The first paper making technique came to Japan from China in 7th century.
The Japanese developed another processing method using different materials. They created "Washi" which is a high quality Japanese paper. This paper is resilient and soft, and does not tear when handled.
Around the 10th century, paper was used for wrapping items or letters. It became fashionable to decorate letters and gifts with artfully folded paper.
A well-regulated lifestyle came with the advent of the samurai society, which gave rise to the art of paper folding for practical and formal purposes. It was also used in religious ceremonies.
Today, a vestige of its former use can still be seen in the "noshi", a decoration of folded red and white paper attached to a gift. Origami was made to assume concrete shapes like cranes or boats. This is regarded as origami for pure enjoyment and called "play origami".
In the Edo period (1600-1868), mass-produced, low-priced paper first became available. It quickly grew in popularity among all the people, not just the elite class. People enjoyed "play origami " as decorative elements or toys.
In 1797, the oldest Origami book in the world "Senbazuruorikata" was published by Tamehachi Yoshinoya, and introduced the way to fold 49 kinds of continued Origami without cutting a sheet of paper. In 1845, the book "Kayarasou" was published. This era produced many Origami creators.
During the Genroku era (1688-1704), it became fashionable to use origami cranes and several varieties of boats as designs on clothing. Boat and crane origami were also reproduced with great frequency in Ukiyoe prints. Origami rapidly came to have a wide following during this period.
During the Meiji period (1868-1912), origami was used as a teaching tool in the kindergarten and elementary school levels. Not only are there now many imaginative and novel origami creations, but its educational worth and immense potential have been reconsidered and recognized.