Waiter spends five years collecting 8,000 tiny origami sculptures left behind by customers

While most chopstick sleeves end up in the garbage, the ones found by artist Yuki Tatsumi end up in an exhibit.

In his art project, entitled Japanese Tip, Tatsumi collects used chopstick sleeves that were folded into paper sculptures and then left behind by restaurant-goers.

The story goes, Tatsumi started the project in 2012 when he was a waiter. He was cleaning up a table, and he noticed one such paper sculpture.

Japan doesn’t have a culture of tipping, but Tatsumi realised that origami chopstick sleeves were an alternative way of showing appreciation.

These so-called ‘tips’, as it turns out, were fairly common amongst the Japanese. So common, in fact, that he’s collected over 13,000 pieces over the years.

Earlier this month, he held an exhibit in Tokyo, featuring 8,000 works sourced from various restaurants and cafes all over Japan’s 47 prefectures.

Japanese Tip is a project between restaurants and customers,” Tatsumi told Spoon and Tamago, “to communicate the ‘appreciation for food’ and ‘appreciation of the service’ by using the most common material used at any Japanese restaurant.”

You can see more from the series here.