Five years ago, Yuki Tatsumi started a curious quest to collect the origami figures made from chopstick sleeves that are regularly left behind by restaurant customers all across Japan. A fascinating new exhibit–featuring about 8,000 of these paper sculptures–is the result of his adventure.
Tatsumi began noticing these abandoned figurines when he worked as a waiter back in 2012. He told Spoon and Tamago that, sometimes, when the customers left and he had to clean up their tables, he would find artsy paper models sitting on some tables. Since there are no tips in Japan, Tatsumi imagines that customers leave this folded art behind as a token of appreciation for the service.
He kept collecting and, suspecting that this was not an uncommon thing, he asked other waiters from other restaurants to send him any customer-made origami. His instinct was right. He eventually collected an amazing 13,000 models made by an army of anonymous restaurant patrons from all of Japan’s 47 prefectures. An exhibit called Japanese Tip in Tokyo shared about 8,000 of them in December, but if you missed the show, but you can browse some of the best in the slide show above.