The Public Paperfolding History Project

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The Cup and Saucer / The Japanese House
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the origami designs known as the Cup and Saucer or the Japanese House (which is just the Cup and Saucer turned upside down). Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other information that should be added. Thank you.

Not all the Cup and Saucer or Japanese House designs on this page are made in an identical way.


In Japan


As far as I know the design first appears, as the Japanese House, in 'Yochien Ombutsu No Zu', a publication of kindergarten material issued by the Tokyo Women's Normal School in 1878.



The design also appears in 'Origami (Part 1)' by Isao Honda, which was first published in Japan in 1931.

(Version 2 - Made from the Double Bookfold Basic Fold)


In Western Europe / USA


There is mention of a design titled 'Tasse' (cup) in a list of 'Lebensformen' (Forms of Life) in 'Das Paradies der Kindheit' (The Paradise of Childhood) by Lina Morgenstern, which was published in Leipzig in 1861. Unfortunately there is no illustration of the design..



(Version 1 - made by bookfolding a square and opening out the bottom corners)

As far as I know the first illustration of the Cup and Saucer (De kop en schotel) first appears in 'De Kleine Papierwerkers 1: Wat men van een stukje papier al maken kan: Het vouwen' (The Small Paperwork 1: What one can make from a piece of paper: Folding) by Elise Van Calcar, which was published by K H Schadd in Amsterdam in 1863.




(Version 2 - Made from the Double Bookfold Basic Fold)

A slightly different version of this design appears as 'Kaffeetasse' in 'Die Praxis Des Kindergartens' by Auguste Koehler, which was published by Herman Bohlau in Weimar in 1873.


The design also appears:


(Version not identified)

In the revised version of 'Der Kindergarten' by Hermann Goldammer which was published by Carl Babel in Berlin in 1874.



(Version 2 - Made from the Double Bookfold Basic Fold)

The design also appears, as 'The Inkstand', in 'Kindergarten Practice' by Mary Gurney, which is a substantially abridged version, in two parts, of 'Die Praxis Des Kindergartens' by Auguste Koehler. The second part, 'Froebel's Plane Surfaces', contains sections dealing with paper folding, cutting and weaving. The date of the first edition is not known. The second edition was published in 1877 in London by A N Myers and Co.



(Version 3 - Similar to Version 1 but with the top quarter of the square folded downwards first.)

In 'Paper Toy Making' by Margaret Campbell, which was first published by Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons Ltd in London, probably in 1937, although both the Foreword and Preface are dated 1936, which argues that the book was complete at that date.



(Version 4)

The design also appears in three variations, as a house, Noah's Ark (L'Arche de Noe) and a cup and saucer (La Tasse), in 'Au Pays des Mains Agiles', which was published by Editions Fleurus in Paris in 1949.