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Look closely: these bonsai trees are made from thousands of tiny origami cranes

In what might be the most Japanese thing ever, artist Naoki Onogawa has been fusing two timeless Japanese traditions: origami, and bonsai.

For anyone unfamiliar with origami, it’s a syle of art, originating in Japan, in which elaborate sculptures are created using only folded paper. And Naoki Onogawa has based this project around one of the simplest and most iconic origami patterns: the crane.

As for bonsai, that’s another thing entirely. Also from Japan, bonsai is an artistic horticultural tradition, based around pruning of bonsai trees into aesthetically pleasing patterns.

So how do you bring these two seemingly disparate traditions together into one project? By replacing the leaves of the bonsai tree with thousands of tiny origami cranes:

The artist says these pieces draw on a Japanese legend, known as “1000 cranes”. But you don’t have to know Japanese folklore to appreciate that these things are just really beautiful.

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Hello again

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nice to see you again.

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But you have to wonder: how long did it take to fold all those cranes? They’re not as easy as they might look. Although I guess you’d get better at it as you went along. And anyway, it’s got to be faster than sitting around waiting for a real bonsai tree to grow.

Check out Naoki Onogawa’s origami bonsai trees, as well as her other work, on her Instagram.

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