Playful Kirigami: Touch-Activated Paper Animals Pop into Action

Acting out scenes from storybooks or animating real activities, these deceptively simple-looking, folded-paper toys leap, bounce, roll and hatch into action when played with.

Japanese designer Haruki Nakamura was inspired by the ancient art of kirigami, a variation on origami that involves cuts as well as folds, but takes it to the next level with his playful animals.

The specific behaviors of the toys often follow the natural reactions of a given animal, like an armadillo rolling itself up for protection when threatened.

Combining kirigami with karakuri, the art of mechanical puppets actived by touch, led him to these neat hybrid creatures that one can poke, prod, press or drop into action.

In some cases, the activities are innocent and entertaining, like a turtle popping into its shell or a chick hatching from an egg. Others are humorously sinister, showing wolves in sheep’s clothing or a tortoise being eaten by an alligator. For now, alas, these works are only available in Japan.