The Lister List

Isao Honda – An annotated list of his books

Compiled by David Lister


1. ORIGAMI: Japanese Paper Folding. Toto Shuppan Co Ltd. 1957

Ostensibly issued by the Toto Origami Club. Honda’s name does not appear anywhere in the book.

2 ORIGAMI: Japanese Paper Folding: Penguin Book.

Published by Toto Shuppan Co Ltd. 1957.

Ostensibly issued by the Toto Origami Club. Isao Honda is given as its President.

This book is a reissue of the previous one. The cover is slightly changed with the addition of a picture of a folded Penguin and the words “Penguin Book”.


3. ORIGAMI: Japanese Paper Folding: Monkey Book

Published by Toto Shuppan Co. Ltd 1958

Ostensibly issued by Toto Origami Club: President: Isao Honda.



4. ORIGAMI: Japanese Paper Folding. Fuji Book.

No publisher given.. Distributed by Japan Publications Trading Co. Ltd 1959

Issued by Asahi Origami Club: President: Isao Honda.

Most of Honda’s books were distributed by Japan Publications Trading Co. Ltd. and it may be asked what exactly were the relations between that Japaj Publications Trading Co. Ltd., Toto Shuppan Co. Ltd, the Toto Origami Club and the Asahi Origami Club.


5. ORIGAMI; Japanese Paper Folding. Sakura Book.

No publisher is stated. Distributed by Japan Publications Trading Co Ltd 1959.

Issued by Asahi Origami Club: President: Isao Honda.

These five (effectively four) books are most attractive colourful books for children. They have actual folded models stuck into the appropriate pages.

The Penguin Book was one the first Japanese books on paperfolding in English to be published in the West, in the same year as the first of Florence Sakade’s three books, (also called “Origami, Japanese Paper-Folding”). At about the same time, two other books in English with the title “Origami, The Japanese Art of Paper Folding” were printed in Japan in English and issued under the names of Toshinobu and Hideako Mihara, who were then living in San Francisco (as their descendents still do). Unfortunately it has so far not been possible to establish the precise dates of publication of these two books, of which there arrear to have been more than on edition.

1957 was the same year that “Origami Dokuhon” (in Japanese) by Akira Yoshizawa was published and In the following year, 1958, “Origami Zukan” by Kosho Uchiyama (also in Japanese) was published.

It was about 1957 that Lillian Oppenheimer deliberately decided to use the word “Origami” as the name she would use instead of “paperfolding” and in 1958 she founded the Origami Center in New York. The coming together of entirely independent movements in both the West and in Japan to popularise paperfolding in the West under the name of Origami was a remarkable coincidence.

There seems to be no question, however, that the almost simultaneous publication of these Japanese books bearing the name “Origami” helped to establish the use of the word “origami” for “paperfolding” in the West.

The Toto Origami Cliub and the Asahi Origami Club were both fictions and used by Isao Honda instead of his own name. It has been suggested that there were differences between Honda and the Toto Shuppan Publishing Co. which led him to change to the Asahi Publishing Company. Nevertheless, the format and style of all five books attributed to the two companies is identical and it will be noticed that some of Honda’s later books were also published by the Toto Shuppan Co Ltd. So that it is clear that Honda did not sever his associations with that company.

6. Isao Honda: How to Make Origami 1959.

This is the first English-language origami book that appeared in Isao Honda’s own name. It was published in Japan by Toto Shuppan Co. Ltd and by other publishers in the West; in the United States by McDowell Obolensky of New York and in England by Museum Press Ltd of London. I understand there were other editions, possibly in other languages.

This book is a most attractive hard-bound book, somewhat in the format of Honda’s earlier books. Like them it has actual folded models stuck into the pages. The art-work is most attractive and whatever criticism may have been made of Honda, “How to Make Origami” is an outstanding book which has been praised by many folders who came to origami through it. The Introduction was written by Lillian Oppenheimer.

7. Asahi Origami Club: Pocket Guide to origami: Bunny Book. 1959.

8. Asahi Origami Club: Pocket Guide to Origami: Bow-Wow Book. 1960.

These two books are in the same style as before, but in a format half the size. They have folded models stuck to the pages.

