http://hp1.tcbnet.ne.jp/~kanimiso/pro/aboutKusudama.html (Nice pictures here too)
What is a Kusudama?
This was introduced into Japan in the Heian period from China.
(The Heian era is from794 a.d. to 1192 a.d. )
Originally it is an ornamental scented ball or an ornamental ball made
of imitation flowers.
(The various spices such as the musk , agalloch, clove are put in the
bag of brocade and it is decorated with the string.
It is together with Japanese iris and mugwort ,etc..., and long string
of five-colored are hung down it.)
When writing in kanji, "Kusudama" is divided into two words.
Kusudama kusu=kusuri : ( medicine or herb medicine)
dama= t(d)ama : (globular shape)
At the boy's festival on May 5,the Kusudama is hung on the bamboo
blind and the pillar or put on body.
Because Japanese people believe that the Kusudama avoids ominousness
and exorcise the evil spirit.
It is like a charm and bringer of good luck.
Actually a lot of Kusudama can be still seen at the hospital in Japan now.
(This Kusudama is made from origami.)
When Japanese say the "Kusudama", it mean two things.
The one is a ball to use for congratulation.
It is used at the celebration and the athletic meet, etc.
The confetti and the paper tape are put in the big ball made from
paper and the styrene foam.
It is a mechanism that they come out from the inside when they are
divided into the half.
Another one is decoration.
Is mainly made from paper, and decorated in the room and the sickroom, etc.
This Kusudama is meant is "Decoration", "Talisman", and "Good Luck ".
This is models of the Kusudama that I have been making.
The shape of Kusudama is imitated globe.
Recently, the Kusudama is made in the shape of all polyhedrons and it
is called "unit origami" often.
Many Japanese people enjoy making and decorating the Kusudama.
Let's enjoy the making of the Kusudama with us! !
"Kusudama (medicine ball) is believed to have originated in the Heaian
Period (794 - 1192). At first fragrant woods and herbs were placed in
a small cloth bag, which was decorated with blossoms of sobu or iris
and other flowers. Long silk threads of five different colours were
attached to it. This was hung in the house on May 5 to dispel evil
spirits and disease.
The Emperor invited nobles and officials to Butokuden Palace on this
day and gave to each a kusudma and drinks of sake. It was a ceremony
to insure the happiness and good health of all. This ancient custom of
giving kusudama continued until the beginning of the 17th century. It
was discontinued by the Emperor Gomizuo (1611-29). "Since that time,
kusudama has lost all its connection with Court functions. It came to
be used as an ornament in the households of the common people, or as a
plaything for children. Thus, the original meaning of kusudama to ward
off evil and sickness with the fragrant medicines and woods became
The Shumakov's Lecture, no. 5 on their web site, mentioned by Dorothy
Engleman, adds further information, which I have not come across
elsewhere and I should be interested to know where it came form. They
write that in the 10 th and 11th centuries it was customary for people
to give to each other on the fifth day of the fifth moon, colourful
pendant spheres made of paper called kusudama. [This tallies with Mock
Joya's account because the modern equivalent of the fifth day of the
fifth month is 5th May, which is the Boys' Festival, now officially,
designated as Children's Day in modern Japan.]
The Shumakovs write that by night kusudama were hung up above people's
pillows or attached to curtains. They were filled with aromatic herbs
to protect people from illnesses. By day men hung them on their belts
and women used them to decorate their sleeves
I other words, in the days when diseases were thought to be caused by
noxious vapours, the kusudama originated as a bundle of sweet-smelling
herbs and flowers to ward off the causes of illness. With the passage
of time the decorative functions of the kusudama replaced its
health-giving functions and flowers and herbs came to be replaced by
paper flowers that were strung together to form the kusudama with
which we are now familiar.
The kusudama has its equivalent in the west in a pomander of
sweet-smelling herbs, such as might be hung in a wardrobe or the
nosegays that are still carried on some ceremonial occasions in
England by judges and by the dishes of pot-pourri, dishes filled with
dried flowers and herbs which housewives sometimes set around the
house or in small bags which they place among clothing.
There is no set form of kusudama and it has become the subject of
individual creativity in the same way as any other kind of origami. In
its simplest form it is a number of origami flowers threaded together
by their lower ends and then drawn together to from a ball. The
traditional origami lily makes an ideal subject for this. In recent
years, however, kusudama have taken the form of modular creations,
made in the manner of polyhedra. Traditionally, however, a kusudma
should have a bundle of brightly coloured ribbons hanging underneath
Many books on origami contain one or two kusudma. But I have found
several that deal specifically with kusudma. There is even one in
English, although written by a Japanese. This is "Kusudama Ball
Origami" by Makoto Yamaguchi (0870408631). It is obtainable from Kim's
Crane and probably from other suppliers or origami books. It contains
instructions for twenty-six kusudma of various kinds, including the
traditional "flower" ball and the more recent modular type.
Another small book devoted to the subject is "Kusudama", by Kasuhiro
Kano and published by NOA Books in 1988. (ISBN 4-418-88504-8).This is
in Japanese, but with titles and, where known, creators in English. It
contains instructions for about forty kusudama , some traditional and
some more modular in style. There are some fascinating designs.
Yoshihde Momotania and Tomoko Fuse, in their different fields, two of
Japan's leading creative paperfolders, have both published books
devoted to kusudama. Yoshihide Momotani's book is named "Origami
Flower Ball" and was published in 1994 (ISBN4-900747-02-5). It is in
Japanese, but, like all of his recent books, it has titles in English
and the models are highly individualistic. Many of his kusudama bear
the name of a flower, such as Bougainvilea or Bellflower, and the
finished creation has the characteristics of the flower whose name it
bears. Some of his models are traditional; others use wired frames;
some employ tessellations; others are frankly modular. One creation is
a cluster of cranes that could have come from the Senbazuru Orikata.
Glancing through this book in a very restricted field, I am reinforced
in my view that Yoshihide Momotani is a greatly underestimated
Tomoko Fuses's book is entirely in Japanese, and its title translates
as "Newest Kusudamas". It was published in 1992 and the ISBN is
4-416-39209-5. Here also is a great variety of styles of kusudama,
from fairly traditional clusters of paper flowers to quite simple
modular polyhedra. Many of the polyhedra are far from simple and
demonstrate Tomoko Fuse's characteristic way of ornamenting a basic
polyhedron with geometrical or flowery decorations. The most
impressive creations come between the two extremes and there is a
particularly fine ornament that looks lie a cluster of daffodils.
Finally, small kits of origami and instructions for making kusudama
used to be available from the Origami Source of origami USA. They may
still be obtainable and would make a simple introduction to a
different kingd of origami, which has considerable antiquity behind
I have the impression that kusudama hve been neglected in the West.
Not every folder is interested in complex and taxing forms of origami
and for those who are more attracted to a more decorative kind of
origami. kusudama may be attractive. Even for lovers of modular
folding and more complex origami kusudama can still offer challenges.
I for one am grateful that Myriam ands Louise asked about the subject.