Japanese Tip.

installation view | photo by Kakijiro Tokutani.

installation view | photo by Kakijiro Tokutani.

This is just too cool!

Yuki Tatsumi was working as a waiter in a restaurant when one day, as he was cleaning up a table, he noticed that a customer had intricately folded up the paper chopstick sleeve and left it behind. Japan doesn’t have a culture of tipping but Tatsumi imagined that this was a discreet , subconscious method of showing appreciation. He began paying attention and sure enough noticed that other customers were doing the same thing. Tatsumi began collecting these “tips” which eventually led to his art project: Japanese Tip.

Since 2012 Tatsumi has not only been collecting his own tips but he’s reached out to restaurants and eateries all across Japan communicating his concept and asking them to send him their tips. The response has been enormous. He’s collected over 13,000 paper sculptures that range from obscure and ugly to intricate and elaborate.

Earlier this month Tatsumi staged an exhibition in Tokyo where he displayed 8000 of some of the most interesting sculptures sourced from all 47 prefectures around Japan. “Japanese Tip is a project between restaurants and customers,” says Tatsumi, “to communicate the ‘appreciation for food’ and ‘appreciation of the service’  by using the most common material used at any Japanese restaurant.”

The exhibition has since closed but you can see some of the paper sculptures on his website and you can follow the initiative on Facebook.

Such a cool and thoughtful thing to do. You can read and see more at Spoon & Tamago.


  1. kestrel says

    Oh! This is so cool! I love this!

    I do this too except with dollar bills. Perhaps… perhaps I should send a photo of my dollar bill origami… It is so fun. I do feel guilty when people really react overwhelmingly gratified by what is, really, a DOLLAR… makes me feel guilty but there it is. I am not wealthy. I tip as well as I’m able, but try and include a dollar bill folded into an origami shape of one type or another. You do run into a few people who do not appreciate it but for the most part, people love these little artworks. And I for one really appreciate their service, and I do wish I WERE wealthy and could give great big huge tips. I totally would if I were able.

  2. says

    Kestrel, oh, that’s such a nice thing to do! It makes people happy, and I’m all for that. I never thought of doing that with tip money, I’m gonna have to learn some moves. :D

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