Both are stated to be published by with copyright reserved to the Asahi origami Club,. The name of Isao Honda does not appear in either book but there can little doubt that Asahi Origami Club was merely a synonym for Isao Honda

9. Isao Honda: All About Origami. 1960.

Published in A4 size by Toto Bunka Co. Ltd. and distributed by Japan Publications Trading Company.

This was the first attempt by Honda to consolidate all his models into a single volume of 196 pages.. It is mainly in black and white, but it has a few colourful pages with actual folded models attached to them. There is a short historical preface and also a short chapter towards the end about various historical aspects of origami .At the end is a short chapter on Origami and mathematics and also bases, but it is only elementary.

10. Isao Honda: Origami Zoo: Animal Book. 1961.

Published by Toto Shuppan Co. Ltd

11. Isao Honda: Origami Zoo: Bird Book. 1961.

Published by Tot Shuppan Co. Ltd.

These are two books in the style of Honda’s first books but with 28 pages of double the size in a horizontal format. They are tassel-bound and protected by boxed sleeves They have the same colourful designs and folded models stuck into the pages. The models are all similar to those appearing in Honda’s earlier books.

12. Isao Honda: Living Origami: Book One. 1962.

13. Isao Honda: Living Origami: Book Two. 1962

With these two books, Honda has changed his allegiance from Japan Publications Trading Company to their rivals, Charles E. Tuttle Co. Inc. of Rutland Vermont. However, the copyright remains with Toto Shuppan Co. Ltd.

The books are in much the same style as the earlier ones with very attractively designed coloured pages and actual models stuck into to them.

An innovation is that the models use “pre-printed” squares of paper. The use of such squares was a fairly old tradition in Japan. The paper was so designed that the patterns fell into place if the model was correctly folded. A packet of appropriate pre-printed squares was supplied with each of the books.

The actual models are much the same mix as before.

14. Isao Honda: Noshi: Classic Origami in Japan. 1964.

Published by Japan Publications Trading Company

This book is a completely new departure and is about noshi and other “tsutsumi” or Japanese ceremonial wrappers. The text however is quite elementary and leaves more questions unanswered than are answered. A few formal wrappers are given, but they are padded out with informal wrappers and “tatos”. At the end Honda includes a section about napkin folding, which was a Western art, which he had learnt in the West.. Nevertheless, the book contains some useful information.

15. Isao Honda: The World of Origami 1965.

Published by Japan Publications Trading Company, through local publishers in different countries. (In London, by Blandford Press Ltd. )

This is a substantial hardbound A4 book of 264 pages and Honda’s magnum opus. Like “All About Origami” it contains the whole of Honda’s oeuvre and more, with a historical introduction, and sections on non-square paper, figures from Kayaragusa, traditional Japanese dolls sections on techniques and creativity.. and a bibliography.

Remarkably, it includes some modular rhombus constructions by Akira Yoshizawa, but at the same time, a scathing reference to Yoshizawa in Honda’s comment on Origami Dokuhon in the bibliography. A note on the dust cover also claims Yoshizawa as Honda’s pupil!.

16. Isao Honda: Origami Folding Fun: Kangaroo Book 1967.

17. Isao Honda: Origami Folding Fun: Pony Book 1967.

These two small A5 books are very much in the vein of Honda’s earlier books, with familiar models and colourful pages. Each includes one actual folded model.

Published by Japan Publications Inc.of Tokyo..

18. Isao Honda: Origami Holiday: 1967.

19. Isao Honda: Origami Festival: 1967

These are two medium-sized colourful paper-backed booklets in Honda’s usual style. Each has several folded models. Most of the models are familiar from Honda’s earlier books. Each has one model using pre-printed paper which is supplied with the book.

Published by Japan Publications Inc. of Tokyo.

20. Isao Honda: The World of Origami: Popular edition, 1976.

This is a abridged paper-backed edition of the original book which was published in 1965. It contains only 182 pages and omits 62 pages from the latter part of the original. It also omits the Bibliography and the material contained on the dust cover of the original.

