Museum Hours
Thu: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
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200 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

Make an Orihon (Japanese Accordion Book)

Activity: Make your own orihon to use as a journal. What stories might you record in it?

Many Japanese travelers in the Edo period kept diaries of their adventures on the road, and some of these became best-selling books that in turn inspired other would-be travelers. Matsuo Basho’s “Narrow Road to the Deep North” is the best known of these. Some books in Basho’s time were published in the orihon, or accordion book, form.

The orihon was especially convenient for travelers because it folded so compactly and was easier to read than a scroll. To see an Edo period orihon up close, check out this beautiful example at the Keio Institute of Oriental Classics in Tokyo. In the following activity, you will make your own orihon to use as a journal. What stories might you record in it?


30 minutes


  • Two pieces of cardboard, with each piece cut to 4.5 x 6 inches
  • Two sheets of 8.5 x 11 inch paper
  • Glue sticks
  • Clear tape
  • Scissors
  • Decorating supplies such as origami paper, tissue paper, washi tape, stamps and inkpad, pens, or glitter glue


Visuals of the procedure can be found in the PDF download or the image gallery above.

  1. Cut each piece of paper in half lengthwise, so you get four long strips.
  2. Fold each strip in half.
  3. Tape the folded strips together so you get one long accordion — now you have the pages for your book.
  4. Glue one of the cardboard panels to the front end of the accordion, to make the front cover of the journal; glue the other panel to the back end, to create the back cover.
  5. If you used blank pieces of cardboard for your covers, decorate them by using washi tape or gluing on pieces of origami or tissue paper. You could also use rubber stamps, pens, or glitter glue to create colorful designs.
  6. Start using your journal! Record what happened today, jot down thoughts that you want to remember, or compose your own poetry. You can also use the pages for small drawings or paintings.

Share a picture of your orihon on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #AAMOrihon. Happy journaling!