Tipping etiquette is a familiar dilemma for most restaurant goers. Some countries have very specific rules for tipping, while others don’t tip at all. Japan is one country where people don’t tip their waiters; however, Japanese customers have a different way of showing their appreciation. One day during 2012, Japanese waiter Yuki Tatsumi was clearing up a table when he noticed a customer had left behind an intricately folded origami “tip” made from a chopstick sleeve. Intrigued, Tatsumi began to notice and collect other people’s paper sculptures, which led to his project, Japanese Tip. Customers communicate their appreciation for the food and service “by using the most common material used at any Japanese restaurant,” explains Tatsumi.
From the simple to the elaborate, the paper tips were crafted from chopstick sleeves of various colors and patterns. The origami shapes range from stars and hearts, to animal silhouettes. As his collection grew, Tatsumi decided to contact other restaurants across Japan, asking them to send him their origami tips. Sourced from around 47 Japanese prefectures, Tatsumi now has a collection of over 13,000 paper sculptures—he’s even exhibited 8,000 of them in Tokyo.
Keep up to date on Tatsumi’s Japanese Tip project on Facebook.