Origami in Japan!

John Montroll's Grasshopper
John Montroll’s Grasshopper

Origami is one of the primary reasons I have devoted my life to mathematics. When I was 5, my parents gave me my first Origami books and I was immediately hooked. I can remember waking up early every morning to fold all sorts of models. The geometry, logic,  necessary dexterity, and focus were all mesmerizing.

Origami has been a constant in just about all of my math courses. We have constructed specific angles in Geometry,  studied complex surface area and volume questions with the help of modular Origami in Multivariable Calculus, and worked on edge connectivity problems in Algebra 2. There are seemingly infinite numbers of ways to work Origami into just about any math lesson! You can read about a recent class module right here: Star Project Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Star folding!
Star folding!

Not only can Origami be applied almost anywhere in math, it’s incredibly fun. We’re only a few weeks into class and I’ve already had several students approach me to ask about when we’ll be folding. I can’t wait to get started with this year’s students!

Last fall, as part of my quest to learn as much as I can about Origami, I sat down with one of the world leaders of Math and Origami, Dr. Thomas Hull, Associate Professor at Western New England University and author of Project Origami: Activities for Exploring Mathematics. Dr. Hull was, as expected, provided an absolute wealth of information! We spoke about how to best design Origami lessons, how to choose topics, as well as his recent sabbatical trip to Japan. His input was invaluable in helping me design my Williston professional development application to travel to Japan and study Origami!

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-11-04-02-amWilliston accepted my proposal and  I was able to travel to Japan in August to attend the Origami Tanteidan in Tokyo. Needless to say, I had an incredible time!

Tokyo Subway
Tokyo Subway

My journey began with a smooth flight from Boston to Tokyo via Toronto. AirCanada proved, once again, to be an excellent airline. At the NRT airport in Tokyo I met up with my travel buddy, Eric and we immediately jumped into the city of Tokyo. Transport around the city proved to be quite efficient and fun! Even though the Tokyo transport map looks similar to a Jackson Pollock painting, it was super easy to navigate. Our hotel was quite comfortable and we quickly became acclimated to life in the city. Over the next few days we explored the city. Highlights of our meandering include:

Origami Kaikan, an absolutely incredible show room, store, and paper manufacturer:

Exploring the Tokyo National Museum, Asakusa Sensoji TempleShinjuku Gyoen National Garden, and a Samurai Museum:

Amazing food and the Meiji Jingu Shrine:

Of course, I had to thoroughly explore the Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest fish market in the world!

Soon enough, the Tanteidan convention began with an evening of registration and presentations from luminaries such as Roberto Morassi and Michelle Fung!

I also spent a good portion of Friday evening figuring out which classes to sign up for, a truly challenging process given the amazing choices! Here’s what I had to choose from:

Origrami Tanteidan 2016 - Schedule - Page 1
Origrami Tanteidan 2016 – Schedule – Page 1
Origrami Tanteidan 2016 - Schedule - Pag 2
Origrami Tanteidan 2016 – Schedule – Pag 2

The other big task for Friday was touring the truly jaw-dropping exhibition hall!

Saturday was absolutely thrilling as I got to spend the morning learning how to fold a dragon head from Satoshi Kamiya, followed by a really fun full dragon from Taiga Yamamoto! Both sessions were lively and my folding neighbors were very helpful, particularly Jason Ku!

Saturday was capped off by a dinner high up in one of the building on the Toyo campus, and Sunday was filled with sessions covering a Squirrel, a Bambiraptor, and some elegant flowers.

On Sunday afternoon I picked up a couple more books, said goodbye to my new Origami friends from around the world, and headed back into Tokyo!

That night Eric and I flew down to Hiroshima where we toured the Atomic Dome, the Children’s Peace Memorial, and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Next, Eric and I headed north by bullet train to Kyoto where we toured temples, parks, and museums.

Back in Tokyo we had one more day to get another round of amazing culture and food before our time in the magical land of Japan came to a close!

I couldn’t have been happier with how the trip went. Unreal Origami, super tasty food, a thrilling culture, and dynamic landscapes all combined for the perfect professional development experience!

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