace Crane," modeled after a traditional origami crane. Everyone labored away over gluing the tiny pieces, followed Akiyama's demonstrations, and appreciated the one-on-one attention he gave for each step of making the kite.

Akiyama helping a participant

As participants finished, they stood up to give their bamboo flying sticks a gentle wave. The room would hush as the colorful crane with long, thin tails rose and floated gracefully, almost effortlessly, in the still air. Flying one of Akiyama's origami kites is like experiencing kite flying meditation - a moment to get lost in the pure, beautiful experience of his design.

Participant flying a kite

Akiyama brought many kites with him to Seattle, and gifted the Drachen Foundation with a few examples of his designs.

Lastly, one impetus for Akiyama's visit was his recently published book, Paper Kite Applique Designs, which was published in collaboration with DF. It's an excellent, fully illustrated book on making origami kites from traditional Japanese kite designs.

Akiyama signing copies of his book

To pick up a copy of the book, go to our online store here.