‘Imiloa Features Sea-Themed Origami Holiday Tree

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‘Imiloa Astronomy Center unveiled its 2015 holiday tree, themed “Creatures of the Sea,” in its atrium this week.

The seven-and-a-half-foot tree is decorated with almost 100 paper models folded by origami artists from several world locales.

In line with the tree theme, paper schools of fish, sea mammals, seaweed, and a surfer on a surfboard riding a curling wave fill in the tree, along with yellow tangs, mahimahi, and mempachi; angel-, angler-, box-, damsel-, and butterfly-fish; marlin, sharks and barracudas; sea horses, sea snails and crabs; moray eels, manta rays, a coelacanth and an octopus family; a humpback whale and her calf; and even Hawaiʻi’s state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapuaʻa.

‘Imiloa officials decorated the tree with decorations from across the mainland, Europe, and South America. Artists include some of the world’s leaders of modern origami movement like Michael LaFosse and Richard Alexander of Origamido in Massachustts and Sok Song of New York City.


The tree topper, the Kusudama star on the top of the tree, was folded by Dr. Julien Lozi, the Senior Optical Scientist at Subaru Telescope, from a pattern designed by Ekaterina Likasheva.

Work done by Likasheva was displayed at the center previously during the year as part of the “Epic Origami” exhibit organized by Waimea-based artist Bonnie Cherni.

“Exploring the intersections of paperfolding and science has been an exciting new programming arena here at ‘Imiloa, and we are happy that our origami holiday tree will continue this theme and give the community another reason to come in and visit,” said ‘Imiloa’s Executive Director, Kaʻiu Kimura.


Many of the origami models on ‘Imiloa’s tree were previously displayed on a holiday tree at the Japan Airlines check-in counter at Kona International Airport in 2009.

The initial project at the airport was organized by a longtime JAL staff member with close connections to Origami USA, the educational and cultural arts organization which has created an attention-getting origami holiday tree at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City for over 40 years.

At his invitation, origami artists folded and donated models for the JAL tree under the theme of “The Sea Around Us” in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Hawaiʻi statehood.


‘Imiloa’s origami tree will be on display into January in the center’s atrium. The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

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