The leaf pictured at the top of this post isn’t a leaf at all. It’s made of paper and is an exquisite example of the Japanese art of papercutting is called Kirie (切り絵, meaning ‘cut paper’). All of the extraordinarily delicate examples of the Kirie seen here were handmade by a self-taught Japanese artist named Akira Nagaya, whose skills were first discovered about 30 years ago while he was working in a sushi shop.
"One of his first tasks was to learn sasabaran, a technique to create decorations by cutting slices into bamboo leaves. Back at home, and recalling his boss’s demonstration, Nagaya tried to practice using paper and a utility knife. He found that the technique came quite naturally, and he enjoyed doing it.”
Years later Nagaya was still making his intricate paper objects when he opened his very own restaurant and decided to display his kirie “for fun.” When a local newspaper showed up to review his restaurant they spotted his creations and encouraged him to display them in a gallery.
“That was the first time I even considered what I had been doing as art,” recalls Nagaya.
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