Kamikiri, the amazing Japanese art of paper cutting

Paper cutting is the art of cutting paper designs.The oldest surviving paper cut out is a symmetrical circle from the 6th century found in Xinjiang China.

By the eighth or ninth century paper cutting appeared in West Asia and in Turkey in the 16th century. Within a century, paper cutting was being done in most of middle Europe.

The art has evolved uniquely all over the world to adapt to different cultural styles.


That’s pretty deep ☆



Japanese Artist Hand-Cuts Insanely Intricate Paper Art That Looks Like Pencil Drawings!




SouMa is an artist who chose paper cutouts as her medium. She creates complex and very intricate 2D and 3D pictures from only one sheet of paper. When you see her art, it is hard to believe that they were made from only one sheet of paper.



According to her profile, SouMa has been making paper cutouts since she was 6 years old and is completely self taught! The most expensive work is…2 million yen.😬






Nahoko Kojima☆

Japanese Paper Cut Artist, Nahoko Kojima builds on the success of her Cloud Leopard



Swimming Polar Bear,


Byaku (UK Tour, 2013)


to create her most ambitious piece yet for her debut US show,



Washi (Ford Museum, 2014),


a life-sized Bald Eagle in flight.



Using custom made paper, the sculptures have a stark presence, suspended from invisible threads as though they are defying gravity.


Stories run through the bodies of the animals and the shadows cast are integral to giving the paper a soul. The pieces took almost two years to create from concept to cutting and hanging. Eight days were needed to hang the pieces in the Ford Museum.





Hiromi Mizugai Moneyhun☆

When she was a girl in Japan, Hiromi Mizugai Moneyhun fell in love with the paper-cut illustrations in the children’s books of the time.

But it wasn’t until she moved halfway across the world, to Jacksonville Beach, Florida, that she tried her hand at the intricate art form herself. Her hometown is Kyoto.



◉  What is your artistic background?

I’ve been drawing since I was a child, and I’ve done a little bit of tattooing. About four years ago, I had a lot of free time. My husband’s mom had a stroke. My husband was working, and I had to stay home to care of her. It was hard. So I thought, I have to do something for myself, something fun.

I had always thought I wanted to try paper cutting because I grew up reading children’s books with paper-cut illustrations. It’s not an uncommon medium. So one day I just tried cutting out paper.



◉  What were your materials?

Regular paper. At first it was a hobby, and I just used whatever was lying around the house. I had an X-Acto knife already, so I used that and I’m still using it today. My supplies haven’t really changed. But as time passed, my figures became more intricate.

At the very beginning, it was simple, only outlines. Now, it’s a lot of line patterns. My figurative images are all of my daughter. She’s 10 now, but I use images of her when she was a baby.


“Visionesses I,” 2013, paper. Courtesy of the artist.



◉  What drives you? 

Of course, it’s fun. I really can’t stop doing it, as I’m always getting more and more ideas. I start with a subject, and then I have some kind of message for each subject, each series.











Akira Nagaya☆

Japanese artist Akira Nagaya creates insanely intricate paper cuttings called “kirie”  that look like delicate pencil drawings or wire sculptures.

Nagaya discovered his talent in his early 20s when he was learning sasabaran – a technique for cutting food decorations from bamboo leaves at sushi shops.

When he practiced on his own using paper and a utility knife, he realized that he was good at it and that he enjoyed it. Only later in his life, though, did he start to look at his paper cuttings as art and display them to the public.



Nagaya first caught our eye with his takes on classic anime icons such as Totoro,


Son Goku,







Japanese animation isn’t his only inspiration, as we can see in his other creations that capture the delicate beauty of nature and the changing of the seasons.




As a matter of fact, Nagaya’s original inspiration to become a kamikiri artist, or kirishi, was a far more traditional aspect of Japanese culture than anime.

26 years ago, the now-47-year-old Nagaya watched a sushi chef carefully putting incisions into a bamboo leaf to add as garnish to a diner’s plate.

Captivated by the techniques he’d seen, Nagaya became a self-taught kirishi, eventually reaching a level of skill that allows him to produce some truly amazing pieces.



Just as cherry blossoms are a symbol of spring, in Japan, fireworks are evocative of summer. Obviously, Nagaya’s artwork wouldn’t last too long in the presence of an open flame, but some creative lighting allows him to recreate a lit sparkler in paper form.



For generations, Japan has gotten a few moments’ respite from the sweltering summer temperatures by watching goldfish swimming soothingly in a pool of cool water.



On the other hand, some opt to embrace the heat at summer festivals with taiko drumming.




Eventually, though, things start to cool off as autumn arrives and the leaves turn color.



We haven’t been able to find any snow-covered vistas in Nagaya’s collection, though, so we’re guessing winter isn’t his favorite season. (^ ^)

So how does he spend the coldest months of the year? We can’t say for sure, but looking at some of his other creations leads us to think he might pass the time leafing through Japanese art books, since he’s done an astounding job recreating Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa and Fine Wind, Clear Morning.





Or, does Nagaya attend kabuki performances and read up on folklore?





None of those hobbies would surprise us, and we’ve also got a strong hunch Nagaya spends at least a little time with a calligraphy brush in his hand.








He can who thinks he can, and he can’t who thinks he can’t. This is an inexorable, indisputable law.


- Pablo Picasso  -