21. Isao Honda: New Fuji Book.

22. Isao Honda: New Sakura Book.

These were reissues of the original Fuji Book and Sakura Book, possibly with additional material. I have not seen either of them and am unable to comment on them.


These three books are mentioned here because they were at one time supposed to be by Isao Honda. No assertion about their attribution is made here, but they are mentioned in case anyone might wish to investigate the matter further.

23. My Origami Birds. 1964.

24. My Origami Flowers. 1964

25. My Origami Animals and Fishes. 1964.

These three books were published in 1964. They were printed in Japan, with copyright reserved to Zekeisha Publications.

The American editions were published by Crown. In England the books were published as “Origami Birds”, “Origami Flowers” and “Origami Animals and Fishes” respectively (without the word “my”) by Methuen. I have also seen an edition in Dutch and there were probably editions in other languages.

At the time of publication there was some discussion in “The Origamian” as to whether the books were by Yoshizawa or Honda. They were definitely not by Yoshizawa. Many of the models are traditional, but some of the birds in “My Origami Birds” are the same as those in books by Isao Honda and they may be his work used without his permisssion. On the other hand, Honda shows a mountain fold with a letter “P” beside a dotted line, whereas these books do not, so his authorship is questionable.


26. Isao Honda: Origami, Part 1, 1931.

Honda’s first book, which is listed by Gershon Legman in his Bibliography of Paper-folding without any further comment. I have never known anyone who has seen a copy and do not know anything abut its contents.

However, Honda was interested in traditional origami and it is likely that it was a collection of traditional folds. I have never seen any suggestion that Part 2 was ever published.

27. Isao Honda: Origami Shuko. 1944.

“Origami Shuko” means “Origami Handicraft”.

There is some mystery about this book. It contains a section of folds by Akira Yoshizawa which are fully attributed to him. Yoshizawa had offered his folds to Honda. They are typical of Yoshizawa’s earlier folds, being of animals formed from two squares of paper. I understand that Honda included Yoshizawa’s folds with some reluctance because they were not traditional folds and for that reason, Honda did not consider them to fit in with the rest of the book.

The book was published in 1944, but for some reason, Honda, himself said that it was published in 1941. It has been suggested that this was because he did not wish it to be known that the book was published during the Pacific War.

Honda also tried to say that all copies of the book had been destroyed in the bombing of Tokyo and that even he did not retain a copy. Nevertheless, Honda includes Origami Shuko in the bibliography of his book, “The World of Origami”

28. Isao Honda: Nihon no Kokoro Dento Origami: 1969

“Heart of Japan, Traditional Origami”. Published by Nichibo Shuppan Sha.

This is a Japanese translation of the hard-backed edition of “The World of Origami”. It is a hard-backed volume of the same size as the English edition and with 264 pages. Most of the contents are the same, but there are minor changes and rearrangements.

There is a copy in the library of the British Origami Society.


29. Honda Origami Sutajio (editors): Origami Nippon. 1970

(Honda Origami Studio: Japanese Origami) . Published by Funabashi,

This is a medium-sized book with a soft cover. The book is apparently a book published by followers of Honda. I have not inspected it.


30. Isao Honda: Mon Kiri: Japanese Art of Paper Cut-out: 1959

31. Isao Honda: Mon Kiri: Japanese Art of Paper Cut-out: 1972.

These are two editions of a book about cutting Japanese Mon (Japanese coats of arms), which often employ kirigami techniques.

32. Isao Honda: Mon Kiri Playtime: 1967

A simple and colourful hard-backed book about cutting Mon Kiri, with press-out templates for making designs.

Published by Japan Publications Trading Company of New York.

33. Isao Honda: Monsho: Family Crests for Symbolic Design

This is a serious work on Japanese Mon which are the equivalent in Japan of Western coats-of-arms. It is not a book primarily about cutting Mon.


I have also downloaded from the Web a small and very poor image of another book by Honda, apparently in a European language, perhaps Hungarian. I am unable to decipher the title or the language.

There may also be other books by Honda or translations into other languages of which I have no record. I will welcome corrections and information about other books by Isao Honda.

David Lister.

27th October, 2005.

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