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Last updated 23/1/2024


The Tenjin Shrine
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the origami design known as the Tenjin Shrine. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other information that should be added. Thank you.

It is my guess, and only my guess, that the design represents a temple roof.

The Tenjin Shrine is the base for the Takarabune, Minogame and Yarn Spool / Holy Place / Memorial Arch designs.

In issue 1894 / 11 of the Japanese children's magazine 'Shokokumin' it is referred to as the Tenmangu Shrine.


In China (and in publications by Chinese authors)


The design appears as 'Plaque' in 'Xu Zhe zhi tu shuo' (More Illustrated Paperfolding) by Yongxiang Shi, which was published by the Commercial Press in Shanghai in 1917.


In Japan (and in publications by Japanese authors)


The earliest appearance of this design that I know of is in 'Kindergarten Shoho' (Preliminary Kindergarten) by Iijima Hanjuro, which was copyrighted on October 4th Meiji 17 (1884) and published by Fukuda Senzo in August of Meiji 18 (1885). It is the lower of the three designs on this page. The characters in between the picture of the finished design and the crease pattern read 'Tenjin Shrine'



The Tenjin Shrine also appears in 'Kani Shukogaku' (Simple Handicraft) by Tamotsu Shibue, which was published in Tokyo in 1892.



The Tenjin Shrine also appears as one of a multiple sequence of designs in an article in issue 21 of the Japanese children's magazine 'Shokokumin' in 1894. The pattern of six dots on the top flaps is the family crest of Tenjin (plum flower).


Issue 1984 / 23 of the same magazine contains a design for a 'Mikoshi' (a portable shrine for kami that is carried in a parade0 which is developed from the Tenjin Shrine using cuts.



A paperfold that is probably intended to be the Tenjin Shrine appears in a print by Ogata Gekko. I am indebted to David Humphries of for telling me that 'this print is part of a small format album titled Nihon Jo Reikshiki (loosely Etiquette for young Women). The album itself was published by Matsuki Heikichi in 1898.'



Diagrams for the Tenjin Shrine appear in 'Jinjo Kouto Shogaku Shuko Seisakuzu' (Handicrafts for ordinary higher elementary schools) by Hideyoshi Okayama, which was published by Rokushiro Uehara in Tokyo in 1903.



Diagrams also appear in 'Shukouka Kyohon : Liron Jishuu Souga Setsumei' by Kikujiro Kiuchi, Rokushiro Uehara and Hideyoshi Okayama, which was published by Shigebei Takase in Chiba in 1905. I cannot translate the Japanese title here.



Diagrams that show how to convert the Double Boat into the Tenjin Shrine (also called Mikoshi here) appear in 'Origami zusetsu' (Illustrated Origami) by Sano Shozo, which was published in Tokyo in 1908.



A drawing of the Tenjin Shrine appears in a monozukushi-e print, by an unknown artist, but said to be from the Meiji era. I have temporarily assigned it the date of 1912, the last year of that era, pending the discovery of more accurate information.



'Origami Moyo, Book One', by Kawarazaki Kodo, which was published by Unsodo in Japan in 1935, contains a print showing the Tenjin Shrine.