3D Modular Origami — My Neighbor Totoro


So excited to share more pieces of modular origami with you, this time it’s a three-for-one. This set is by far my favorite of all the ones I’ve done because it is also based on one of my favorite movies: My Neighbor Totoro.

Now remember, this is* a repost, so I didn’t edit the text. Everything is as I originally wrote it. Enjoy! 🙂

November 8, 2015:

I finally got around to taking pictures, editing them, and writing this post. I finished these pieces two months ago, but had to put them away so my son wouldn’t destroy them.

If you have never seen My Neighbor Totoro, an anime film created by the infamous Hayao Miyazaki, then let me give you some background on these cute characters.


Sources: GhibliWiki

Who or what is Totoro?

Totoro is basically the spirit of the forest. Word has it that Totoro came completely from Miyazaki’s imagination, as Totoro is not a traditional Japanese character. He’s a combination of various animals:

  • Raccoons
  • Cats (ears and facial expressions)
  • Owls (chevron markings and “ooo”-ing sound they make with their ocarinas at night)

Are the little ones also Totoros?

Yes, they are:

  • Big Totoro (gray) is Oh-Totoro
  • Medium Totoro (blue) is Chuu-Totoro
  • Little Totoro (white) is Chibi-Totoro

Note: “Oh” means large in Japanese, “Chuu” means medium, and “Chibi” means small.


Alright! Now that you know what they are, let’s me show you the pieces I have made.

Note: these pieces are obviously not to scale. Doing this kind of work, you can only make them so small for them to still appear normal.

Oh Totoro


It took me ages to finish him. I had to disassemble him several times when I was already up to his neck (about 5 or 6 times). It wasn’t easy building him. His body took the longest. The chevron markings on his chest had to be evenly spaced which wasn’t the hard part, but figuring out where the white should end (his tummy) was the hardest. The white couldn’t go further than the eye could see while seeing his front-side. However, the grey wasn’t supposed to be visible either. Not to mention the width of every row that included white; it had to look rounded instead of a straight line. I think in the end, I achieved what I was going for.

As a prop, I used a fake leaf because I wanted to capture him in the most famous scene, where he’s standing next to Mei and Satsuki at the bus stop, as seen above. It’s a very cute scene.


Chuu Totoro & Chibi Totoro


Chuu Totoro was easier because he’s a fraction of Oh Totoro. Also, disassembling him wasn’t that big of a deal, because he only sports three chevron markings. His tummy does look a bit straight-lined on the sides, but he doesn’t have very many layers to work with, so I did my best.


For prop, he’s sporting a white burglar-like bag which in the movie, is filled with acorns. I made it out of tissue paper, and half a cotton ball. It was harder finding a small rubber band to tie it with.


Lastly, Chibi Totoro who is a mouse-like little brother to Chuu Totoro. He was the easiest, and took me less than 10 minutes to assemble because he’s just so tiny! He doesn’t have chevron markings and is single-colored, so I only had to worry about what size to make him.


The Trio:


Even though it took me months to finish these pieces, including folding each individual piece to assemble, I had fun putting them together. I’m still looking into what I want to build next, so it may be a while until you see my next work.


Would love to know what you think of modular origami.
Had you ever seen it before? Have you attempted traditional origami?


Find me on social media:

Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Pinterest

4 thoughts on “3D Modular Origami — My Neighbor Totoro

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s