A samurai made out of a single piece of paper

A samurai made out of a single piece of paper

A Finnish origami artist named Juho Könkkölä made an incredible samurai in plated armour with nothing but a single sheet of 95x95cm paper:

Juho Könkkölä spent upwards of 50 hours scoring and folding just one sheet of Wenzhou rice paper to create this painstakingly detailed samurai complete with plated armor, traditional helmet, and sword. Beginning with a 95 x 95-centimeter page, the 23-year-old Finnish artist used a combination of wet and dry origami techniques to shape the 28-centimeter-tall warrior of his own design.

Juho has over 15 years of experience in origami modelling and takes inspiration from “history, folk tales, mythologies, books, movies, video games, and real-life observations”.

  • Tired: trying to fold a piece of paper more than 8 times
  • Wired: trying to fold a piece of paper into a crane
  • Inspired: trying to fold a piece of paper into a samurai

Related: Indo apples, samurai, and Japanese farmers and Yasuke, an African samurai in Japan

The folding process of origami Samurai Warrior

(via Twister Sifter)

Indo apples, samurai, and Japanese farmers

Indo apple

Gastro Obscura’s Emily Warren wrote about Japan’s apple history, including the nation’s first cultivated apple, the Indo apple:

Prior to a trip to the United States in 1871, Hosokawa Junjirō—who is best known as a legislator, not a farmer—heard from an American agriculturist employed by the Meiji government that apples would be worth growing in Japan. While traveling in the United States on a mission to study the country, Hosokawa acquired a large number of Ralls Janet apples, a variety famously cultivated by Thomas Jefferson. The trees arrived in Japan in 1874, and within the next year, they were distributed to research sites in Hokkaido, northern Honshū, and Nagano. Apples also found their way into farming communities through other pathways. John Ing, a Methodist missionary in Aomori, introduced a different sort of apple to Hirosaki City, and from it, former samurai Kikuchi Kurō cultivated Japan’s first apple, calling it “Indo,” after Ing’s home state of Indiana. This would become the parent breed of a number of popular Japanese varieties, such as the Crispin.

After hard work and a number of decades, the Fuji apple in 1939 when pollen from Red Delicious apple plants was mixed with Ralls Janet flower pistil. It was originally named “Agriculture-Forestry No.7” but almost ceased to exist:

As World War II raged, the apple-growing communities of Japan struggled. In 1941, an early frost wrecked the crop. In 1944, it was a typhoon; the next year it was an ill-timed snowfall that completely wiped out the harvest. Just after the war ended, a man-made disaster ensued in the form of new taxes that knocked the wind out of the apple industry, followed by a price collapse in 1948.

Of course the Fuji apple didn’t disappear and with some clever marketing and a reignition of the apple industry in the 50’s, it was back and more successful than ever.

Today, the Fuji apple is one of the most popular apple cultivars in the US and in China in 2016, its fresh apple exports reached 986,000 tons of which Red Fuji apples accounted for about 70% (my rough maths says that’s the equivalent weight of over 100,000 African elephants).

Yasuke - An African Samurai in Japan

Yasuke - An African Samurai in Japan

I watched The Last Samurai a few years ago and enjoyed it. While the movie was inspired by real life Westerners fighting in Asia and played up to the white saviour trope, it was enjoyable if not cliché. But this story is much more interesting.

Authors Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girard recently published a book entitled African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan retelling the story of a retainer in feudal Japan who served under a warlord. The legend goes that Yasuke arrived in Japan in the late 16th century, having travelled the world after being kidnapped as a child. Being a black man in Japan caused a stir – many had never seen a man of his complexion. Being a polyglot made him even more mysterious. But his dark skin drew comparisons to Buddha. His presence was courted by Lord Nobunaga, a powerful warlord and Yasuke became one of his samurai. His ability to learn quickly helped him become a powerful figure in Japanese society.

Yasuke’s mythology has transcended centuries and Lockley and Girard’s book isn’t the first of its kind to tell his tale (there’s a book list below you can check out). In African Samurai, Lockley and Girard give an untold story of Yasuke’s life and travels, as well as a new chapter in Japan’s history. Now, yes, this is another story about people of colour written by white guys but it’s still beneficial that the story is being reviewed ecounted.

The good news is there is an upcoming anime about Yasuke and Lakeith Stanfield is set to voice the black samurai (excellent choice). It will be written by Boondocks’ co-director, LeSean Thomas and scored by Flying Lotus.

Update: Here’s are the visuals for the anime’s theme song, composed by Flying Lotus.

Yasuke | Official Teaser | Netflix

Reading list

(Please note the following affiliate links are from Amazon)