How to make a paper pagoda

Updated February 21, 2017

Traditionally, a pagoda is a multieaved tower and is usually associated with oriental countries like China and Japan. Origami is often used to make a model from a single sheet of paper but there is also a branch of this art that uses several sheets to make a single design, called modular origami. To make a pagoda out of paper, you'll need a sheet for each floor you're building.

Place a square of paper facedown in front of you and fold the upper-right corner down to the bottom-left corner.

Unfold the paper, and fold the top-left corner to the bottom-right.

Unfold the paper, flip it over, and fold the top edge down to the bottom.

Unfold the paper and flip it over. Fold the paper into what is called a "water bomb base." Pull the top edge toward the bottom, tucking in the left and right centre points toward the middle of the page.

Fold the bottom-left corner up to the top-centre point.

Push your finger into the flap you folded up and flatten that flap into a square.

Lift the bottom-right corner of the square up to the top-left corner and fold it down.

Lift the square fold up slightly and fold the straight edge into the centre of that crease. These flaps create one of the legs of the pagoda.

Repeat steps 5 through 8 for the other corner flap.

Lift the small triangle that's revealed by folding back the legs and pull the corners above it open to form the eaves of the pagoda.

Flip the model over and repeat steps 5 through 10 to complete a tower module. Repeat section 1 for each floor you intend to build.

Pull a tower module open slightly, sticking your finger inside to widen the base. Use the module that you intend to have on the uppermost level.

Insert another tower module into the opened one. Tuck the legs of the upper tower into the flaps on the lower one.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 for any other tower modules you want to add. To give it a more three-dimensional look, you can pinch the middle of the eave, to add another point.


You can make the tower as tall or short as you would like. The more levels to your tower, the more prosperous it's said to be. For variety, try using consecutively smaller sheets of paper. Stack the smaller pieces on top of the larger ones. When displaying the tower, you can either open the bottom slightly to stand on its own or leave the entire design flat and glue it to a card or photo frame.


In Japanese, the number four is considered unlucky. A four-story tower, therefore, would be considered unlucky.

Things You'll Need

  • Origami paper or other square paper
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About the Author

Grahame Turner has worked as a freelance writer since 2009 and a freelance reporter since 2010 for Wellesley Patch and Jamaica Plain Patch in Massachusetts. He also works part-time as a bookseller at the Northeastern University bookstore. He is a Northeastern University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English.