How to make an environmentally friendly container used in a lot of Japanese homes.

A visit to a grandparent’s house in Japan can introduce you to a lot of eye-opening things, like the best Japanese sweets and snacks…and how to make epic amounts of umeboshi.

For our Japanese-language reporter Masanuki Sunakoma, a visit to his grandpa’s house always reminds him of the wonders of the leaflet trash can. This small receptacle is commonly seen in a lot of households, where they’re used to conveniently hold scraps, and Masanuki’s granddad always puts one out for him to use when he’s eating or peeling a mandarin at the table.

It’s a super convenient, environmentally friendly way of doing things, as the waste containers are made with old newspapers or leaflets that are commonly available at supermarkets or delivered via post, so it helps to recycle old waste materials while also reducing plastic bag consumption.

▼ Leaflets and newspapers given new life as trash receptacles.

Masanuki has since gotten into the practice of making his own leaflet trash cans, folding them in advance and making a big stack just like his grandfather does, so they can be easily pulled out and used as a tabletop waste container whenever necessary.

It’s a clever bit of Japanese knowledge that Masanuki would love to share with the rest of the world, so he’s created a quick tutorial so that you too can make your own leaflet trash cans!

 ▼ Swipe left below to see the video showing how it’s made:

Whoa, that was fast, Masanuki! If you didn’t catch all that, don’t worry – he’s got the detailed instructions for you below.


1. Fold the rectangular paper in half.

2. Fold the folded paper in half again.

3. Open one of the flaps from the last fold and make that part into a triangle, as shown below (follow the direction of the arrows!)

4. Repeat the triangle fold on the other side.

5. Turn one half of the triangle over to the other side.

6. Repeat this on the reverse side.

7. Fold the outer edges into the middle.

8. Repeat on the reverse side.

9. Fold the upper protruding part towards you.

10. Repeat on the reverse side as well.

11. Now you’ll need to cut, or tear, both the protruding parts down the middle (the red line above indicates the part that needs to be cut).

▼ Tear it down the middle and only to the top of the folded part, as shown below.

12. Tuck the corners of the cut portion into the little pockets on the side, as shown with the red arrow below.

▼ Then all you have to do is open your creation and ease it out into a square shape.

If you made it this far — congratulations! You’ve now transformed a piece of trash into a container for trash, and mastered an origami technique that people in Japan have been using for generations.

Once you’ve created a stack of containers ahead of time and have a stash tucked away at home, congratulations again – you’ve reached peak Japanese grandparent level.

That’s nothing to be ashamed of, because neat hacks like this are a great idea for all generations.

It may seem a little tricky to make at first, but once you get the knack of all the folds, these handy containers are super simple and fun to make.

So next time you get one of those annoying flyers in the mail, why not use it to make a leaflet trash can before throwing it away? It’ll make a great conversation piece when guests come over, and it’ll look right at home with your collection of paper KitKat cranes.

Images © SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]