Fantastic Creatures on Display at ‘Imiloa for the Holidays

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‘Imiloa’s holiday tree features a unique collection of mythic and fantastic creatures folded by origami artist volunteers from across the U.S. and abroad. Courtesy photo.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, where a special origami-bedecked holiday tree went on display at the end of November 2017. The tree features a unique collection of mythic and fantastic creatures folded by origami artist volunteers from across the U.S. and abroad.

These models were originally displayed on the 2007 Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Colorful mermaids, unicorns, angels, centaurs, Pegasus’s, dragons, and even a gargoyle and Medusa can be found dancing among the branches of the lighted seven-foot tree in the ‘Imiloa atrium. The tree is topped with a dramatic red kusudama star folded especially for ‘Imiloa by Dr. Julien Lozi, senior optical scientist at Subaru Telescope.


The intricately folded fantastic creatures are part of an origami collection generously donated to ‘Imiloa two years ago by Al Miyatake. Born and raised in Hawai‘i, Miyatake was a friend of the center and longtime Japan Airlines manager who for many years created an annual origami holiday tree at the JAL check-in counter at Kona International Airport.

Assisting in his efforts were his mother-in-law, Kyoko Kondo, and many talented friends from Origami USA, the New York-based national origami society which organizes volunteer folders to decorate the tree which has become a nearly 50-year holiday tradition at the American Museum of Natural History.

“Our holiday tree this year is dedicated to the memory of Al Miyatake, who passed away in Kona in March,”  said ‘Imiloa Institutional Advancement Director Margaret Shiba. “As an origami enthusiast, Al worked tirelessly to share the now-universal art of paper folding with people everywhere, and we invite the community to stop by and admire the legacy he has left here at ‘Imiloa.”


“This year’s tree has another special meaning for ‘Imiloa because of the professional connections we enjoy with our programming partners at the American Museum of Natural History in New York!” said Executive Director Ka‘iu Kimura. “What a privilege to have inherited their origami models and their holiday tree tradition!”

‘Imiloa’s holiday tree will be on display into January in the atrium of the Center at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off Komohana and Nowelo Streets in the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Science & Technology Park.

The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


For more information visit www.imiloahawaii.org or call (808) 932-8901.

About ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is a world-class center for informal science education located on the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo campus. Its centerpiece is a 12,000 sq. ft. exhibit hall, showcasing astronomy and Hawaiian culture as parallel journeys of human exploration guided by the light of the stars. The visitor experience is amplified with programming using ‘Imiloa’s full dome planetarium and 9 acres of native landscape gardens. The Center welcomes approximately 100,000 visitors each year, including 10,000-plus schoolchildren on guided field trips and other educational programs.

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