Say hello, Yakko San!

Traditional Yakko San

The Yakko San Model

It’s quite a while since I put up anything that included instructions on how to make it, so I thought it was about time I did. Today’s model is an Origami Yakko San – a stylised human figure. The name Yakko San is derived from the Japanese word for a type of servant to a Samurai. 

This is one of the best known traditional models, and like all the traditional designs, it’s very easy to do, so it is ideal for making with children. Yakko San is also very quick to fold. I made five of these in about fifteen minutes!

Folding Yakko San

Any square piece of paper will do. I used an ordinary piece of 15cm x 15cm (6in x 6in) origami paper, or kami to fold the Yakko San in the picture above. The paper I used was coloured on one side, white on the other, and not quite a perfect square – which is why there is a thin white line running the length of Yakko San’s face where the white side of the paper shows through.  Using paper that is the same colour on both sides will solve this problem.

This design uses the Blintz Base – one of the traditional bases, formed by folding all four corners of a square to the centre point. Instructions for folding Yakko San are below. After the instructions, there are some ideas for customising the model.

Yakko San Diagrams

1. Start with a Blintz Base. Instructions available hereCompleted Blintz Base
2. Turn the paper overTurn the paper over
3. Blintz this side too by folding all the corners to the centreBlintz the other side
4. Turn the paper overTurn the paper over
5. Fold all the corners to the centre to blintz this side againBlitz a third time
6. Turn the paper overTurn the paper over
7. Pull the edges apart on one of the corner flaps and allow to squash like a rectanglePull apart one of the flaps
8. Repeat the last step on two more corner flaps. Leave the other flap alone.Pull apart two more flaps
9. You have completed Yakko SanCompleted Yakko San

Customising Yakko San

The basic figure of Yakko San is a bit – well, basic really. You might like to change a couple of things, particularly if you are making this with children. You could try:

  • Drawing a face on him / her
  • Sticking googly-eyes on it
  • Folding the triangle at the top of one arm down and the other up to make it look like he/she is waving (see pink Yakko San, below)
  • Folding it out of patterned paper so Yakko San is wearing a kimono (although the face will be pattered too)
  • Decorating it with buttons down the front of his / her coat
  • Making it out of red paper and sticking a white cotton-wool beard to make Yakko San look like Santa Claus
  • Making a whole family of Yakko Sans!
A Family of Yakko Sans

Get Involved

I’d love to hear your views on this Yakko San model. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below, or you find can me on Instagram or Twitter. Check out my Pinterest boards too!

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About the Author


Russell has been folding origami since he was 8 years old and has recently written the book, Origami Made Simple. He is on the Council for the British Origami Society and a member of OrigamiUSA. When he is not folding, he enjoys photography and traveling.

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