What is Kitsûe?

Kitsûe is the Japanese art of paper cutting. It involves cutting out intricate designs from sheets of paper and then folding the pieces to create three-dimensional figures. By combining different colors, patterns, and cut-out shapes, you can create beautiful designs that appear even more intricate than they are thanks to their folded appearance. A popular form of kitsûe is called “kabuto-zukē” (meaning helmet carving), in which a design is repeatedly cut from a single sheet of paper to create the appearance of an elaborate helmet or another piece of armor. The name comes from kabuto — referring to samurai helmets with upturned edges — and zukē — meaning carving in this case. Kitsûe has been used as a form of artistic expression since at least the ninth century; it was often used as a way for people to document their status in society, as well as to demonstrate their wealth and prosperity. Let’s take a look at some examples of kitsûe so you can get inspired…

What You’ll Need

Kitsûe requires only a few basic supplies, and even if you don’t have all of these, you can definitely still give it a try — it’s very forgiving and not a very precise art. – A knife or scissors – You’ll need one of these two cutting tools. Ideally, you want a small, sharp pair of scissors that won’t leave ragged edges on your paper. – Paper – Any type will do — you can even use newspaper! Make sure it’s not too thick, though. – A source of light – This will help you see what you’re doing. If you’re working with newspaper, which isn’t as translucent as regular paper, you’ll definitely want to use a light source. – Something to protect your work surface – Newspaper is more likely to tear your table than regular paper, so be sure to put something down.

Step 1: Gathering your supplies

Before you even touch a piece of paper, you need to make sure you have everything you need to create your design. You’ll want to sketch out your design, either on paper or in your head, so that you have a general idea of what you want to create. You should also have a general idea of how you want to cut your paper. Once you have a plan, lay out your paper on a table in front of you, and arrange your paper to your liking.

Step 2: Sketching your design

If you want to create something elaborate, such as an ancient samurai helmet, you should sketch the design. If you just want to create a simple paper cut-out for your wall or to hang in your room, you don’t need to sketch anything. Once you’ve decided what you want to create, you can sketch it on paper. Be sure to draw both the front and the back of your design so you don’t get confused!

Step 3: Cutting the paper

Now that you have a general idea of how you want to cut your paper, it’s time to get started. If you have a pattern or design drawn out, you can definitely use that. If you’re just cutting random pieces of paper, you can use newspaper or magazine pages (though these may not be as sturdy as regular paper). You can either cut out each piece of paper individually, or you can cut out several pieces at once and then cut them out. Once you’ve cut out all your pieces, you’re ready to move on.

Step 4: Shaping and folding your paper

Now it’s time to fold your pieces of paper. Once you’ve folded your paper, you can shape it to create your design. If you’re creating a helmet, you’ll want to bend the paper so that it looks like a helmet. You can use a book to weigh down your paper while you shape and fold it so it’s easier to work with.


Kitsûe is fun, creative, and perfect for any skill level. It’s a great way to unwind, and it can also be a great activity to do with others. You can follow a design, or you can design your own — the only limit is your imagination! That being said, kitsûe is definitely an art form that requires patience. You’ll have to cut, fold, and shape your pieces of paper multiple times before you have a finished product. However, the end result is worth it as you have a beautiful, one-of-a-kind piece of art to show off — and you can be proud that you made it yourself!

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