Origami for the Connoisseur – My Favorite Origami Book

As a lifelong origami enthusiast, I’m delighted to share my enduring passion for what I genuinely consider to be the greatest, most brilliant origami book ever produced – Origami for the Connoisseur.

Origami for the Connoisseur: best origami book ever
English editions of Origami for the Connoisseur

First published in 1985 through a groundbreaking collaboration between two virtuoso paper folding artists – renowned Japanese pioneer Kunihiko Kasahara and the late creative master Toshie Takahama – this exceptional publication set a new pinnacle for the genre that in my opinion remains unsurpassed across nearly 40 years and countless titles since.

From charming animals, to elegant modular polyhedra, to imaginative figurative sculptures, Origami for the Connoisseur covers the full creative range through diverse patterns spanning representational to mathematical styles. The folding diagrams and elucidating commentaries on key theories and techniques provide a masterclass unveiling the universal principles underlying origami arts.

Simply put, no other origami book so successfully bridges left- and right-brain sensibilities while compiling designs that feel uniquely fresh through decades of reinvention. That timeless stimulation and sense of discovery are key reasons I wholeheartedly consider this my forever favorite as the best origami book ever produced.

Pages from Origami for the Connoisseur
A beautiful example of the content of Origami for the Connoisseur: at the left, the beautiful chain of cranes in the “Tsurifune”; at the right, Haga’s theorem.

Why I Love This Book

The first half of Origami for the Connoisseur features Kasahara’s curation of geometric folding techniques – with elucidating explanations on innovations like iso-area folding by Toshikazu Kawasaki and theorems for constructing polyhedra by visionaries like Kazuo Haga.

The second half exhibits Takahama’s creative talents through her delicate Camellia design, plus figurative works hand-picked from globally esteemed origami masters such as John Montroll’s famed Stegosaurus or David Brill’s amazing Bottle.

I was instantly captivated discovering this fusion of left and right brain sensibilities while pursuing graduates studies in Japan. Assembling its intricate folds provided refreshing creative respite from academic intensity. Over 35 years later, I still periodically revisit this inexhaustible bible, continually gaining inspiration through its peerless:

  • Meticulous step-by-step diagrams
  • Insightful commentaries on novel techniques
  • Range of styles suiting varied skill levels
  • Curated works by paper folding legends

The iconic original 1985 Japanese release of this book, entitled Top Origami compiled content in an exquisite out-of-print hardcover with full-color images. now a rare out-of-print collector’s item. For dedicated fans, used copies can still occasionally be located on resale sites. But widely available English editions still deliver the underlying masterpiece through clean instructionals prepared by Kasahara and Takahama themselves.

The original “Top Origami” was the second released in a series of four Japanese books overseen by Kunihiko Kasahara. The first in 1983 – Viva Origami – spotlighted work by Jun Maekawa (also featured in Origami for the Connoisseur) while 1989 brought two additional titles: Origami, La Era Nueva and Origami, El Mundo Nuevo with origami art from top creators worldwide (although the books were published in Japanese, their titles were given in Spanish). Now out of print, these supplemental publications also contain many additional hidden gems for collectors.

I’m very fortunate to own this full Japanese series showcasing many incredible talents alongside Kasahara and Takahama’s signature work. But in terms of blending mathematical and artistic styles, I still consider Top Origami (Origami for the Connoisseur) to stand at the pinnacle as their best collaboration and the finest origami book produced.

Top Origami
Top Origami, the Japanese original version of Origami for the Connoisseur.

Book Highlights

Creations from top origami artists like:

  • Jun Maekawa – Geometric artwork, Hourglass, Clapper Rail
  • Tomoko Fuse – Rotating Tetrahedron
  • Toshikazu Kawasaki – Cubes, Iso-area folding, Rose, Fox, other flora/fauna
  • Kazuo Haga – Geometric theories, Polyhedra
  • David Brill – Lidded box, Bottle. Horse
  • John Montroll – Goose, Ground Beetle, Ramphorhynchus, Stegosaurus
  • Peter Engel – Kangaroo, Giraffe
  • Toshie Takahama – Camellia
  • Kohji and Mitsue Fushimi – Ptarmigan
  • Hisashi Matsumoto – Rotating Ring of Cubes
  • Shuzo Fujimoto – Cube
  • Mitsunobu Sonobè – Module
Some models in Origami for the Connoisseur

Who Would Enjoy This Book?

Origami for the Connoisseur does assume readers have some prior folding familiarity rather than being suited for complete novices. But intermediate to advanced origami artists will discover priceless inspiration within its pages. The challenges presented also make wonderful projects for origami learning circles or math students intrigued by paper arts.

The compiled works make for stunning displays – whether proudly shown off on your desk, gifted to a fellow paper folding devotee, or artistically exhibited alongside your own creations.

origami for the Connoisseur: geometrical modulars

Parting Thoughts

I wholeheartedly recommend Origami for the Connoisseur to anyone seeking to push their creative boundaries through origami in exciting new directions, or math lovers intrigued by geometry-in-motion. Allow its guidance to unlock new dimensions of artistic enchantment through folded paper!

Other Books by Kasahara

Other recommended books by Kunihiko Kasahara on Amazon are:

Creative Origami, Japan Publications, 1977

Origami Omnibus, Japan Publications, 1998

The Art and Wonder of Origami, Quarry Books, 2005

Amazing Origami, Union Square, 2002

Extreme Origami, Sterling, 2002