Celebrating Shuzo Fujimoto

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Related people: Shuzo Fujimoto

Shuzo Fujimoto in 2006 (image courtesy of Robert Lang)
Shuzo Fujimoto in 2006 (image courtesy of Robert Lang)

2022 will mark the 100th anniversary of Shuzo Fujimoto’s birth. Shuzo Fujimoto (藤本修三, Fujimoto Shūzō; October 27th 1922 – July 28th 2015) was a Japanese origami creator who introduced many innovations in the field of geometric origami. He is best known today for his origami tessellations such as Hydrangea and Clover Folding, and was among the first designers to utilize the triangle/hexagonal grid. Many of his other works are 3D objects folded from single sheets, an example being the famous Fujimoto Cube. He also introduced many useful origami constructions such as folding regular polygons from squares and dividing the sheet into n equal parts by various methods.

Despite him being a very influential creator, only a small subset of Fujimoto’s models are widely known, and even less information is available about his life. Personally, I admire Fujimoto’s work very much, and feel deep appreciation towards him since his tessellations were among the first I ever folded, and later on several occasions I independently came up with the same ideas he had a few decades earlier. Therefore, I would like to invite the origami community to celebrate 2022 as the Year of Shuzo Fujimoto.

What’s coming up? One thing I’ve been working on is creating as complete a listing of Fujimoto’s models as possible. I’ve been going through all his books, trying to sort them out. This is very interesting but not quite simple since the earliest books (Twist Origami I-III, Rittai Origami) resemble loose notes rather than modern, edited origami books, and are basically photocopies of hand-written pages in Japanese. Since I don’t speak Japanese, I’m left with pictures (often abbreviated, skipping over many intermediate steps), and whatever Google Translate is able to produce from the text. Still, the number and quality of the designs are stunning. I also find the geometric constructions very interesting, though following through in order to understand them exactly is quite time-consuming.

I am also compiling a short biography, getting snippets of information from various printed sources, and from people who met Fujimoto. It’s surprising how little we know about him as a person — before I asked his son, even Fujimoto’s exact date of birth was nowhere to be found.

I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so I’ll just add that a few other nice things are also on the way.

A number of people have already helped with the project, and I am very grateful for their involvement. In particular, I need to mention: David Brill, Hitoshi Fujimoto, Robert Lang, Satoko Saito, and one special helper whose identity will be revealed a little later on.

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