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Paper Tree's Hidden Origami Superstar

At the heart of Japantown in SF, you will find an origami store that will impress you in more ways than one. When I walked into Paper Tree, I was blown away by the sheer talent on display. Among all the origami material, paper dragons and giant paper cranes were arranged under glass boxes so anyone walking into the store could admire the craftsmanship. More incredible art pieces were hung on the wall or decorating the store and in the window display, a giant heart made of hundreds of colorful paper hearts revealed the acronym AAPI.

It’s not surprising this beautiful store puts forth so much creativity when the owner is none other than Linda Mihara, award winning origami artisan whose art has been featured in commercials, galleries, books and more.

“One time, Febreeze asked me to fold toilet paper for a shot and it was impossible. I spent hours trying to figure it out - finally I figured out! if you use a flat iron, the toilet paper gets a lot more rigid and easy to fold!”

Linda explained to me after we watched a few more of her pieces in various car commercials. One of these car commercials, a Mitsubishi ad where the entire setting is made out of paper except for the car, even won a Clio Award for the impressive display of artistry. “I was raised in this business; my family started Paper Tree in 1968. My grandparents were the first ones to import Japanese paper to the US - they wanted to share their culture with American kids.” Linda says to me.

Linda then points to the large display of hearts in the window and explains that it is a community project centered around fighting hate crimes against the AAPI community. “Folding 1,000 Origami hearts is a spin on the tradition of folding 1,000 origami cranes in order to realize a wish. Instead, I encourage us all to come together and fold 1,000 hearts to counter hate and encourage positivity.” Join the fold and support Linda Mihara’s movement by going to or visiting their store on 1743 Buchanan Mall.

-Valentine Batra

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