DIY Japanese Craft Projects


Thanks to online tutorials, Japanese craft projects are easy to master even if you’re lacking an artistic gene. From binding pages into a notebook to crafting your first pair of origami earrings, budding artists can now find inspiration in these easy-to-follow DIY ideas and might even walk away with newfound skills. 

To help you get started, each Japanese craft project is rated on a scale of 1-10 in terms of difficulty. Projects with ratings above 5 tend to have more complex steps but are a blast to work on if you’re up for a challenge.


1. Origami Pikachu


Japanese Craft Ideas - Pikachu Origami
Image adapted from:
Paper Crafts 1101

Remember when we could live out our Pokémon trainer dreams through Pokemon Go, catching em’ all in parks and battling it out with other trainers in virtual Battle Domes? Although we are all encouraged to stay indoors these days, you can still satiate your love for Pokémon by making origami figures of popular characters such as the beloved Pikachu.

There are a couple of confusing paper-folding steps, so check out the video tutorial below for a step-by-step guide.

Materials:

  • Yellow-coloured paper
  • Pencil
  • Colour markers

Steps:

Origami Pikachu Pokemon (Ax&PaperKawaii) Paper Folding / Papier Falten / 종이접기 / Paper Crafts / おりがみ
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Origami Pikachu Pokemon (Ax&PaperKawaii) Paper Folding / Papier Falten / 종이접기 / Paper Crafts / おりがみ

 

Japanese Craft Ideas - Pokemon Origami Charmander Squirtle Flareon Zapdos
Image adapted from: Henry Origami, Henry Origami, Henry Origami, and Henry Origami

Tip: Check out Henry Origami for other Pokémon origami.

Difficulty level: 4/10


2. Japanese Watercolour Salt Painting


Japanese Craft Ideas - Watercolour Salt PaintingImage adapted from: The Crafty Classroom

Salt painting was revolutionised by a modern artist by the name of Yamamoto Motoi. The artisan is known for creating works of art made entirely with salt. 

Although most of us don’t possess even a fraction of Yamamoto’s talent, we shouldn’t let that get in the way. There’s actually a simple way to create something similar to Yamamoto’s creations watercolour salt painting.

Materials:

  • Drawing blocks, or a thick poster board
  • Watercolour paints
  • A dropper
  • Salt
  • Glue
  • Pencil
  • Paintbrushes

Steps:

  1. Trace out a design on a drawing block or on a poster board.
  2. Add a generous amount of glue on what you’ve traced and use a paintbrush to spread it out.
  3. While the glue is still wet, pour table salt over the board until the glue is fully coated.
  4. Once the glue has dried, remove excess salt by flipping the board over.
  5. Mix some watercolours and use a dropper to add paint onto the salted areas.
  6. Let it dry once you’re done.

Check out the full tutorial here.

Difficulty level: 3/10


3. Origami Butterfly Bookmark


Japanese Craft Ideas - Origami Butterfly BookmarkImage adapted from: Helena’s Craft

You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to handcraft a bookmark made out of scrap paper. With a black marker and some paper, you can create this 3D butterfly bookmark in a jiffy.

Aside from its eye-catching aesthetics, this nifty origami has several plus points too. Finding the correct page takes just a glance and dog eared corners are a thing of the past – all credit goes to the paper butterfly’s fitted pocket. Brownie points are added for its gorgeous butterfly design as well.

Materials:

  • Black markers
  • Ruler
  • Origami paper or scrap paper

Steps:

ORIGAMI BUTTERFLY BOOKMARK.
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ORIGAMI BUTTERFLY BOOKMARK.

 

Difficulty level: 7/10


4. Origami Earrings


Japanese Craft Ideas - Origami Fan Earrings
Image adapted from:
@mihos_origami_accessories

Handcrafting jewellery and accessories can be a hit-and-miss, especially if this is your first attempt. However, it definitely beats purchasing online when you could have made it yourself at a cheaper cost. Plus, you get to customise and tweak designs to your heart’s content. 

Tip: Instead of using gauge wires as earring hooks, save yourself the hassle and get ready-made ones online.

Materials:

  • Origami papers
  • 20 artistic gauge wire 
  • Beads

Optional

  • Pre-made earring hooks 

Steps:

ORIGAMI BUTTERFLY BOOKMARK.
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ORIGAMI BUTTERFLY BOOKMARK.

