Japan and Korea

August 2012… A dream come true—an Origami Convention in Japan AND Korea! Yes, I was fortunate to be able to attend these two conventions with my friend, Doris Asano.   

We started in Tokyo for the Tanteidan Convention.  I was amazed to be with some of the most prestigious folders from around the world;   teaching and exhibiting.  Every aspect of the convention was organized to perfection….down to each class starting exactly on time…to the late, fun-filled, Bingo night with our host, Makoto Yamaguchi.    Books, paper, models to learn…my eyes heavy from jet-lag, I did not want to miss a thing.  The kindness, helpfulness and respect shown by the Japanese contingency was overwhelming.  The words “thank you” have never felt so lacking.  Someday, I hope to show the same kind of hospitality to those who welcomed me.

Our tour after the convention was to Sendai, the area of Japan affected by the earthquake and tsunami.  Mr. Yamaguchi had already made several origami caravan trips to the area.  As foreign guests this year we were asked if we would like to take part in a mini caravan.  All of us unanimously agreed, it would be the opportunity of a lifetime.  And it was.

I was also touched by the resiliency of the people we met. Instead of depression and anger I saw people who had good attitudes and could smile and find enjoyment in the origami we were sharing. I think the Origami Caravan, established by Yamaguchi-San has made a difference with the residents of this area. Many people have donated money, clothing, and other material assistance, which is hugely important, but people also need fun and positive human interaction. The Origami Caravan provides all that and more. The people and children were smiling, learning and for a moment in time forgetting the situation they have found themselves in.  I feel that I received more positive from this [Origami Caravan excursion] experience than I gave-from people who had so little to give.

If one world wind week in Japan was not enough to satisfy my origami craving-Korea was a short flight away.  Korea is a mecca for people who love paper craft.  Only the 3rd convention of its kind, the Korean Origami Convention is well on its way to being a paper folders’ destination.  Although smaller and more intimate, the level and quality of folding and paper craft was still exquisite.  Now, the eyelids are heavy from lack of sleep from touring, folding and shopping.

Oh, yes, and shopping!  Korea is a mecca for shopping!  If my suitcases were not full enough from the shopping extravaganza in Japan….Knock offs, high end-“the real thing”, craft supplies…you name it…even an origami decorated suitcase!  Doris and I finally found our appropriate “thank you” gift for our host-Yamaguchi-san.

Next up…Pacific Coast Origami Convention in Albuquerque, NM-October 3-7, 2013…I hope we can make this a once in a lifetime experience for our guests!

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