These instructions will show you how to make a traditional origami box also known as a masu box.

Masu boxes were originally a square wooden box used to measure portions of rice during the feudal period in Japan. Masu boxes came in all kinds of different sizes ranging from about 0.18 L all the way to as big as 18 L.

This paper version is quite easy to fold and makes a perfect little box to hold small items like paper clips, candy or whatever you want.

The paper should lock together and hold its shape pretty good when you’re finished. If you find that you have a flip or two that keep sticking out at the bottom of the inside of the box it’s completely fine to use a bit of tape or glue to hold them down.

If you fill the boxes with something that’ll hold everything down nicely as well.

Are you ready? Lets get started.

Step 1) Start with a square sheet of paper with the white side facing up. Fold the paper in half horizontally. Crease it well and then unfold it.

Step 2) Fold the paper in half vertically. Crease it well and then unfold it.

Step 3) Fold the corner of the paper to the centre. You’ll do this on each of the 4 corners.

Step 4) Fold the next corner to the centre of the model.

Step 5) Fold the next corner to the centre of the model.

Step 6) Fold the final corner to the centre of the model.

Step 7) Rotate the model 45 degrees so it’s square again.

Step 8) Fold the top part of the model along the dotted line to the centre.

Step 9) Fold the bottom part of the model along the dotted line to the centre.

Step 10) Crease both these folds very well and then unfold them.

Step 11) These next 2 steps technically aren’t necessary but they make 2 later steps slightly easier. Fold the left part of the model along the dotted line to the centre.

Step 12) Fold the right part of the model along the dotted line to the centre.

Step 13) Crease both these folds very well and then unfold them.

Step 14) Unfold the top and bottom triangles of paper.

Step 15) Fold the right side of the model to the centre along the dotted line. Part of this crease is already here which will make it a bit easier.

Step 16) Fold the left side of the model to the centre along the dotted line.

Step 17) Slowly pull the model open at the top following the dotted lines. The creases here are already made.

Step 18) When you pull the model open it should take a shape that looks like this. The creases are all already made so everything should fall into place.

Step 19) Fold the flap of paper down along the dotted line that intersects the two triangles. This will form the edge of the box. Fold the top triangle of paper up a little bit to fit into place at the bottom of the box.

Step 20) Fold the other side of the box now along the existing creases like you did in steps 17 and 18. The paper should fall into place and give you a shape just like in step 18.

Step 21) Fold the top flap of paper down along the dotted line to form the edge of the box. Fold the top triangle of paper up a little bit to also fit into the bottom of the box, just like in step 19.

The competed traditional origami box or masu box.

If you want to fold a lid for your box you have a couple of options. First you can simply use slightly larger paper and fold the lid exactly the same way you did the box itself.

This can be a bit difficult, especially if you’re using standard origami paper like kami where each piece you have is exactly the same size.

The other option you have is to fold the box again but in steps 3, 4, 5 and 6 where you fold the corners of the paper don’t fold them all the way to the centre.

This will result in a shape that looks like the image below at the end of step 6.

Then continue to fold the model following the steps above just like you did before. Fold the paper to the centre when it asks you for the following steps.

This will give you a slightly larger box that makes a perfect lid. The triangle flaps in the bottom of the box don’t stay in place as well as they do for the bottom so feel free to just use a tiny piece of tape or some glue to hold them there.

If you close the box though putting the lid over the bottom it’ll hold it’s shape very nicely even without tape or glue.


How did you do? Post a photo of your box in the comments because we’d love to see it!

If you need help or clarification with any of these steps feel free to ask in the comments as well.