 

Difficulty level: 6/10


5. Japanese Paper Fans


Japanese Craft Ideas - Watermelon Paper Fan
Image adapted from:
Tonni art and craft

Japanese Craft Ideas - Flower Paper Fan
Image adapted from:
Handy Crafts

Here’s a simple Japanese craft project you and your kids can dabble in – Japanese paper fans. It’s easy to make from scratch and you can even combat the summer heat at home with these paper fans. Here are 2 different summery themes as inspo – a fruity pop-up fan and a floral design in vibrant hues.

Materials:

  • Colour papers
  • PVA glue
  • Ruler
  • Colour markers
  • Scissors

Steps:

DIY Origami Paper Fan Earrings Tutorial
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DIY Origami Paper Fan Earrings Tutorial

 

Materials:

  • Colour papers
  • PVA glue or any glue bought from a stationery shop
  • Ruler
  • Colour markers
  • Scissors
  • A piece of painted cardboard or wooden block

Steps:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msovxSwIGLo

 

Difficulty level: 3/10


6. Japanese Foam Block Printing


Japanese Craft Ideas - Japanese Foam Block Printing
Image adapted from:
The Crafty Classroom

This project recreates the aesthetic of traditional Japanese woodblock printing. Instead of carving onto a woodblock, styrofoam plate or foam printing sheets are used. 

Materials:

  • Styrofoam plate, styrofoam meat tray, or foam printing sheet
  • Paint
  • Papers
  • Pen, pencil, or a stick

Steps:

  1. Cut off any rims so that the styrofoam plate is flat on the ground.
  2. Using a pencil, a stick, or a pen, carve out your design on the styrofoam plate
  3. Once done, paint it over.
  4. While the paint is still wet, flip the carved styrofoam plate onto a piece of paper.

Check out the full tutorial here.

Difficulty level: 3/10


7. Kumihimo (Japanese braiding)


Japanese Craft Ideas - Kumihimo Bracelet
Image adapted from:
@kumihimo.ayanas

Friendship bracelets are reminders of our childhood when saying “I love you” to a BFF was best conveyed by a DIY bracelet. Keep the tradition alive with kumihimo, a fairly simple weaving method used by Japanese artists.

For starters, you will need a kumihimo disk made of foam or cardboard. You can also choose to DIY or purchase it from craft stores. 

Materials:

  • A kumihimo disk
  • Threads or yarns
  • Scissors

Optional

  • Bracelet clasps

Steps:

Cute Paper Pop Up Fans /DIY Watermelon Hand Fans |making paper fan /how to make a japanese paper fan
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Cute Paper Pop Up Fans /DIY Watermelon Hand Fans |making paper fan /how to make a japanese paper fan

 

Difficulty level: 3/10


8. Japanese Bookbinding


Japanese Craft Ideas - Japanese Book Binding
Image adapted from:
Spirit DIY

Instead of buying new notebooks, try binding your own instead. There are many methods of binding, but not all are created equal. Compared to regular stitch-binding – a lengthy process of threading a book one page at a time – Japanese bookbinding is easier, more visually striking, and only takes a few hours to complete.

Materials:

  • Papers folded in half
  • 2 paper boards as book covers
  • Thread and needle
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

Steps:

Learn Kumihimo, a Japanese Braiding Technique
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Learn Kumihimo, a Japanese Braiding Technique

 

Difficulty level: 7/10


9. Japanese House Kits


Japanese Craft Ideas - DIY Miniature Housebuilding KitImage credit: Shopee

Well, this one is a bit of a cheat since you don’t have to source for the materials yourself. But DIY Japanese house kits are a blast to work with if you’re a fan of miniature craft projects. What’s more satisfying is the construction of the details – geta scandals, tatami mats, and even LED lights as finishing touches.

Get your hands on these 3D puzzles from various e-commerce platforms like eBay and Amazon. Each house kit comes with step-by-step instructions, which is perfect for newbies. 

Difficulty level: 4/10


Unleash your creativity at home


Don’t let cabin fever kill your buzz for the arts. Getting stuck at home can be a dreary experience, but these 9 Japanese craft ideas are the perfect pick-me-up to keep your creative juices flowing. 

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Cover image adapted from (clockwise from top-left): Helena’s Craft, The Crafty Classroom, Paper Crafts 1101, and Spirit DIY