Brooklyn meets Japan

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The ancient art of origami meets the newer by comparison borough of Brooklyn, where Taro’s Origami Studio lets visitors try their hand at various paper folding projects recommended by ability levels. Basic yellow belt techniques result in the simplest works, like basic cranes or pocket-like cups. Orange belt folks can make more elaborate cranes, and blue belt types fold everything from hearts to dinosaurs and penguins. Achieve purple belt skills and you’ll be folding the likes of frogs and roses.

This was rather disappointing news, since I headed to the studio with grand visions of making gifts to take home for the rest of my family — a heart for my hubby, a frog for my son and a penguin for daughter Jennifer. I hit the studio without my daughter Lizabeth, who studies acting in Manhattan, and cringed when I first suggested the outing. “I’m not very good at origami,” she told me. We’re a perfect pair that way. But she had rehearsals, so I did my solo thing.

I’m eager to experience the art of Japanese paper folding alongside her one day. Living in a burough that bustles non-stop, it’s nice to have places a bit off the beaten path where relaxation is plentiful and art gets personal. NYC is full of grand museums, libraries, galleries and performing arts venues — but it’s just as lovely to explore lesser known haunts.

Turns out there’s another bit of Japanese arts and culture in Brooklyn — the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Japan-related offerings include a Bonsai Museum, Japanese Hill & Pond Garden, and Cherry Esplanade. Folks on cherry blossom watch can consult an online map of the esplanade for updates — though today they’ll find just a single pink flower icon signifying a lone “first bloom.”

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is also home to a Fragrance Garden, Shakespeare Garden, Rock Garden and much more — any of which I’d love to try and replicate in some shady Arizona spaces were my son not such an advocate for xeriscape gardens in the desert. My poor little shamrocks are hanging on for dear life now as it is. Best not to butcher any more blossoms, I suppose.

One day, perhaps, I’ll achieve purple belt status so I can create my own indoor garden of origami botanicals. In the meantime, I’m just trying to master the fine art of sitting still long enough to make that first fold.

— Lynn

Note: You can try your hand at origami thanks to an area at the Mesa Festival of Creativity being presented by Bookmans, and experience the fine art of paper folding at this year’s Children’s Festival at the Japanese Friendship Garden. More photos from Taro’s coming in another couple of days!

Coming up: More fun with origami, One block in Brooklyn, Up close with Rodin, The swing & I

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One response to “Brooklyn meets Japan

  1. Very cute post, mom.
    If you don’t bring home a finished product, get us some origami paper so you can try again later!
    When you get back, maybe I’ll teach you to make an origami hedgehog. They are pretty simple.

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