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Stunning White Paper Cities and Forests Made From Dozens of Cut and Layered Sheets of Paper

Ayumi Shibata, a Japan-based artist, creates intricate paper cities and natural landscapes that both fit in the palm of her hand and are expansive enough to pass through on foot. Shibata uses dozens (and sometimes over 100) of sheets of paper for a single project. She crafts miniature houses, clouds, and tree-filled forests that eventually are illuminated in glass vessels, stored safely in a book, or erected in large-scale installations.

The Japanese artist says that she doesn’t use pencil outlines, in part because the white paper isn’t durable enough to be erased if there’s an error. Instead, she contemplates the three-dimensional shapes she wants to create and begins cutting. “White paper expresses the yang, light, (and) the process to cut expresses the yin, shadow. When the sun shines upon an object, a shadow is born,” she writes. “Front and back, yin and yang, two side(s) of the same coin.”

Not only is paper a convenient and inexpensive material, but it also has deep significance for the artist. In Japanese, the word “kami” means “god” or “spirit” as well as “paper.”. Shibata tells, “I use my technique to express my thankfulness to the ‘Kami‘ for having been born in this life. I believe that through cutting paper, I purify my mind and soul.”

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Museum Mile Book

paper cities
white paper cities

In the Jar Corridors of Time

Sheets of Paper

Forest of Kami

Sheets of Paper
white paper city

In the Jar Bush

Right: In the Jar Drop of Bush

Voyager Book


paper city