DIY Japanese Accordion Book

Appropriate for grades:
Subject areas: Visual and Performing Arts

Orihon are accordion-style books, composed of a continuous folded sheet of paper enclosed between two covers. In comparison to scrolls these accordion books were more practical and allow enough space for writing similar to a scroll, but in a compact form. They were used for Buddhist texts, journaling, poetry, and even yokai illustrations. Yokai is a catchall Japanese word for ghosts, demons, monsters, shapeshifters, tricksters, and other kinds of supernatural beings and mysterious phenomena.

Make your own accordion book and draw your favorite ghost, monster, or demon.

You'll need

  • 2 chalk pastels
  • blank paper: 2 small pieces, 5.5" x 8.5" for book covers
  • blank paper strips: 2 long strips, 5.5" x 17" for scroll book
  • 2 cardboard pieces, 5" x 7"
  • a shallow tub
  • popsicle stick or plastic knife
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • glue stick


Procedures A grouping of images that showing the steps of how to make an accordion book as well as making your own marbled paper.

  1. Making chalk prints: add water to your tub, about 1 inch, it does not need to be filled to the top.
  2. Start scraping your chalk onto the surface of the water using a popsicle stick or plastic knife. Place the small piece of 5.5" x 8.5" paper onto the chalk water; lightly press the paper and around the edges, but don’t submerge it. Lift up to reveal your chalk print and set it aside to dry. Repeat for the back cover. You will use the paper for your book covers.
  3. Glue the two strips of 5.5" x 17" paper together to make a long strip. Measure and mark 5" inches on your long strip of paper. Fold the paper at that mark, creasing it well. Continue folding the paper back and forth accordion-style, until you reach the end. Now you have the pages for your book.
  4. Wrap the cardboard covers with your chalk prints. Facing your print down glue the cardboard into the center of the paper. Cut off the corners of the paper. Fold down the flaps and glue them into place. Repeat procedure for the 2nd cover.
  5. Glue your covers to each end of the paper accordion. You can start using your book, draw your favorite yokai or write a story.


Download Lesson Plan