The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden at Cal State Long Beach turned out to be a lovely location to learn the art of origami, or Japanese paper folding, on Sunday.
From humble beginnings more than 15 years ago, with only two presenters and about 25 attendees, the 2011 event hosted 40-plus experts teaching a much larger crowd -- several hundred, at least -- how to make 3-D objects from a single sheet of paper.
Patient instructors taught small groups of kids and adults to fold and interlock paper to make ninja throwing stars, penguins, mini gift boxes, flowers and pinwheels. Origami turtles were perched on the rocks overlooking the garden's waterfall. Chains of a thousand origami cranes -- a traditional symbol of good luck or peace -- hung from a tree branch.
Kids wandered the garden path sporting the paper hats they'd made, or took turns feeding the giant carp in the garden's lagoon.
The calming, almost Zen influence of both the garden and the origami kept people waiting patiently for their turn to sit and learn. While they waited, they could admire pieces created by more advanced practitioners -- such as a portrait of Yoda -- or snack on tea and Japanese crackers.
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If this year's popularity is any indication, they might want to start rounding up more experts and tables for next year.