How to Make a Japanese Paper Geisha Doll

Written by joanne robitaille
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How to Make a Japanese Paper Geisha Doll
Geisha are well-known for their beautiful hair and kimonos. (geisha image by hugy from

Paper geisha dolls are more like delicate statues than the traditional paper dolls found in the West. Rather than being two-dimensional dolls with interchangeable clothes, geisha dolls are carefully folded and viewable from all sides. This project uses three different types of paper: delicate white tissue paper to make the face and neck, brown kraft paper to make the hair and decorative papers to make the geisha's clothing. Decorative paper from scrapbooking stores makes it easier to create the beautiful kimonos that geisha wear.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Cotton ball
  • White tissue paper
  • Kraft paper
  • 5 decorative papers (each pattern different)
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

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    Face and Hair

  1. 1

    Cut out two pieces of tissue paper that measure 3 inches by 11 inches. Pull a pea-size piece from the cotton ball and place it in the centre of a piece of tissue paper. Roll and twist both ends around the cotton ball. Fold the second piece into thirds lengthwise.

  2. 2

    Cut six pieces of kraft paper for the hair: one piece 6 inches by 5 inches, another 6 inches by 2 inches, and four pieces each 4 inches by a half-inch. Roll two-thirds of the largest piece (hair) and one-third of the medium piece (fringe) around a pencil. Scrunch the rolled papers up so that their texture is more like hair before removing them from the pencils. Curl three thin pieces of paper and secure them together by wrapping the fourth piece around them and gluing (they should look like a curled ponytail).

  3. 3

    Bend the rolled portion of the hair piece into a circle and glue the ends. Slip the rolled tissue paper through the opening and use the cotton ball at the centre to hide the glued joint. Tuck the tail end of the fringe between the rolled hair and tissue paper. Glue the rolled fringe to the tissue paper forehead.

  4. 4

    Glue the curled ponytail (top knot) behind the fringe. Fold the tail end of the fringe over the tail end of the hair and wrap them around the doll's neck. Wrap the folded piece of tissue paper around the neck, covering the kraft paper, and glue the ends.


  1. 1

    Cut a 5-inch-by-1-inch collar out of the patterned paper. Fold it around the neck like a scarf and secure it with glue.

  2. 2

    Cut a 6 1/2-inch-by-11-inch inner kimono from a different piece of patterned paper. Fold the top down twice (1 inch total) and wrap it around the neck of the doll just like you did with the collar. Leave a small portion of the collar showing above the inner kimono. Fold the sides inward to make a thin, rectangular body and glue closed.

  3. 3

    Cut a T-shaped outer kimono. The total size of the outer kimono is 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches; the crossmember of the T is 2 inches wide and the lower portion is 9 inches long). Cut in 1 inch on each side where the crossmember meets the lower portion of the T and fold the edges of the lower portion in. Cut a 6 1/2-inch-by-8 1/2-inch kimono liner and glue it to the lower portion of the T to hide the folds.

  4. 4

    Wrap the outer kimono around the doll's body the same way you did the inner kimono. Cut out a 1 1/2-inch-by-7-inch obi (belt) and wrap it around the doll's middle, securing it with glue. Fold the bottom corners of the kimono outward to reveal the liner and inner kimono.

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